On the Field, Away from the Doc

by Keith Cronin, PT

No one likes being injured. Every fitness professional, strength trainer, and coach is intimately aware of this fact. Hurt clients are not showing up for training and injured athletes are “riding the pine.” Your job most likely revolves around a lot of “P” words:

  • Supporting the possibility of winning the big game.
  • Progress towards achieving a clients desired weight goal.
  • The potential of making someone healthier or more athletic.
  • Being a part of an individual’s perseverance to be happy in all their fitness or sporting endeavors.

And then someone gets hurt. Oh no, now everyone is unhappy…except perhaps me. My job does not revolve around the fun “P” words, they are more concentrated on two concepts: problems and pain. As a physical therapist, I see many unhappy individuals everyday who have been sidelined by pain and injury that prevents them from doing what they love. Understand that when someone is in my office, it is because they have to be there. When they work with a trainer or coach they want to be there.

After all the co-pays, deductibles, and hardship, my job is to get a patient back to you. Occupation aside, I enjoy watching people get back to the lives and activities they love. I played collegiate baseball and was a human injury magnet. I know the pain, the psychological distress, and the negative impact injury has on the daily flow of life. I do not want that for me, I do not want that for my family, and I do not want that for my patients. So how do you keep someone on the field, in the gym, or out on the road running?

Here’s the status quo. So much of medicine is about telling you what you are doing wrong.

  • “Exercise more.”
  • “You eat too much.”
  • “Your posture is terrible.”
  • “Get more sleep.”
  • “Stop stressing out.”

And too often, so is the tone of the medical field towards that of strength trainers and coaches.

  • “Why would you have a 70-year-old woman with osteoarthritis lift dumbbells overhead three days a week? That’s why she is hurt.”
  • “Why do you put your kids in 10 tournaments over the summer? That’s why we are seeing so many overuse injuries.”
  • “Why don’t you all work on squats as part of strength and conditioning with the team?” Athletes show up to therapy and can’t do a proper squat. That’s why they are hurt.”

This type of message is crap. This helps no one. Barking about what everyone is doing wrong or judging the end result just falls on deaf ears. Pointing fingers for what has gone wrong only makes people feel bad and internally they will shut down. The reality is that people like myself—whether they are physical therapists, athletic trainers, chiropractors, primary care physicians, or orthopedic surgeons—are paid to treat problems. We talk a big game about prevention but outside of talks or talking to patients after the fact, we are not on the front lines making change. You all are! We sit in offices and wait for the inevitable train wrecks to show up while you all interface with athletes and exercisers of all ages, sizes, and shapes.

Whether you are a personal trainer, fitness professional, team coach, specialty sports instructor, strength and conditioning specialist, or athletic trainer, reducing the number and severity of injuries in sports and fitness is paramount. It is important to your clients, to your team, and to your business. Its time you know what I know about the unfriendly side of pain and problems.

Over the course of the next few months, I am going to provide essential information on how to “stay on the field and away from the doctor.” TO BE VERY CLEAR…I am NOT going to be providing information about how to diagnose and treat injuries. Above is a picture of the books I have read through, studied, and been licensed in on the topic of treatment of musculoskeletal injuries. These are just the ones in the office!

What I will do is provide you information to support your profession. If you are interested in topics such as:

  • Common traits of injury susceptible athletes
  • Reducing knee joint compression to reduce patellofemoral risk
  • Importance of long term athletic development
  • Warning signs of a developing injury
  • Biomechanical breakdown of healthy joints
  • What is the best way to complete a lunge
  • Stretch or not to stretch?
  • Neurodynamic warm-ups
  • Five easy ways to prepare any athlete for play
  • Stamina vs. strength…which is more important?
  • Importance of a balanced body
  • Controlled use of plyometrics for reduce risk of injury

This blog is for you. Have questions? Email them in and perhaps I can make an article out of it.

I honestly believe for people to be happy, healthy, and getting the most fulfillment out of anything they do requires strong communication between the worlds of medicine and coaching or fitness professionals.

Let’s start talking.

Keith J. Cronin, DPT, OCS, CSCS

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