Meet Alicia and other elite athletes at the AMTA 2016 National Convention, October 26-29 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Hear her discuss the health benefits of massage therapy at the Closing Session panel Bringing Home the Gold: Olympians + Massage Therapy on Saturday, October 29.
Q&A With Alicia Dana
What is your biggest source of motivation/inspiration as an athlete?
I grew up competing in athletics from the age of five. I had four older siblings to try and keep up with, on skis and bikes, and also several National Champions and Olympians in my community. So in a way, the inspiration and motivation to train hard and compete well has been part of my awareness from a young age. Seeing other athletes—particularly cyclists—racing and training inspires and motivates me a lot.
What are some of the biggest life challenges you've faced? How did you deal with these challenges?
One of my biggest life challenges has been my accident at age 17, which in one instant turned me from an able-bodied, aspiring cyclist to being disabled, in a wheelchair, unable to walk. This was devastating.
Over the years, I have faced this challenge one day at a time. I have sought and found new ways to be in the world, physically, mentally and socially—allowing me to cope with my disability and find a life of meaning and worth. Disabled sports is an example of one way I express myself, challenge my perceived limitations and develop strength and endurance, which helps me to handle the daily life challenges that regularly come my way.
How does massage therapy enhance your training or performance?
Massage has helped me with my recovery. I experience a lot of muscle tension and fatigue—not just from training, but off the bike being in a wheelchair all the time. Spending an hour with my massage therapist provides the hands-on nurturing that my body and mind both crave.
Describe how you use massage therapy as part of training and competition for the Paralympics.
Thanks to Team Roger C Peace, I have been able to get regular massage therapy for the past year. Though only once a week or every two weeks (I could really use more!), it has provided me with the deep relaxation and tension relief I am unable to achieve on my own. It has helped me become more aware of areas of muscle tension, tightness, pain, etc, and more attuned to what I CAN do to alleviate this.
You've competed in previous Paralympics. What makes the 2016 Paralympics in Rio different?
The 2012 Paralympics in London was my first ever big international event, having only just made the National Team two months prior. I was pretty new to the sport, didn't know my competition, my teammates or what it was like to travel with the team, so I was pretty overwhelmed. I now have four years of experience behind me, which is a resource I can draw upon to give it my all. I have a feeling my best Paralympic moments are still to come!
More About Alicia
By age 16, Alicia was competing as a junior at the national level in both cycling and cross-country skiing as an able-bodied athlete. But at 17, Dana had to adjust her athletic goals after she fell from a tree and was paralyzed from the waist down. She began handcycling in her late 20s, and in 2000 she rode from Washington State to Vermont to raise money for disability-related causes.
Dana was one of seven female cyclists named to Team USA for the London 2012 Paralympic Games. In 2013 and 2014, Dana established her rank on Team USA with medals at World Cup events, and in 2014 she became World Time Trial Champion. Currently, she is on Team USA heading to Rio.
AMTA 2016 National Convention Closing Session
Bringing Home the Gold: Olympians + Massage Therapy
Saturday, October 29, 2-4pm | 2 Credit Hours | Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Featuring Bonnie Blair, Alicia Dana, Kerri Strug, Abby Wambach. Moderated by Dr. Brent Bauer of the Mayo Clinic.
Research shows massage therapy can benefit athletes of all fitness levels, and Olympic athletes are no exception. A panel of elite athletes will share how massage therapy helped them reach their Olympic dreams. The Mayo Clinic’s Dr. Brent Bauer will moderate the discussion and explain the science of massage for athletes.
Register now »