If you’re interested to know what kind of gig you could get as a physio, see what we wrangled out of the IBA’s massage therapist, Michelle Rozzen.
How did you get into Physiotherapy or massage?
I played 11 years of water polo during high school and college, and during those years I had a long list of my own injuries to heal and patch up. With all of the physiotherapy and massage I received, I became very interested in learning about the muscles and therapy modalities.
Was working with athletes always what you’ve wanted to do?
Since I have been an athlete my entire life, I always knew I’d end up working with professional athletes at some point.
Did you ever think you’d be working with bodyboarders, considering the amount of more well known sports?
For over seven years I have worked on professional NFL & MLB Players, water polo athletes, as well as surfers, bodyboarders, cyclists, snowboarders locally and internationally. Working with athletes involved in water sports though has always been my favorite because I am most passionate about the sports myself. During the past three years, I have had the opportunity in working with the IBA World Tour and USBA National Tour. This has been a great experience and I hope to continue to become more involved with the IBA World Tour and the ASP Tour in the future.
What’s a typical day at one of the events consists of?
Dawn patrol wake up call. Grab some brekky and head to the beach with my massage table and coconut oil. Set up my table in the competitors’ tent and begin the contest day, providing massage to competitors. I rarely break for lunch, and I take a few stretching breaks during the day to keep myself flexible and strong. The riders’ positive energy keeps me going and I just work until the contest day is over. Pretty hectic, but the riders need to be at the top of their game, to get the best scores and to give a good show to the audience. After the day is over I grab some food and usually continue with massage appointments till dinner. Long days but the athletes (and staff) need to keep fit and healthy for their heats.
Have you ever had to tell anyone that they can’t or shouldn’t compete due to an injury?
Since I’m not a doctor, I don’t give full on medical advice. But I have advised riders that they should be careful, because they might re-injure or make an injury worse if they continue to ride. If they need extra therapy I sometimes do Reiki or Cranio-Sacral treatment and therapeutic stretching.
Who’s the healthiest booger that’s on the world tour?
That’s tough to answer because I’m not with them all day, seeing their workout and daily diet. But the riders I see more often and speak to about their health and fitness I’d say overall Mike Stewart, Jeff Hubbard, Michael Novy, Natasha Sargardia, and Alejandra Altuve.
Are your friends envious that you get to massage fit, young bodyboarders all day?
My guy friends are more envious because they look up to many of the bodyboarders on tour and are a bit hung up on the fact I get to travel with them. My girl friends are just jealous I get to massage hot men all day! Haha I can’t blame them though.
What’s the most common strain or injury that you see?
With bodyboarders I most often see a strained low back, shoulder injuries or calve cramps.
Is keeping fit and healthy essential for a rider to compete on the world tour these days?
Keeping fit and healthy is essential for all athletes to compete at a professional level. Even I have to be in top shape to help fix my clients.
For any bodyboarder who wants to better their fitness and muscles what’s your best advice?
Eat well because what you put in your body will either help or hurt your athletic performance. I’m a big fan of Bikram yoga, Pilates, swimming, and hiking. Recently I started doing Paul Chek training after Michael Novy and Jake Stone told me about it. All bodyboarders should practice; it’s a must for all riders! Also, if you can’t afford to get weekly massages, get some self-massage tools, stretch with a Swiss ball and foam roller, this will help so much!
And for anyone wanting to get into physiotherapy/massage are there any steps that you they should adhere too?
Find someone to learn from. Try out different types of massage and Massage Therapists and find one that works for you. Practice modalities that you like to receive on yourself because it will create your passion for what you will want to study. Learn from a group of different therapists, the more modalities you know, the smarter you will be in creating your own style. Then go to massage school to learn more about the muscles and structure of the body.
To contact Michelle Rozzen email her: [email protected]