Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 10/29/12 at 07:38 PM ET
from Karrie Osborn at Massage & Bodywork,
The body of the 84-year-old client on Robert Toporek’s table shows years of abuse. A once-fractured skull, uncountable broken ribs that healed with time and tape, and the remnants of 500 facial stitches have all left their mark. Yet, the client never complains; he would say these injuries—and the many more he endured over the course of his 32-year career—came part and parcel with his job.
The client is hockey legend Gordie Howe, otherwise known as Mr. Hockey. At his side is his son Mark, a hockey Hall of Famer in his own right who often speaks on his father’s behalf as age takes its toll. Helping put that body back together is Toporek, a Philadelphia bodyworker who has been Rolfing clients since 1975.
At the determined request of Mark, Gordie started coming to see Toporek for Rolfing sessions earlier this year. The father and son team made the nearly three-hour round-trip drive from New Jersey to Philadelphia every week, as Gordie progressed through his 10-session Rolfing protocol.
For those who don’t know hockey lore, it’s important to understand the brutality of the sport, especially in the early years of Gordie’s career. Equipment and protection were archaic compared to today’s gear, and the sport itself was, as it remains today, inherently vicious on the body. Lore would also tell us that Gordie has been the icon of the sport for more than six decades, and many today still crown him the best hockey player of all time. Gordie has been dealt more soft-tissue injuries than most therapists see in a lifetime of clients. Daily poundings and slams, or checks into the boards, as a professional hockey player took their toll. Learning to live with the pain by compensating for it certainly caused even more.
Gordie didn’t complain about the abuse his body took all those years while he was on the ice, and he doesn’t complain today about the aftermath of that abuse.
read on and watch a short video on Rolfing below featuring both Mark and Gordie Howe...
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