Behind the Scenes

All elite athletes know that paralyzing feeling of an injury; that sudden realization that you’ve broken down and might have to adjust your training or stop all together.  We try to train through any irritations or pain with the belief that it will just go away, and lots of times it does.  But, occasionally that small pain sticks around and grows into something big enough to have to be addressed.   We turn inward and try to hold back the panic that floods in; convincing ourselves that we will be ready to go the next day if we can just get some treatment.  There is nothing quite as cagey or over-sensitive as an injured athlete that can’t train (or potentially race) like they want to.

That is when we call upon our support staff to jump in and save the day.  We come to them after what has usually been a long absence (hopefully) and want them to ‘fix it’ as soon as possible so that we can get back on the water.  They have to deal with us in our most vulnerable state and try to talk us off the ledge and onto the treatment table.  So much of the healing process is mental, especially with any persistent or chronic injuries, so our chiropractors, physiotherapists, and massage therapists end up moonlighting as our psychologists as well.  As soon as the injury is healed (or at least healed enough to get back on the water) we vanish, ungratefully, as if we had never had a problem to begin with.  So, to all those therapists that are there when we need you – Thank you!

I decided to write about this topic after being off the water for a few days last week due to a small, and now healed, injury.  Even the smallest bump in the road can make you appreciate those that have played an active role in keeping you on that road.  After I herniated a disc in my back 6 months before Beijing, Mike Murray (team chiro) and Matt Tyler (team physio) worked their magic and somehow kept me on the water.  They are basically why I was able to race in Lucerne and Beijing that year.  In the years after Beijing when I was living in Vancouver I started working with Marilou Lamy, LJ Lee, and Mark Finch.  They nursed me through the depressing years of persistent back pain and got me back to the position of being able to think about rowing again. And now that I’m back training full-time in Victoria, Mike is once again on emergency speed-dial. I’ve developed a great relationship with all of these people and truly feel that they are an essential part of my Olympic journey.  A huge thank you to all of you and all those others that have treated me along the way.

Mike working on me right before the final in Beijing.

Tannis Peterson