Soccer Star Seeks Out Serbian Placenta Massage to Speed Healing

By Andrew Moseman | November 17, 2009 3:00 pm

van persie220It’s official, ladies and gentlemen: There’s nothing that athletes won’t try.

Here in the United States we’re inundated with stories of athletes doping with steroids and human growth hormone, as well as resorting to more… unusual forms of physical treatment, like when former Chicago Cubs outfielder Moises Alou once mentioned that he urinated on his hands to toughen them up. Europe, however, has some equally bizarre treatments and alternative medicine that have yet to enter the American sporting zeitgeist. Take Arsenal striker Robin Van Persie’s new hope of returning quickly from a recent injury: placenta massage.

The Dutch footballer tore ankle ligaments in a recent match against Italy. In hopes of returning in less than the standard six-week recovery period, Van Persie is off to Serbia for a procedure about which he knows almost no particulars. “She is vague about her methods but I know she massages you using fluid from a placenta,” he said. “I am going to try. It cannot hurt and, if it helps, it helps.”

Despite the lack of detail, Arsenal’s physicians consented to Van Persie receiving the placenta procedure. Why not? BBC News reports that there are health benefits associated with placenta, and besides, there’s no talking athletes out of something that has even the slimmest chances of improving recovery or performance:

England footballer Wayne Rooney used an oxygen tent prior to the 2006 World Cup to help him recover from a broken foot and six years ago runner Paula Radcliffe rubbed oil from the belly of an emu to ease injuries sustained in a collision with a cyclist.

No word yet, however, on whether Major League Baseball is considering a ban on placenta and emu oil.

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Image: flickr/ Wonker

  • Brian Too

    I would like to offer Van Persie my brand new, shiny, patent-pending feather tickle for sports therapy. Guaranteed to “radiate the music of the spheres”, “conform your inner healing field with the chi of the team”, and “empower your super tao to be the best you can be”.

    Just send me a SASE stuffed with cash and feel the love!

  • Nathan

    There’s nothing crazy about emu oil. There have been many studies performed on it’s ability to reduce inflammation and moisturize the skin. It’s helped thousands of people to heal faster. Also, the fat is found on the back of the bird instead of the belly, but that’s a common misconception.


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