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No Bull

Without further hesitation, he gives a quick nod and for the next 8 seconds a 1500-pound bull twists on his body, pulls on his groin, jerks his arm and whips his head back and forth. When the horn blows, another race begins. A challenge of cunning and speed to get off without being stepped on, prodded by a horn, or run over.


September 23, 2009
By Mike Greene MT

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Without further hesitation, he gives a quick nod and for the next 8 seconds a 1500-pound bull twists on his body, pulls on his groin, jerks his arm and whips his head back and forth. When the horn blows, another race begins. A challenge of cunning and speed to get off without being stepped on, prodded by a horn, or run over. All this in a matter of seconds and to be accomplished effectively, safely and successfully, only after sitting in a truck and driving 12 hours to get to that rodeo performance. Welcome to Canadian Professional Rodeo.

The Canadian Pro Rodeo Sport Medicine Team (CPRSMT) was formed over 20 years ago to treat and help rehabilitate these professional cowboys and cowgirls. It is a non-profit group of highly skilled health practitioners that travel to approximately 15 of the 57 pro rodeos in Canada. Massage therapy has played a strong role with the CPRSMT since the early 1990s. 

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Registered Massage Therapists, Chiropractors and Athletic Therapists make up this professional team. The athletes also have access to orthopedic and Sport Medicine physicians, if required. This team approach meets the needs of the athletes.

According to information accumulated by the CPRSMT over a five-year period, from 1995 to 1999, the high injury rate group includes bull riders, bareback riders and wild horse racers. There were a total of 39 concussions reported during this study period, accounting for 8.6 per cent of all injuries (Dale Butterwick, CPRSMT Website, 2003).

In a 20-year report, prepared by the Justin Sportsmedicine Team in the United States, concussions accounted for approximately one half of all major injuries during the last 15 years (MSMS, Inc. Justin Sportsmedicine Website, 2003). 

Chronic injuries receive repetitive force and trauma year after year.  Muscle tissue, joint flexibility and tone are restricted or inhibited.  Dysfunctional muscles limit the athletes full potential. As well as decreasing adhesions and softening fibrous tissues, massage therapy provides analgesic effects. It can decrease the amount of analgesic medications and allow other forms of treatment and modalities to be more effective.

nobull2.jpgKirk Giraudier, a six-year pro rodeo bull rider, a four-time CFR competitor and a fan of massage
therapy for much of his pro career, strongly claims “it helps me to get ready and do what I need to do.”

For him, and many performers, pre-event massage provides an opportunity to focus mentally and prepare physically. Post competition time is used to treat chronic injuries to aid in rehabilitation and decrease recovery time from a new or sub acute injury.

Jason Davidson, a professional bull fighter for 12 years, had fractured his fifth lumbar vertebra after being hooked and thrown into the air and landing on his back. His recovery using massage therapy was remarkable. He now uses regular treatments, recognizing it as an integral part of his prep time and maintenance
both on and off-season.

Mark Roy, 1992 World Steer Wrestler Champion, says with confidence that “massage made the difference for me.” Roy has been a pro rodeo cowboy for over 14 years. He won both the National and Canadian Finals in 1992, was the Canadian Finals Average Champion in 1996 and was the recipient of the prestigious Guy Weadick Award.

nobull3.jpgWith this impressive resume, Roy has accumulated several injuries.  He has sustained fractures, muscle tears, joint sprains and even a life threatening visceral injury that took him out for an entire season. 

After this severe injury, Roy started using massage. “Everyone (medical community) was telling me I was done, my career was over. I tried everything to get better (with little to no improvement). Then, I tried it (massage therapy) because I had nothing to lose and it made all the difference. I’m still going.” 

No matter what accomplishments you achieve, somebody helped you.

        – Althea Gibson


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