Massage on beach eases pain of play Volleyball: Before, between and after Inner Harbor matches, players trying for the Olympics seek out healing hands.

Beach Watch

June 06, 1996|By Jean Marbella | Jean Marbella,SUN STAFF

Day Two of the Olympic beach volleyball trials, at the here-today, gone-next-week beach on Baltimore's Inner Harbor, is barely under way. But Janet Vizard and Teri Rishell already have their hands full.

Vizard is lightly kneading the long, bronzed expanse that is Brent Frohoff. Rishell is thumbs-deep in the calf muscles of Gayle Stammer. Other players wander in, put their names on the growing waiting list and share a bit of gossip with their supine colleagues.

Before, between and after matches, the volleyball players seek the healing hands of the Maryland Professional Sports Massage Team, who are donating their time and expertise to the Olympic effort that has set up camp this week on the HarborView Complex off Key Highway.

"We knew it'd be a lot of shoulders and backs," Vizard says, "but it turns out they use every part of their bodies."

As with most elite athletes, the volleyball players are their own best diagnosticians -- they arrive in the tent with highly specific sites of aches and pains.

"They know their bodies well. They tell us which muscles hurt, which makes our job easier. With recreational athletes, they just know they hurt somewhere," Rishell says.

With their gentle voices and empathetic ways, Rishell and Vizard create an oasis of calm for the players, as they give them individualized treatments -- a loosening and warming-up massage for those heading into a match; a deeper, more vigorous massage to start the recovery process for those done for the day.

Massage is an increasingly common part of the traveling tent shows that modern sports events have spawned: It's available at marathons, bicycle tours and just about anywhere athletes put their bodies through strenuous paces. One of the first questions several volleyball players had when they arrived this week was, where's the massage tent?

At the trials site, it was in the mini-Olympic village behind the main court, a sandy circle of tents where the players lounge, shower, eat, practice and visit with each other and a sprinkling of spouses and children.

Yesterday, several players noted the hard-packed sand, courtesy of the rainstorm the night before. The high-jumping and low-diving athletes were feeling the punishing effects of the concrete parking lot beneath the man-made beach.

Many headed for the all-purpose remedy for soreness, kept in several locations near the medical and massage tents.

"Ice is our friend," player Deb Richardson said in mock school-nurse style as her fellow athletes applied it to their elbows, shoulders, knees and backs. One even stuffed an ice pack into the low-cut back of her bathing suit, chilling both her lumbar area and a can of soda.

And another followed a match by immersing herself waist-deep into a trash can filled with ice.

Pub Date: 6/06/96

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