THE SURFING STARS THERAPIST
I got my first chance to work with pro surfers at the US Open after contacting the WSL and pitching my services to them. Then I met the Hurley High Performance Centre’s program director, Dr Jeremy Sheppard, while working at some pro events last year. I made an offhand comment about being homesick for Australia and he joked about getting me to work with their team. Of course, he wasn’t joking and now here I am!
My day-to-day job as a performance therapist involves helping elite surfers do what they do best, better. I listen to their concerns about muscle pain, tightness or restrictions in movement and we work together with their strength coach to resolve it. Sometimes that’s in the gym during training sessions, at competitions or more chilled sessions in my clinic.
I’m with my athletes every step of the way, so I feel their wins and losses on an emotional level. I like that were a team and they know I’m there for them, whether that’s with a consoling hug or a high-five. Being an integral part of a surfers’ crew is a pretty special feeling, even though they might curse me sometimes for using my elbows on their sore muscles!
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The biggest challenge I’ve faced in running my own business was dealing with people who said I couldn’t do it, way back when I first had this dream. When I landed on a surf-focused business, some people thought that setting my sights on the pro tour was unrealistic. But I persisted, believing in my abilities and that I have something special to offer. All I needed back then was a chance, for someone to say, ‘let me see what you can do’. I still count my blessings that I was given that opportunity – but it didn’t just fall in my lap, I had to fight for it.
I would love to see Global Performance Therapy grow into a multi-disciplinary clinic, where different practitioners integrate and innovate for the benefit of the patient. And I absolutely think there needs to be more women in surfing. I see a need in every facet of the industry – from shapers to coaches, therapists to pro surfers. We need to be the change and it starts with us.”
Donna Masing, 28, runs soft tissue clinic Global Performance Therapy at the Hurley Surfing Australia High Performance Centre in northern NSW. She’s the therapist to the Australian pro surfing team and contracts to the World Surf League. globalperformancetherapy.com
I grew up I was going to run my own business. I was an athlete (triple jump and sprints), but I was always getting hurt and a major injury ended my career at the tender age of 17. It did, however, get me really interested in high performance sport and what was happening to my body when I was injured. I’ve now been a performance therapist for eight years.
Funnily enough, I got into working with elite surfers when I lived in the Middle East! It has the world’s best wave pool so pro surfers were always flying in and out. I also had my first surfing lessons in Dubai, and after getting bitten by the surfing bug I realised there was only one way to deal – I had to combine my two biggest passions, and the only way.
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