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Event massage En France

On the grass outside the abbey at St. Germer-de-Fly in Normandy may appear an odd place to practice sports massage, however, we sports therapists work where our clients need us, and this is where one of the riders needed help.

I was fortunate to be invited to join the first Blind Veterans UK Brighton to Paris cycle ride as sports massage support. Thirty Nine riders, including three blind ex-service personnel on tandems, set off from the Blind Veterans UK Sussex building just outside Brighton at 6.00am on Thursday 12 May. Four days and one hundred and fifty six miles later they all arrived beneath the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

            Although the weather was dry it was very cool with temperatures hovering around 8 degrees for much of the time. This caused some riders problems with muscle tightness and joint pain. From my seat in the sweeper minibus I dealt with several leg and back problems as well as being on First Aid duties. Many of the issues were resolved quickly on the spot with follow a up at the next checkpoint. That is why I was massaging on the grass outside the Abbey at St. Germer-de-Fly as well as with a rider across the back seats of the minibus in the town square at Monneville and on the side of the D3 near Fleury and in a layby at Vigny as well as setting up my couch in the hotel bar at the second night stop and in the hotel restaurant on the third night stop.

            Most of the riders had done some training and only required a post ride loosen up in the evening, but, there were some more complex issues. One rider who cycles 160Km weekly suffered badly from lateral left knee pain. His IT band was completely solid and releasing his Glute Med and TFL by the roadside relieved the pain but we had to wrap his leg in a towel and hold it there with electrical tape at every stop to keep the knee warm. He and I concluded that it was probably the extensive un-cleating (lateral rotation of the foot against a resistance to remove his foot from the pedal) during the many stops en-route.

            Another rider had a pre-existing Anterior Cruciate ligament injury from 15 years ago which had caused his right Vastus Med. to have lesions to the adjacent muscles and structures. Repetitive pedalling action was causing more and more pain in the medial aspect of the riders’ knee. Releasing some of the lesions and ongoing icing helped him to get to Paris although the hills were very painful.

            Very recent right ankle ligament damage on another rider needed careful management and much icing all through the day and evening. Luckily cycling in the saddle did not cause her much discomfort but standing for speed bumps, riding over cobbles, and releasing her foot from the cleat caused considerable pain.

            Multiple day event treatments, such as this, add a very different dynamic to the normal pre and post event massage. Here I had to consider how many more days of cycling there were, in what condition the client was to begin with, and how I could make their goal of reaching Paris easier and more comfortable for them before starting to work on the rider.

            It was a brilliant trip well lead by Paul Yate-Smith from Cycle Beyond and well organised by Stacey Jones from Blind Veterans UK and, with our two other volunteer drivers Jay and Nigel, the four of us helped the thirty nine riders get to Paris and raise over £25,000.


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