Athletic Blues



At the end of the football game neither side scored. It was just an evening sweat and I sat watching not understanding most of it. I was invited to the game by the Coach of Team A. Having never met the Coach before, I simply walked across the field to a man who sat just off the boundary line shouting words to the players. I asked if he was a Coach. Yes. I said the name of the Coach I came to see. He pointed to another man who was a few yards off with a flag in his hand. Well, I just came from that direction, no point returning. I sat. “Tuck in! Tuck in!” He was shouting in my ears. “Somebody help he out nah!” He then turned to me and explained that his team, Team B, was one man short and everyone has their part to play so that was affecting the game. I nodded. He pointed to the goal keeper. See the goalie? Yes. The goalie is a loly. Apparently the game was called at short notice and the regular goal keeper also plays cricket so he was absent and they had to substitute.

When the whistle was blown for a break I bid him farewell. He had almost given himself a heart attack every time a play was made that disappointed him. Thankfully, it did not happen on my watch. I walked over to Team A and identified myself to the Coach, who in turned introduced me to the players as Rinaldo. And it was down to business. I spread two yoga mats on the grass and had three clients.

The first one I had seen earlier in the distance doubled over on the ground. I enquired what’s up. Hamstring cramping up. Okay. Did some effleurage, compression, muscle stripping, while advising him to tell me where the he felt more pain. The pain was more medial. Do we have medial hamstring? Hmmm. People generally do well cardinal points. Had he known that it was okay to say such, I am sure he would have told me that pain was easterly.

Next. Lower back pain. Sports related? No. Tell me… A ‘piece of iron’ hit him across the back. Hmmm. Seems the iron was animated, so it picked itself up and whacked him across the back. Maybe if I knew the whole story I might have to make a Police report. I decided to limit my knowledge of the facts. Let sleeping dogs lie. It was night. The pain was really in lower back, sacrum. I tried rolling down his pants waist…got about an inch. Was he wearing his little brother’s underpants? Maybe he was attempting to prevent a medial ‘hamstring’ cramp by locking down the whole pelvis. Thankfully, massage techniques come in variety.

Next. This young man said that he pulled a muscle in his ‘quads.’ Okay. I had him lie on his back with the sole flat. I worked from knee to groin and asked him to tell me when the pain was most significant. Groin. Hmmm. Our first meeting and I was already zeroing in on his private area. Told him I was testing and applied pressure. The other leg kicked out spontaneously. Was I in its way I would have still had spikes in my chest. Rightly so, maybe… I backed up and started over. Less pressure, but more focused on the inguinal area.

Alright. Time to get back into the game. A spectator was already complaining that the first half of the game went too long. Time to finish what they started. A few minutes into the game I saw a player from Team B double over. No one went to him. I was writing on a notepad when I looked up and saw that. I put my things away and was about to get up when Coach Goalie/Loly hobbled over to the player. Whatever was said lasted a few seconds and the Coach returned to his perch. The player got up and hauled himself back into the game. With one man short an injured guy can’t stay injured in peace.

After the game there was chit-chat. The moving kind where everybody is preparing to leave and words are getting thrown around. I felt a bit funny because I did not render assistance to Team B. They were courteous and played hard; hard enough to prevent a goal knowing that their chances of getting one were slim. And I met the main man. Didn’t know he was until we spoke. The Referee. I volunteered my time, the Coach volunteers his and has to play father, friend, and sponsor, but the Referee gets paid. He told me that Referees have to be paid. (Wat yuh tellin me boy? You is a whistle-blower. Nuff people lookin feh yuh. Don’t come bout hey wearing fluorescent colours and running backwards like dat is a big ting. Dey paying you fuh dat? I could run backwards to. Fuh dah matta, all ah we could run backwards). I told him a professional is a professional, so all or none gets paid. He laughed. Some things cannot be explained, to me. We shook hands and wished each other a good night.

