A Big Thank You… by Leanne Callaghan

A Big Thank You to Dave Thomas, Massage for Life 
By Leanne Callaghan

Dave Thomas has been successfully helping to keep my overworked body together for 2 winter race seasons. He is a sportsman himself and understands how keen we all are to keep our tired bodies ticking over at as high a level as we can manage. I was given a recommendation from a top female climber/ runner that he had made really big differences to her rehab following a dreadful pelvic ligament injury she sustained post childbirth. He definitely has an eye for helping to get broken bodies into good enough condition to be able to sustain training and racing for the whole season. I asked him to help me recover from shoulder reconstruction surgery, which had been to repair ruptured tendons and torn cartilage. I not only wanted to get back to normal life but also to be able to train and race in the British team again.

I always hoped I would eventually be able to rebuild the strength and climb hard rock and ice routes and ski again but after 1 year post surgery I was still stuck in cycles of pain and weakness and it seemed like it was never going to get better. Dave’s experience as a sports masseur has contributed towards helping me to strengthen and re- balance my core and upper body with great success. I am now almost
completely free of pain and have gone from having very limited use of my arm to being able to get stuck into high level competitive winter sports. I have just returned from the French Alps, where I represented Britain in the World Championships of Ski Mountaineering, in a team of 4 women and 7 men. This is a winter sport which involves climbing up and then descending mountains at high speed using light weight skis, it’s a bit like “Ski Sunday” but there is a mass race to the top of the mountains before you all put your skis on and race back down. It’s very demanding on the arms, which provide about 30% of uphill power by use of ski poles. Some races involve crossing entire ranges of mountains in one event.

Last winter I completed a few races at the end of the season but could only use one arm and I was very nervous about falling and hurting myself even more. The biggest achievement was to be the first British woman to be selected for and complete the Pierra Menta Ski race which involves racing up and down over a range of mountains in the French Alps in pairs with a total of 10,000m vertical ascent and 100km horizontal. It was a real struggle finishing with only one useful arm. This year I hope to enter again and have all 4 limbs to help me! So far I have had a good start and been on top of the podium twice in France as a veteran female.

Throughout all of these races a weekly sports massage has kept me free of injury and helped me to recover both physically and mentally from long shifts at work and also long spells of hard training. It has relieved aches and pains, muscle spasm,
fatigue and DOMS and allowed me to not only keep going, but also start improving.

I don’t think I could have achieved this great start without “Massage for life” and would like to say a big thanks to Dave for his expertise, patience and encouragement. The season is only half way through and I have high hopes that Gaby Lees and I will be the first British female team ever to complete the Pierra Menta mountain race next month!


A previous life as a climber before a show stopping injury sent me looking for rehab and sports massage.