Knot a Problem

Knot a Problem: Using Massage Therapy as a recovery tool

Good programming might be helping your athletes reach peak athletic performance, but a recovery program is what will keep their progress from stalling and reducing the risk of injury. Massage therapy is one of those recovery tools.

John Prescott, head Coach and co-owner at CrossFit Exchange in Raleigh, North Carolina, quickly realized the benefits massage therapy could bring to his Box as he began to see a disconnect in his athletes’ rehabilitation.

“After working with athletes, I quickly realized there was a significant disconnect between athletes trying to become stronger and faster but lacking the knowledge and understanding of body mechanics and muscle function to do so,” said Prescott. “I began to see this very linear progression of watching athletes simply go through the motions of movement with no basis for why we were doing it in the first place. I decided then my next course of action to create a better platform for performance was to become educated, so I went to massage therapy school. This proved to really open my eyes to kinesthetic movement, muscle function and dysfunction, as well as common injuries.”

Not every athlete at your Box is going to be pursuing a professional fitness career. The majority will have desk jobs and use CrossFit as their getaway from the 9 to 5 routine. However, what they might not be realizing is how harmful sitting at their desk is to their body and how important taking recovery steps can be for their fitness.

“My athletes come in at the 5:30 p.m. class and expect to crush some heavy back squats for a strength set,” explained Prescott. “More often than not, I will hear the aches and groans of my athletes because their hip flexors and hamstrings are wound like a jack-in–the-box from spending the entire day in a seated position. Then, we compound that stiffness and dysfunction by plowing through a heavy set only to feel like a rubber band about to snap. This type of routine is something we, as Coaches, see every single day so offering even a 15 or 30-minute session to focus on specific target areas has shown incredible strides in athletes’ abilities to both recover, as well as heal from any other previous injury.”

Understanding the needs of your Box’s population is a crucial aspect to being an Affiliate. A good Coach should always have the best intentions in mind for their athletes, and massage therapy might be one of the tools in their arsenal.

“Simply ignoring a problem area with an athlete or accepting that they might not be able to perform simple functional movement will never allow them the growth they are capable of,” said Prescott. “As owners and Coaches, we should always have their needs in the front lines as we tackle issues, and I have found offering massage has allowed me to gain more knowledgeable athletes that take their fitness more seriously. So the bottom line is if you do not have resources to help your athletes increase their abilities then it is your responsibility to find them. Subcontract out some space and let a therapist come in there. I assure you it will be a huge benefit.”

Kaitlyn is a staff writer for Peake Media. Contact her at