Sometimes I've really thought about the name Victory Sports Rehab and if it does me a disservice or not. While my training is as a chiropractic practitioner and a sports medicine doctor, what we are able to do at Victory is so much more than just waiting till you have pain or an injury. But why would you come to a rehab facility if you weren't injured?
1. Injury Mitigation
This one is probably the most obvious. Many times, injuries can be mitigated through prevention programs, exercises, and stretches by going through an appropriate screening. Obviously there is no way to prevent all injuries, but compounded injuries through bad motions, muscles, joints, etc, can hopefully be at a minimum mitigated to not be as severe (or even subclinical).
The problem we find though is there are so many programs and people claim that they can prevent injuries, so which one is correct? If you've read my blog posts before, then you probably know my answer is about to be vague.
The answer? It depends.
I promise I'm not trying to cop out, but it really is case dependent. There are a lot of general things that we can do (ACL prevention programs have done a good job of that) due to knowledge of the most common mechanisms of injuries. I can run a baseball pitcher through an arm care program and probably make them better, but the only way to truly know if what we are doing is helping is by doing a complete assessment that includes active movements, passive range of motion, and coordinated movements. In fact, coordination is a big factor I see in athletic injuries in children and adolescents. I love what Eric Cressey has to say on this-
Don't take mechanics solutions to athleticism problems. Before tinkering with mechanics, make sure a pitcher can jog to the mound without tripping.
You have to be an athlete first before you can be a "sports player". Fundamental athleticism is extremely important to every single athlete, no matter the sport. In fact, the NFHS and University of Wisconsin conducted a study that showed athletes that played 1 sport were 70% more likely to suffer an injury than an athlete that plays more than 1 sport. Why is that the case? Single sport athletes tend to overuse the same joints by playing that sport 8, 9, 10 months out of the year (in some cases all year round), which causes compound damage to joints. If you are only playing one sport, then injury mitigation and joint health has to be a priority, regardless of "pain".
2. Strength and Conditioning
A proper strength and conditioning program is VITAL to every single athlete, no matter the sport. Once again, it's not a one-size-fits-all approach. How I would train a football player is different than a baseball player and is different than a soccer player. Even within that, how I would train a lineman is different than a defensive back, different than a quarterback, etc. Finding a qualified S&C trainer is one of the two most important off season investments you can make. While your school or team may have a good coach, taking the time and investment to have someone actually look at your own movements, exercises, and mobility cannot be overstated.
The other important investment is your joint health. I just talked about injury mitigation, and that goes hand in hand with the S&C. Reinforcing proper joint motion is crucial to joint health and coordination (the athleticism I mentioned earlier). The more good input you create in your joints, the better coordinated output you will create (garbage in, garbage out model). I love how Dewey Nielson, one of the master instructors for Functional Range Conditioning and Kinstretch, describes mobility training. He basically says that having optimal mobility is like having the cheat codes to movement, and let me tell you, he is spot on!
Personal story- I recently just started rock climbing again after 3 years. I had a membership in 2015, before I started my own mobility training, and had a hard time figuring out the moves to bouldering. When I picked it back up this summer, I can tell you that even without climbing for 3 years, it seemed so much easier with having good control over my range of motion.
It is imperative for everyone, but especially for athletes, to make sure your joints are functioning at their highest potential, and one of the best ways I have found is through Functional Range Conditioning. There's no fluff, it is just science and the application of proper stress.
Honestly, you don't want to wait to see me until you have an injury. As my patients' know, I am gonna make you work, and it's usually easier to work with me when you're healthy than on your injury. My love is helping athletes who are injured get back to playing, so don't let this post fool you into thinking I don't like injuries, but all of our goals, from the athlete to the coach to the parent to the practitioner, should be to create healthy athletes at all costs. And I promise, investing into your health is less expensive than treating injuries...