A Standardized, Evidence-Based Massage Therapy Program for Decentralized Elite Paracyclists: Creating the Model

Ann Blair Kennedy LMT, DrPH(c), Jennifer L. Trilk PhD


Background and Purpose: Evidence suggests that para-athletes are injured more often than able-bodied athletes. The benefits of massage therapy for these disabled athletes are yet to be explored. This paper documents the process followed for creating a massage program for elite paracycling athletes with the goal to assess effects on recovery, rest, performance, and quality of life both on and off the bike.

Setting: Massage therapists’ private practices throughout the United States.

Participants: A United States paracycling team consisting of 9 elite athletes: 2 spinal cord injury, 2 lower limb amputation, 1 upper limb amputation, 1 transverse myelitis, 1 stroke, 1 traumatic brain injury, and 1 visually impaired.

Design: The process used to develop a massage therapy program for paracyclists included meetings with athletes, coaching staff, team exercise physiologist, and sports massage therapists; peerreviewed literature was also consulted to address specific health conditions of para-athletes.

Results: Team leadership and athletes identified needs for quicker recovery, better rest, and improved performance in elite paracyclists. This information was used to generate a conceptual model for massage protocols, and led to creation of the intake and exit questionnaires to assess patient health status and recovery. Forms also were created for a general health intake, therapist information, and a therapist’s SOAAP notes.

Discussion: The conceptual model and questionnaires developed herein will help to operationalize an exploratory study investigating the feasibility of implementing a standardized massage therapy program for a decentralized elite paracycling team.


massage; athletics; disability; evidence-based; quality of life

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3822/ijtmb.v8i3.269

International Journal of Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork
ISSN 1916-257X