Health care volunteers athletes’ best friends

Health care volunteers athletes’ best friends

Stuart Cayer was a self-described “intense athlete” with an engineering degree when he opted to return to college to become a chiropractor.

“I was really blown away at what I learned and experienced as a patient,” recalls Cayer, owner of Scarborough Family Chiropractic. “I was so impressed and excited about enhancing someone’s health without the use of drugs or surgery that I made a career change.”

Cayer will share his enthusiasm and expertise for wellness and preventive care when he volunteers to assist athletes at the Tri for a Cure race Aug. 15 in South Portland.

A corps of health care volunteers from throughout southern Maine will offer services and advice to the women participating in the grueling competition – an open-water swim followed by a 15-mile bike ride and 3-mile run. Many of the women say they consider the race more of a personal challenge that tests their own strength and endurance, rather than a bid to beat the next gal.

The chiropractors and massage therapists staffing tents on the Southern Maine Community College campus say they will emphasize the importance of self-care and wellness as a routine part of women’s lives, regardless of whether they are training for competition or facing the ordinary demands of everyday lives. Cayer plans to talk to the athletes about the multiple benefits he sees from regular chiropractic care. Massage therapists from his office also will offer to rub and knead muscles at canopied areas on the college campus, where the race starts and ends.

Cayer considers chiropractic care not only helpful for athletes to achieve optimal performance, but also for people to get relief from many health problems.

“The nervous system controls every function of the body, therefore alignment or adjustments of the spine help the body function and heal more optimally,” said Cayer. “It’s really that simple and is the reason why when people share their experience with chiropractic (care), there are all kinds of great results for different things from headaches and neck pain to asthma, digestive issues, and chronic ear infections in babies,” he said. “When the body is aligned it works better and is able to heal.”

Julie Wright, a massage therapist who has volunteered at Tri for Cure, Beach to Beacon and other races, sees massage as particularly helpful for athletes before and after competitions.

“The importance of massage in any athlete’s training is keeping flexible by maintaining good blood flow through the muscles,” she said.

Prior to competitions, Wright massage warms tissue, relieves tension, helps range of motion and eases pre-event jitters. After competition, it calms muscles and helps “detox the body” by speeding the elimination of metabolic waste.?Wright emphasizes that sports massage is not traditional, feel-good massage, but incorporates stretching and focuses on the muscle groups and areas of most possible strain and use.

Members of the Maine Sports Massage team will work on the athletes this year. The massage therapists have received special training in working with athletes. Cayer is a returning volunteer at the Tri for a Cure race. He also sees specific needs among tri-athletes, such as shoulder pain from swimming and biking, along with hip, foot and knee problems from running.

“Tri athletes are somewhat unique because they are training their entire body constantly,” he said. “We often see them present with neck and lower back pain from the rigors of such an intense training regiment.”

Massage therapists from Scarborough Chiropractic will do deep tissue work and help the athletes stretch their muscles. Chiropractic doctors will answer questions from athletes about various health problems and conditions.

Cayer believes it is important to be evaluated after a race or competition because the body is under a lot of stress, “which can cause alignment problems in the spine. Unless those problems are corrected quickly, other health issues can manifest and chronic issues can be more difficult to correct,” he said.

The athletes also can receive free reflexology treatments. Pressure and massage are applied to reflex points on the hands and feet, which practitioners believe correspond to specific parts of the body. Reflexology is used for relaxing tight muscles and stimulating nerve connections. It also is supposed to help circulation and help the body rid itself of toxins.

Lynn Marie Danforth will offer her reflexology services pre-race day and after the race. She said that this is the first year she has volunteered with Tri for a Cure race. Danforth said she sees “wonderful results’’ with reflexology, helping clients with arthritis and a variety of conditions. “It’s just as effective as a full body massage,” she said. “Once you get the circulation improving, your overall health improves.”

Danforth, who owns Hands on Feet Reflexology in South Portland, said that a lot of people still have not tried reflexology or are not familiar with it.

Danforth has lost several loved ones to cancer, and said she is looking forward to the fundraising triathalon.

“I worked a lot when I first started reflexology with a friend who was living with cancer. It was a meaningful experience. It will be good to be at this event.”

Stuart Cayer Lynn Marie Danforthmassage

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