To complement the MASSAGE Magazine article, “Massage Helps Soccer Pros Get Their Kicks,” by Keith Loria, in the March 2013 issue. Article summary: To help keep the players on the field, Major League Soccer employs massage therapists for each of its 19 teams. These therapists provide massage treatments to prevent injuries and assist in the rehabilitation of the top soccer players in North America.

by Keith Loria

Marcelo Casal has served as massage therapist for the Toronto Football Club since 2008, falling in love with “football” (what is called soccer in the U.S.) from watching his dad, a professional player.

“I’m involved in all aspects of massage; from someone having ACL [anterior cruciate ligament] surgery and starting rehab to anyone wanting maintenance on their body,” Casal says. “I also do soccer-specific work, strengthening or activating certain muscle groups.

“I like to be very hands on, and it can be anywhere from lymphatic work to doing flushes on the leg to remove lactic acid buildup,” he adds. “I also do a lot with range of motion on the hips.”

Unlike Casal, who almost played professionally himself, Traci Snyder, a massage therapist with the New York Red Bulls, knew virtually nothing about the sport when she took her position.

“I never played soccer and didn’t know the details of the sport until I was employed and watching it every day,” she says. “I knew I wanted to do something challenging where I was making a difference.”

Snyder works hand-in-hand with the team’s trainers, orthopedic specialists and physicians to ensure both veterans and rookies receive the best treatment and rehab. Before games, she helps goalies with hip work, attackers with their glutes and hamstrings, and veterans with stretching and warming up.

“I’m at every practice, every home game, every away game,” Snyder says. “When they are working, I am working.”

Keith Loria is a freelance writer who contributes regularly to MASSAGE Magazine.