Therapy from Waldemar, first of two sessions

So I have a long weekend this week, and decided to make the drive up to Ottawa to enjoy it in all its wintery glory. It’s much colder than Toronto, so you have no choice but to invest in a nice coat and get on with your life. People in Toronto complain incessantly about winter, but people here tend to just put their coat on and get outside. It’s a refreshing attitude!

No trip to Ottawa is complete without a visit to the muscle whisperer, Waldemar. Sessions are a very enjoyable combination of therapy interspersed with (me prodding him for) his thoughts on anatomy, biomechanics, training theory and design after 42 years in the recovery and regeneration business.

Today was my first session. Knowing he is a fan of Polish pastry and that there’s a severe lack of Polish bakeries in Ottawa, yesterday before leaving Toronto I popped down to the venerable Granowska’s on Roncesvalles, a two block walk from the school I work at. He appreciated it, and made me a cup of tea while we enjoyed a Polish donut and chatted.

After a quick check of my glutes, hamstrings, and calves, he set me up for about 25 minutes of acupuncture. It seems the method he uses has a fair amount in common with Dr. Prebeg’s “Contemporary Medical Acupuncture” approach (for those who have watched the Solving Problems download).

To start with, he noticed that the slight scoliosis / twist in my spine, and hip height differential looked more pronounced than it had in the past, and asked me what I’d done to it of late. I think it’s from running the turn on the indoor 200m track, and I haven’t even done it much this year! I’ve really noticed a strange soreness and bulging on the left side of my ribcage underneath the pectoral muscles.

He noted that my muscles were much less tight than last year (thanks to Frank and his excellent therapy!), but he stressed that I have clearly not been taking his stretching advice seriously enough. He explained that when a muscle has a greater range of motion, a small amount of tightness in the muscle will not compromise a training session as much. In an athlete with a lesser range of motion, a small amount of tightness may cut into the required range of motion of the sprint movement too much, necessitating abandoning speed work until another day.

Tomorrow, he plans on stretching me manually, so I will have to perform a short warmup before arriving.

Throughout today’s session, we chatted about a variety of issues. One of the interesting topics discussed was the use of the pool for tempo workouts, as well as some speed related activities. Especially for older athletes like myself, he reiterated the need to avoid overusing the track, and to use deep water for tempo on regular occasions due to the lack of loading on joints. He also reminded me of some of the long term advantages of avoiding weight-bearing loads during tempo. He also mentioned that the work done in water though easier on joints, is more difficult work for muscles, thus the volume / intensity must be monitored carefully.

Needless to say, his massage technique is very different than what others have performed on med on me. He never seems to need to apply much pressure to be able to loosen muscles, and the techniques he uses make my muscles feel very restored by the end of the session. What is probably the most important thing is that it doesn’t take very long to recover from his work at all, which is different than what I’ve experienced with other therapists.

One of the interesting differences is between Waldemar’s style and that of younger therapists, who in my experience tend to be very concerned with fascia. In my experience getting worked on by those with an ART background, especially in the calves and hamstrings, is that they use a lot of simpler straight lines, instead of going across the muscles and shaking them, and there tends to be much more “digging” resulting in longer recovery times. Obviously I can’t speak for everyone, but this has been what I can generalize about my experience with sports / ART types vs. Waldemar’s approach.

I will be heading back for another session tomorrow, then returning again in mid-February for a tuneup. Tomorrow’s session should be quicker, but I will return in mid-February for another one or two sessions right before my final two weeks of indoor races.

In February, I plan to ask about muscle tone, and how to begin to comprehend if one’s tone is optimal. It is simply a concept that I do not understand at all right now. Also, when I return in February I’d like to ask whether I have a proper understanding of how to incorporate EMS into my training for strength development, as well as active recovery.

POST YOUR NOTES!!! (if you dont mind)


Thanks for the info. Have you seen this article from Derek?

No I had not. Great link John, thanks!

I know Waldemar uses Trager massage technique. (I’m right?)
About electroacupuncture, He use microcurrent instead of “macrocurrent” approach.(I’m right?)
I remember this from some conversation with Charlie.

I’ve seen him use a variety of massage techniques in video footage.

T-Slow, I remember Charlie telling me that Waldemar didn’t use a lot of lotion; he had a small vial of oil that would last him a long time. Have you found that to be the case with the techniques he’s used on you? I get the impression Waldemar does not use a lot of the long gliding/stroking techniques typically associated with massage, but I’ve never met him or seen him work.

Other than stretching, has Waldemar given you any other techniques/method that you can do yourself for recovery/maintenance between therapy sessions? Are there any resources he has referred you to?

One sign of a very good therapist

what kind of video??? tnx

Hello all,

So I had my second session with Waldemar a couple of days ago. After letting the work settle in for a couple of days, I feel like I can comment better on what my experience was.

I was supposed to see him after running some tempo in the morning so he could manually stretch me, but I wasn’t able to get to the track that early, so the stretching will have to wait until mid-February when I go back for more treatment.

