Athletic Therapy and Sports Injury Rehabilitation

... Don’t let past or current injuries keep you in pain and underperforming.

 


Do you suffer from an acute injury or chronic condition that is keeping you from participating in your favourite sport or activity?

Whether you’re a golfer, tennis player, cyclist, runner, skier, or athlete of any sort, you’ve probably suffered some form of sports injury in the course of your play. Elbow tendinitis, shoulder impingements, and knee problems are unfortunately quite common to active people. If not properly treated, a chronic condition can flare up again periodically. These flare ups can cause you to compromise the way you move by altering your movement patterns or developing muscle imbalances without being aware of it. All of sudden, the sport you used to be good at, has now become a source of aggravation for your chronic injury. This is not exactly the day you planned when you dusted off that tennis racket, golf clubs or running shoes, is it?

Now, you might be asking yourself, “I know you’re a therapist, but do you actually know what its like to be injured yourself”?   Unfortunately, I can answer that question with a resounding yes!!  I’ve been there myself. I’ve sported some of my own injuries at times that affected my running, tennis game and weightlifting as well. And I totally get it that you want your body to perform as it once did. There’s nothing like clipping off an effortless 5 miler on a Sunday afternoon or surgically zipping those forehands down the sideline on the court with minimal effort.

At Spectrum Therapy and Fitness, we assess your entire body and how your injury might have happened based on the status of your static posture, your ability/inability to move well, and/or what happened during the moment of injury. Once we understand the mechanism of injury that your body sustained, we can then understand why you body failed to resist the “not-contact” forces that were imposed into your body. For those who sustained injuries from ‘contact-forces (collisions, tackles, falls, or motor vehicle accidents, an examination of the forces that entered the body along with their impact is taken into consideration during your treatments and rehabilitation.

If you’re a team athlete, we conduct a comprehensive biomechanical assessment within the context of your sport that will provide key insights to help design a functional treatment and rehabilitation plan.

Effective Rehabilitation to Get You Back in the Game

image013At Spectrum Therapy & Fitness, we consider everyone an athlete regardless of your activity or lifestyle. We take a client/athlete-centered  approach to rehabilitating your injury with the intent of restoring your full functional capacity to your sport or activity.

Here are a few benefits that we offer our patients: *

  • Understand the cause and nature of your injury so as to not repeat that same moment again.
  • Deal with inflammation, swelling, bruising, muscle atrophy, muscle weakness, and all other secondary complications.
  • Re-caliberate your posture so your alignment and force absorption and resilience are optimal to increase your performance and prevent further injury.
  • Restore range of motion, flexibility, joint mobility, and muscle recruitment patterns based on a well-aligned posture.
  • Restore movement patterns.
  • Restore stabilizer function to optimize joint function and decrease potential for injury.
  • Model optimal movement qualities for your sport
  • Feel psychologically confident and strong to re-engage back to your sport or activity.
  • Customize a warm-up and movement exercise plan for you to use in your injury prevention regime.
  • I practice potential “return to play” strategies by using preventative taping techniques to facilitate your ability to enter back to your game.

These are just some of the benefits that our athletes have enjoyed. Participating in your sport or activity at a higher level of performance and awareness is our main objective.  Sports therapists keep you in your game as much as possible while you are preparing or rehabilitating yourself to full performance. Our functional rehabilitation protocols are second to none when it comes to returning you back to your sport or activity.

Endurance Athletes and Functional Training

There are a few myths out there about the training and conditioning for endurance runners, cyclists, and swimmers that I would like to dispel.

Myth #1:  Endurance sports are not improved through strength training.

The logic supporting this viewpoint is the misguided belief that any additional muscle created by traditional resistance training will hinder the performance of the runner, cyclist or swimmer. This argument is the same thing as saying that a slightly heavier engine with greater horsepower slows down a car.

To counter the irrational fear of gaining weight in response to weight training, first, I have observed many times that the additional strength and power output that accompanies a few hard-earned pounds of muscle, far outweigh the stress of carrying extra pounds throughout any endurance event. Many of my clients have experience with tweaking their weight training to focus on the “neural’ effects as opposed to muscle mass gains.This small adjustment completely eliminates the fear of acquiring any additional muscle mass.

Myth #2: Strength training equals bodybuilding.

This myth is further encouraged by the endorsement for bodybuilding methods that is found in books authored by some of today’s endurance gurus.  These books, authored by some of the most respected endurance coaches and athletes, clearly promotes the traditional 3 sets of 10 to 15 reps of isolation exercises such as knee extensions, leg curls, dumbbell shoulder raises, chest flyes, and calf raises.  These endurance gurus clearly advocate bodybuilding methods, while the rest of the endurance field fears bodybuilding and its possible results.

It seems that endurance athletes and coaches have a conundrum on their hands?  Who should you believe, and what is the right thing to do?  If an endurance athlete uses coordinated movements, all emanating from the core, does it make sense to train similar movements? In other words, if endurance events consist of multijoint, functional movements, why train for them with single-joint, bodybuilding-type movements? 

This is the essence of the most important principle in training: specificity.  The bodybuilding model usually requires the athlete to work with machines while seated or in a supine position. This just isn’t realistic!!   This type of training is characterized by  single-plane and stabilized open-chain exercises (exercises in which the foot is not attached to the earth)  Training this way doesn’t make sense for sports that require the athlete to function from the standing position (i.e running).  Although any type of strength training, including bodybuilding, can benefit just about anyone who is untrained, there is little doubt that functional training yields superior results.

 

 

 

 

The single-leg reach (right) is one of our favourite exercises to improve human locomotion.

The double leg stability bridge (right) trains the hamstring much more practically for extension rather than just flexion for the knee.

 

 

 

 

What does training functionally mean? Functional training is concerned with improving movement function, and not the aesthetics of isolated muscles. The movements used in functional training look like the movements being targeted for improvement (running), however, this general rule does have exceptions.  So when we train functionally, the athlete performs exercises that look like the target activity or exercises that work the associated muscle systems or chains in a manner consistent with the demands of the target activity.                                                                                           

Myth # 3: Bilateral training is optimal for unilateral sports.

Myth #3 is an extension of Myth #2.  Most traditional strength training takes place on two legs. If we look at the endurance sports such as cycling or running, we clearly see that they both use only one leg at a time. This observation is especially relevant when selecting a training approach to running events.  In these events, if you fail to stabilize the single-leg plant you will “leak” your propulsive force.  Your stride length will suffer.  Simply think of every joint as having the ability to leak power if it is not stable.  This may not come as a surprise, but having stable hips will allow you to increase your stride length as well as produce more power per pedal stroke.

 

Myth #4: You can’t train the lactate threshold in the gym.

Few endurance athletes or coaches deny the importance of training their lactate threshold (LT),  the higher the LT is pushed, the more work can be done at the same relative intensity. A lot of endurance athletes that I’ve met and spoke with believe that sprint work is the best way to improve LT and therefore dismiss LT training through functional training protocols.  They believe this because very few of them have been exposed to the cutting-edge protocols that I use, and was developed at TRI-IHP by Juan Carlos Santana.

Sprint work (i.e. on the track, on the bike, or in the pool is not the only and perhaps not event the best way to train LT.  I practice and coach systemic as well as movement-specific protocols that are superior to any sprint program involving swimming, running or cycling.  Why do I make such a claim?  First, LT can be elevated with short protocols, it’\s not necessary to work at or above LT for hours and hours.  The short metabolic protocols camn put you at or beyond LT within a few seconds and hold you there for a few minutes.

Second, the short metabolic protocols can demand more work on a specific muscle system than any endurance activity can demand.  Third, many of our metabolic protocols are extremely intense, effective and short.  I’ve seen a lot of overtraining  out there in certain athletic training programs due to suboptimal work (i.e junk work) our metabolic protocols can save the endurance athlete time!

Myth # 5: Endurance performance is all about  VO2 Max

Even though one’s VO2 Max is a vital component of any endurance program, it isn’t the major player everyone claims it to be.  Most times, the winners of major endurance events are often not the athletes with the highest VO2 Max.  If that were the case, we could just measure VO2 max and award first place to the athlete with the highest measurement.  

According to Neal Henderson, Exercise Physiologist of the Sport Sciences at the Boulder Centre for Sports Medicine in Colorado, VO2 max is approximately  80% genetic.  Therefore, the trainability of this overemphasized performance component is relatively limited.  So, does this mean that you can never beat competitors who have a higher VO2max?    Of course not!!

There are other vital, and in my opinion much more important factors affecting endurance performance. Lactate threshold, pain tolerance, neuroendocrine mechanisms and neuromuscular efficiency are just a few factors to consider.  So, while I’m not trying to discount the importance of VO2max, I am simply trying to point out that endurance performance is not solely based on VO2max and that other components of performance deserve equal consideration when you’re planning your training program.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

We also have an excellent articles in our Blog on
Endurance Sports Injuries

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The best thing that has happened to me in the past two years is my introduction to Jean LaFleur. I was advised by an orthopedic surgeon to strengthen my knees to avoid early joint replacement. Being physically active, I decided to approach a personal trainer and was introduced to Jean LaFleur. I was also pleasantly surprised to learn that Jean is also a Certified Athletic Therapist as well as a Strength and Conditioning Coach. I had feeling that I was in good hands. He conducted a personal assessment of my general health status, including a review of my diet, and more specifically my needs as they related to my need to stay active.

Jean put together a comprehensive program specifically for me. I have been continually impressed by his application of knowledge, innovation and creativity that has kept me on track. At all times I have been treated as an individual and unique client. The result of his coaching and my training has been a significant improvement in my skiing. I ski in Jackson Hole, Wyoming and have hesitated to challenge some of the more aggressive slopes. No more! Comments about my improved skiing have been received from some of the better skiers on the mountain.

I have also improved my golf game. Through specific training, Jean has put me through, I have increased my yardage and thus improved my handicap.

The best benefit of Jean’s training guidance and coaching has been that I no longer take NSAIDS (non-steroidal-anti-inflammatory drugs). I virtually have no pain in my knees.

I can highly recommend Jean to anyone who is looking for an individual approach to training with a commitment to improved performance based on a solid knowledge base and personal experience.

Linda Burrows RN, BESc, MScHA.

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