Training with the American Magic

Newport Neighbors, August 2019
By Dr. Daniel Hatch

NPT HealthWorks is honored to be working with some of the best sailors in the world, we couldn’t have been more excited to accept our supporting role as a provider of massage and physical therapy to the entire team of American Magic and their shore crew. As myself and many of our staff have grown up here on Aquidneck Island, we’re honored to play a role in their ongoing endeavor to bring the America’s Cup home to Newport RI. Working alongside the talented in house personnel of Ryan West and Baden Cashmore, our goal is to help the team achieve and maintain performing at their highest level with the least amount of discomfort possible and with the lowest chance for injury. Injury = lost time on the water = decreased performance.

Like all athletes that walk through our doors, sailors have to contend with the rigors of training. Due to the specific postural and physical demands of their sport, common areas of potential injury are the low back, neck, shoulders and forearms. Through bio-mechanical screenings, mobility sessions and strength training, the team and NPT looks to reduce these potentials. If an issue does occur, tight monitoring insures early detection and allows for a interventions with treatment modalities (manual therapy, dry needling etc.) to help correct and treat these issues before they become injuries. A strong argument can be made that the demands on the American Magic sailors/support team bodies are greater than normal as they are moving at such high speeds and dealing with larger forces than most other sailing teams. This results in increased stressors on the human body & mind and subsequently requires an increased amount of recovery work.

Let’s define recovery work. Yes it’s called “work” as is in large part it is an active process and may include stretching, massage, foam rolling, trigger point dry needling, rest, proper hydration and nutrition, and meditation. A common misconception is the body recovers with rest alone. Though an important component of any recovery program, it is not enough to properly prepare for the next training or performance session.

Speaking of the mind, the American Magic team is also faced with the ongoing mental and emotional stress of a long term, high stakes campaign. There is no denying the connection between mind and body. The evidence is clear. Adding to the physical wear and tear of training, stress will have a negative impact on the body if left unaddressed. Stress can result in muscle tension or pain, fatigue, and restlessness which can subsequently decrease performance. Taking the time to focus on the body and mind through massage, myofascial release sessions, and PT treatments greatly reduces the negative effects of this stress.