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The Healing Stroke

Michalene Busico

As energizing as a round of golf can be, it is also a strenuous workout for certain parts of the body, particularly the shoulders, hip flexors, and lower back. No wonder that spas around the country are adding massages tailored for golfers. One of latest to do so is the Grand Del Mar in San Diego, a resort with a spectacular course in Los Peñasquitos Canyon—and a clientele likely to be on vacation, and perhaps on the links, for days after a long time away.

The resort’s Golf Revitalization Massage was designed as either a warm-up before a round or a soothing treatment afterward. “It’s a completely custom massage,” says Polly Brasch, a licensed massage therapist and a creator of the treatment. It focuses on the sport’s most heavily used muscles and joints, including the quadratis lumborum in the lower back; the hip flexors, quadriceps, and hamstrings; and the many muscles of the shoulder, particularly the teres major and minor of the rotator cuff.

Brasch begins the hour-long treatment, which costs $195 on weekdays and $205 on weekends, by asking what part of the body is aching and in need of attention. She applies an anti-inflammatory gel to the trouble spots, followed by either a warm clay wrap to soothe soreness (often in lower-back muscles) or a cold clay wrap to reduce inflammation (often in the wrist joint). She then moves on to a vigorous deep-tissue massage, using a heated oil infused with rosemary, eucalyptus, sage, and other herbs.

Massage has long been part of the training routine for elite athletes, and it has become increasingly popular among recreational sports enthusiasts of all kinds. In fact, the most popular massage at spas in the United States is deep-tissue/sports massage, which is on the menu at 95 percent of spas in the country, according to a 2012 study by the International Spa Association. Golf massage is included in this burgeoning category, and can benefit athletes at any level, says Diane Trieste, director of massage and wellness for the Bellus Academy in Poway, California, and a former massage therapist to Olympic athletes including the gymnast Kerri Strug and the discus thrower Anthony Washington. “Sports massage can be used on any human being,” Trieste says, “to maintain and excel health within the body, increase flexibility and muscle strength, address acute injuries, care for chronic injuries, and provide an overall health-maintenance program from touch.” And of course, to improve performance.

While Brasch at the Grand Del Mar focuses on deep-tissue work after a game, to stimulate blood flow and circulation, she will concentrate on stretching and range of motion when the massage is done before a round. “To warm up and relax muscles,” she says. And, perhaps, to help sink a birdie on the very first hole.

The Spa at the Grand Del Mar, 858.314.2020, www.thegranddelmar.com

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