I am not certain of Waldemar’s approach to acupuncture. I can say that he immediately finds the right spots, and that the acupuncture started from the upper mid-spine and covered parts of the mid-spine, lower back, glutes, hamstrings, and calves. It did remind me of Dr. Prebeg’s approach, though Waldemar definitely used more needles in more areas. It lasted about 25 minutes, perhaps a little shorter than in my first session.

He does not always begin a massage session with acupuncture- in the past he has warmed up my muscles using EMS. Of course this has depended on a variety of circumstances, such as how tight I was, whether I had a race that weekend, etc.

He was pleased with the results of the first session, and so was I! I felt a lot better- I didn’t even realize how tight I actually was until after the first session, when I felt significantly looser and just freer to move.

What really struck me the evening after the first session was that I already felt fully recovered from the work! There was no soreness whatsoever, only lightness throughout the body and especially a feeling of much less resistance when lifting the knee. Overall there was a feeling of being restored. (sorry, but that’s the best way I can describe it)

During the second session, I really tried to pay attention to the strokes being used. First of all, I don’t think he has ever used any oil on me. In this session, he applied some Deep Cold after the acupuncture session, and began massaging. The Deep Cold absorbed / evaporated after a couple of minutes, and he continued working on me for about 45 minutes.

When he has worked on me, there has been a lot of jostling or shaking in his technique. For example, I can’t remember him ever zeroing in on a muscle and going to town on it (even last year when my calves were practically in spasm). He somehow loosens me better than a therapist who really digs though.

I had to drive 4 hours home to Toronto, and expected to lose some of the benefit of the second session. Instead, I felt twice as good the day after.

Perhaps part of this was the acupuncture work just setting in, but something strange also occurred. I started to notice after my first session a slightly improved feeling of emotional well-being; basically more positive and relaxed.

By 24 hours after the second session, I felt a very noticeable increase in feelings of positivity, which coincided with greater overall looseness, and feeling quick, light and strong.

I am really glad I got two sessions- it made me begin to realise how much better than just “a good therapist” he really is. He understands not only the body, but the full training context, and each treatment is clearly fully thought out, and has a purpose.

To boil it down, I think there are two key issues:

  1. You recover FAST. I have never experienced such a quick recovery (nor have I received an emotional boost from massage before), and not only that- you feel better than just “recovered.”

  2. There is no way you are getting hurt if you are receiving regular therapy under his care unless you are negligent. You can try, but I just don’t see it happening.

If after two sessions I can feel a noticeable difference, can you imagine the potential benefits of regular treatments within the context of an overall training plan? Now I have an inkling of how Ben was able to run so often (and why Waldemar doesn’t feel the need to advertise).

He never digs! Other therapists I’ve had sometimes encounter tightness and hone in on it, and get to work. He is very patient as Charlie seemed to be. There is a good deal of shaking / rocking in his work. He has never used any oil, lotion or cream on me (with the exception of rubbing some Deep Cold on between acupuncture and massage) to my knowledge.

Waldemar is yet another casualty of the naive self-righteousness of the Canadian sport system (particularly Track and Field) and the jealousy that had built prior to 1988. With people like Charlie and Waldemar (and Gerard Mach) involved with athlete development, Canada could be seen as the epicenter of elite athlete performance. After Seoul and the Dubin Inquiry, they were thrown aside and their names were trounced by Canadian officials and the Canadian media. They threw the baby out with the bathwater and track and field has not recovered since. The low-lifes of the sporting world would much rather attribute all of their success to chemistry and not exceptional skill and knowledge.

How many people in the world have the knowledge and experience of people like Charlie and Waldemar? ZERO. Not even close. We could have benefited significantly in the 1990’s if these individuals were give a chance to explain the positive aspects of the training system they employed. If not for the internet, how would we have had the chance to listen to Charlie’s thoughts on training? There are only tidbits of information on Waldemar - through Charlie and others who have had the opportunity to be treated by him. I hope that he is given the opportunity and accolades to share his knowledge.

I totally agree, that was very well said. Some of the therapy people on staff at CSCO, some of whom spoke at the recent conference in Toronto, are just that- therapy people, and young, inexperienced ones at that.

Many were still in their 20’s, and seemed to have little concept of track and field other than as a set of biomechanical movements.

They clearly had no concept of “Recovery and Regeneration”. Therapy is about muscles. To put it verly succinctly, Waldemar is a whole lot more than that.

(electro)Acupuncture, massage like trager or NST/Bowen (not invasive, but regulative), EMS and stretching, can do the difference.
Great smart, “not-destructive” structural, ANS balancing approach.

This is the real THERAPY!


The best massage work I have ever received was from Charlie. It was light years beyond anyone else who has worked on me, and I’ve had some pretty good people work on me. And Charlie described his skill as basic Igor level compared to Waldemar. When he was working on me, I tried to imaging what Waldemar’s work felt like and then the idea of having that six days a week. You begin to really understand the possibilities of what the body can do with that kind of care. Feeling is believing.

my daughter has a horse that is treated with Equine Bowen therapy and she reckons it is like watching magic and there is no point trying to ride that day as the horse is just so hyper and full of energy it is dangerous.

It’s dangerous, but not for the Horse! :slight_smile: