Sports Performance and Injury Prevention

Physical therapy is a branch of medicine that has the potential to significantly improve sports performance and prevent sports related injuries. At Appalachian Physical Therapy we work to prevent injuries and maximize sports performance in many different ways. One important way we encourage patients to avoid injuries and improve their performance is with proper preparation concerning training and conditioning in the off-season. More specifically, athletes should avoid dramatic increases in physical activity especially when they have not maintained adequate physical fitness during the off season. However, many times, proper training and conditioning alone are not enough. It is also vital to identify and correct any dysfunctional movement patterns throughout the human body not only prevent injury, but to maximize sport performance.

Squat Exercise

Eliminating faulty and destructive movement patterns begins with identifying them.1,2 Fundamental to this is a thorough, comprehensive examination from a total body perspective that reflects appreciation of how one region of the body relates to and influences another. Functional movements through each body segment (hip, knee, low back, etc.) are assessed and compared to the opposite side of the body as well as an established norm. Palpation is also utilized to identify faulty soft tissues contributing to movement problems.1-3 Once dysfunctional areas are identified, the segment is treated with manual techniques and specifically prescribed exercises to restore normal connective tissue mobility, joint range of motion, and neuromuscular control. Movement is reassessed post-treatment to confirm improvement and direct further treatment. Exercises are then prescribed as part of a home exercise program to further re-educate the entire neuro / musculo / skeletal system in normal movement.

These same principles apply to sports performance. For athletes to perform at their highest level, movement and force production must be optimized. If proper movement cannot be achieved at a body segment, a muscle may contract in an uncoordinated manner and improperly transmit force through the corresponding joint.1 Additionally, inappropriate muscles may sometimes be recruited to perform certain movements. As with injury rehabilitation and prevention, a comprehensive movement examination is vital to identify deficits throughout the body. Manual techniques as well as specifically prescribed exercises have the ability to immediately correct dysfunctional movement and restore strength/range of motion in affected body segments.

These principles of injury rehabilitation, prevention, and sports performance are important considerations for athletes of all ages and levels. Dysfunctional movement strategies develop in both recreational and professional athletes alike although they are not always apparent. The patients we see in physical therapy have become aware of their dysfunctional movement as their pain or associated symptoms has reached a level that has prompted them to seek physical therapy. However, a lack of identifiable symptoms does not necessarily mean absence of dysfunction. It is important to identify and correct these problems before they result in pain or injury or negatively impact your athletic performance.

References:

  1. Pedrelli, Alessandro, Carla Stecco, and Julie Ann Day. “Treating patellar tendinopathy with Fascial Manipulation.” Journal of bodywork and movement therapies 13.1 (2009): 73-80.
  2. Day, J. A., Stecco, C., & Stecco, A. (2009). Application of Fascial Manipulation© technique in chronic shoulder pain—Anatomical basis and clinical implications. Journal of bodywork and movement therapies, 13(2), 128-135.
  3. Stecco, L., & Stecco, C. (2012). Fascial Manipulation. Practical Part. Piccin.

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