One of the young ladies on the ground who saw me doing the massages came over and suggested that I visit her team. We spoke a bit about it and I showed up at their next practice session. They had just completed warm-ups. She saw me coming, met me halfway, and escorted me to the Coach. Bla, bla, blah. Just volunteering for a few sessions. I told him I will sit and watch the game and maybe learn a few moves. Cool. I went to sit on the sideline and had a client. She sat there looking at me with unshed tears and a bag of ice cubes on each knee. Not sure I wanted to touch her. I went for my mat and spread it on the grass and told her when her time was up with the ice she could stretch out on it.

I tried to get a picture of what was going on. She injured her knees about three years ago playing football. Every day since she experiences pain. No x-ray was done, unless it occurred while she was alseep. What she has had were injections in her knees from some cute Doctor so that she could continue playing. What is the extent of the injury? She does not know. No one has said anything to her, and unless the Doctor or the ‘Physio’ says that she is unfit to play, she has to show up and play. It can be confusing when you’re in severe pain and someone who should be an authority on your condition says that you are fine, by virtue of their silence.

She’s still a teenager. I told her a few years from now when she is someone’s wife and her knees can’t go up, or she can’t kneel, there might be problems in the bedroom. A man’s mind is very flexible and a wife has got to ensure that her body could adapt to suit. Did I ever tell you of the client who wanted a foot-job? He wanted me to sit between his legs, and flex my knees so that my soles embrace his penis. Yep. And he’ll reach down his hands and clasp my feet firmly to ensure that they sandwich his penis snug enough, then work them up and down until he ejaculates. Maybe his wife had knee problems. As for the wifeless men… Well, I did hear about the guy was paid by a woman to bathe her dog. She left home to run an errand and returned to find the man ‘in’ the dog. The sight of them together made her fearful so she called the Police.

What were we talking about? Ah! Yes. The young lady. So I was saying to her that it would not matter to her husband that she ran herself into the ground for her country. Yes, she is on a national team. I proceeded with the assessment of her knees. They were like shak-shaks. Slack and oversensitive. Made me wonder if she has ligaments. I asked about a brace. She has one that she uses for practice. No, no. You need to support your knees round the clock. But if the Doctor could give her condition a nod, then I’ll try for modesty and say that something is ‘not right’ with her knees. I put some oil on my hands, and gentle made her cringe. The sensitivity shifted as I angled and worked with the legs to facilitate drainage and suppleness in order to reduce the pressure on the knees.

We probably spent half hour together during which time I inquired about her home care regiment. None. I told her to visit the Pharmacy and get a small bottle of castor oil and another of eucalyptus oil and marry them to create a bedtime rub. My bedtime hand rub has olive, castor, eucalyptus, peppermint, and wintergreen oil. Aromatherapy measurements don’t apply. My hands keep me in business, so there is something to it that should remain unregulated. If she could allow her knees to be injected (ever seen the needle they use?) then she could give this a try. I wanted to know what she was injected with. Don’t know. Don’t know, or forgot? Don’t know. Something for the pain. I see…how easily…athletes could end up with ‘drugs’ in their blood…that they know nothing of. Just go out there and maintain excellent performance.

At the end of our time together she remarked that no one bothered to explain anything to her before. Oh, don’t get me wrong. I was not explaining anything. I was brainstorming possibilities…thinking aloud. So you can’t tell anyone that the therapist said anything. I packed my bag and left while the team was doing their cool down routine. Another Coach caught up with me. He said that the young lady told him that I made a few recommendations. Really? I thought I said that I said nothing. I got out my notepad and wrote: castor oil, eucalyptus oil. I tore it off the page and gave him. He wanted more. An opinion. I told him I think she is in for the long haul unless there is first class surgical intervention, but the oils will provide gentle relief.

I left. But the experience refused to leave me. The emotional pain was as real as her physical pain and I could feel it. It is quite possible that when an athlete stands on a stage to collect a gold medal, he/she is really standing on the backs of the hundreds of athletes who are too bent over in pain to raise up and collect it. Every gold is their gold too.