Teemu Selanne won the hearts of hockey fans long before he won a Dodge Durango 4x4 as the most valuable player in the 1998 all-star game in Vancouver.
He scored a hat trick that day and his lasting impact as a 43-year-old ambassador, who looks 33 and sometimes plays as if he’s 23, can be traced to a zest for the game and living life to the fullest — even as a former rally driver in his native Finland.
For all that to occur, and for Selanne to endure the rigours of a 22-year career, he has worked with Performance Health Group in Vancouver since the 2010 Winter Olympics — specifically with local chiropractor Dr. Robert Nielsen — and credits ART (Active Release Techniques) for durability and flexibility.
By manually treating affected tissues to break up adhesions or scar tissues in muscles, tendons, ligaments and nerves, ART has allowed Selanne’s core to remain strong and stable and kept muscle groups from binding. Nielsen credits Selanne’s genetics and willingness to explore techniques for being an anomaly in a game that starts to drain players in their 30s.
“Teemu thoroughly researches what works well for him,” said Nielsen. “He’s obviously a gifted athlete, but he puts a lot of work into training and maintenance, and if he didn’t pursue things like ART, he’d have a good career, but it probably would have been over with many years ago.
“ The glutes (gluteus muscles) and hip flexors being loaded can create scar tissue and cause the hips not to move as well. The more scar tissue you have, the less power you generate from those muscles and it affects speed, agility and performance.”
For the Anaheim Ducks winger, who has had serious knee ailments and surgery, looking after the rest of his body as he got older and more susceptible to hamstring or groin pulls became of paramount importance.
It allowed the amiable Selanne to play all 82 games in the 2011-12 season, 46 of 48 in the lockout season, and 61 of the Ducks’ 78 games in his farewell campaign, heading into Monday night’s contest against the Canucks.
ART has become Selanne’s MVP.
“If you can even save two injuries, it’s working,” he said Monday before his final Rogers Arena appearance. “For hockey players, it helps the core. Glutes activation is the most important thing. If you get tight and you don’t use them any more, you start compensating with your groins and lower back and then you get a pull or hurt your back — it (ART) is a no-brainer. Hips and glutes are the most important parts and that’s what I keep working on.
“ART has been huge for me. Unbelievable. Seriously, it’s the most important reason why my muscles are in such great shape. I go twice a week (in Anaheim) and go here when I’m on the road. And I hope the young guys will realize how important this is, but they’re younger and don’t get it — but they will.
“The older we get, the toughest challenge is recovery time. You have to be very disciplined with that and your diet and ART, and I’ve been taking some back-to-backs off.
“It helps in the long run, but the main thing is to look after yourself. I could play another year, but it has to stop somewhere. With the Sochi Olympics and this team and even the outdoor game on the schedule, it really made me want to play this year,” said Selanne, who added that he intends to stay in the game in the Ducks’ organization.
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