Yes, Curlers Can Pull Muscles, Too ; the U.S. and Britain Even Have Trainers Solely to Work on Their Teams

By Pilon, Mary | International New York Times, February 15, 2014 | Go to article overview

Yes, Curlers Can Pull Muscles, Too ; the U.S. and Britain Even Have Trainers Solely to Work on Their Teams


Pilon, Mary, International New York Times


The United States and Britain are the only teams with physical therapists devoted solely to curling, one of the less strenuous sports on show.

Among the things that a curling team would not seem to need, an official athletic trainer might rank with a beach umbrella and a maid to sweep up after the athletes. But here is Brian McWilliams, a certified athletic trainer, on hand to treat any injury that might befall an American curler.

He knows what you're thinking.

"I get that all the time: 'What injuries do they have?"' McWilliams said. "You know, it looks so simple. But it's really a unique and difficult sport."

There are certainly events at these Winter Games that require sophisticated medical assistance. Athletes have sustained severe injuries in violent crashes in slopestyle skiing and moguls, and danger looms over the sliding sports like luge because of the speeds attained. Curling? Less so.

The United States and Britain are the only delegations here with trainers devoted solely to their curling teams. The Canadian team, a longtime powerhouse in the sport, relies on a staff shared with athletes in other sports, and the Russian team enjoys home-court access to a variety of medical and training professionals.

Maggie Bush, the physiotherapist for Britain's curlers, described it as a "dream job." A Scot who hails from generations of curlers, Bush moved from working with dancers and performers in London's West End to curlers after moving back to Scotland in 2007.

"There's a lot of similarities," Bush said of curling and dancing. "A lot of the stuff we try to work with dancers was obviously trying to make them technically good at what they are doing, and that's the same of the work we were doing with the curlers."

Among her duties is monitoring the athletes and their muscles to examine patterns in soreness, which has proved effective in reducing injuries, she said.

"If specific muscles get tight," Bush said, "then it's harder for them to slide well and slightly increases their chance of an injury to a specific area."

McWilliams, who is based in Green Bay, Wis., accompanies the United States team on most of its international competitions. Among his responsibilities: making sure any medication used by one of the curlers does not violate the antidoping code. …

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