top of page
  • Writer's pictureGary Moller

How to Prevent Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) in Athletes and Traveling Sports Teams

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT, phlebitis) among apparently healthy men and women is disturbingly common. I will see as many as two cases per month.

Example: Former national class runner, now in early 60's, developed a calf strain after a short run. This coincided with a journey by car to Auckland and back to Wellington.

He had booked in with me for some deep tissue massage of the injured calf.

He struggled into the office and had a pale complexion and a hint of purple on the lips. Since there was no history of an actual injury to the ankle I concentrated on assessing his pulses, blood pressure and circulation. On the basis of what I found, I referred him immediately to his doctor who immediately referred him to the hospital where it was confirmed he was suffering from blood clots in his leg.

To have massaged the leg, anything other than gently, may have dislodged a clot, which may have then found its way into the lungs - not good!

Cases encountered over just one Christmas period: Four males training as endurance athletes (running and cycling). They had come to see me for help with calf pain. Two required hospital specialist treatment. One developed a blood clot on his lung. A fourth person was sent off to his doctor with a suspected silent heart attack.

Massage Therapists - take note!

If a person, including an athlete comes to you for a massage of a sore calf muscle, consider the possibility that the pain is due to a deep vein thrombosis. You may be the first health professional that a person with DVT related pain seeks out for relief. Be vigilant! Massaging a limb with a silent DVT may prove fatal. Be aware of the signs and symptoms and do not hesitate to get medical help if a DVT is even remotely suspected.

Few people realise that athletes and very active people are among the most at-risk of developing a blood clot

But why did I encounter so many cases around Christmas? Well: Its easy to see why - Over-training, exhaustion, the excess stress of last minute work pressures, standing about at end of year corporate functions, drinking alcohol and eating too much fatty finger food; and then there is the Xmas shopping, kids not at school and then to top it all off - the relations arrive!