By ANDREA CROSBY
Athletics and injuries go hand in hand; if you’re into sports, you’re bound to have an injury at some point. That’s where the team of on-campus athletic therapists comes to the rescue.
The lead and assistant athletic therapists are there on hand before, during and after practice and games, to wrap, ice, treat, and rehabilitate injuries such as sprains, and sore joints among other issues.
Seadon Pereira, on-campus lead athletic therapist, said he enjoys working with the athletes to help them get back to being game ready.
“I like working with people like that, who are more motivated and they’re determined. Athletes, I find, are the most determined because they want to get back in [to the game] as quickly as possible.”
Despite having the opportunity to work with some astounding athletes, they must deal with the athletes’ stubborn and, in some cases, serious injuries.
The rapists deal with the immediate care of an injury, the management and long care treatment and rehab of an injury.
“Whether it’s something major, minor, fracture, sprain, strain, dislocations, head injuries, you name it, immediate care comes first,” said Pereira.
“Then it’s the treatment and management of the injury. That’s the rehabilitation protocols using the physiology and the actual process of healing using the sports medicine model to get people back in action ASAP, which also includes pre-practice prep, and pre-game prep that includes things like taping, bracing, pre-game stretch, active stretching, or assisted stretching.”
With a five-year combined kinesiology and athletic therapy certification, Pereira has an extensive knowledge in sports medicine and athletic therapy. The athletic therapists are the best kind of first responders with a background in sports.
“For example, a tendon would respond well to eccentric exercises, which is basically the lowering or going down motion of a squat,” said Pereira. “They found studies that show that, that helps deal with tendonitis. So, for tendons, you deal with targeting the eccentric re-training. … You retrain it the way the muscle functions.”
By use of “active rehab” Pereira and Amy Olar, assistant athletic therapist, are able to accurately assess the injury and make sport-specific treatments so the athletes can get back in play as quickly as possible.
With a knee injury, for example, Pereira recommends strengthening the muscles around the injured area “whenever it’s safe to do so.”
“Any sort of knee injury, you want to work on strengthening your quads, strengthening your hamstrings, … your hip as well, so your gluteus, your adductor muscles [inside of your thighs],” said Pereira.
Basic movements such as squats, knee extensions, and gluteus bridges, are used to start athletes with strengthening and conditioning those areas so they don’t lose the muscle they have.
But it’s the “transitioning back from the exercises to being back on the court or the field”, Pereira said, in his opinion, is the hardest part.
“And that’s where functional retraining is important; so, not just targeting the knee, but targeting the entire body in addition to that knee; mimicking some of the things that they’ll do in their sport, breaking down what skills they need, and adding skills on as necessary to make it as useful as possible.”
Amy Olar, on-campus assistant athletic therapist, works mostly with the women’s Knights soccer team, and is on call during their practices and games in case attention to injury is required.
“If it’s an immediate injury it’s more just about the care,” said Olar.
“As they’re recovering and healing, you have to give them that time to get out of an acute phase of an injury, then you would go back into strengthening. … With soccer players it’s usually all legs, low back and ankles.”
Olar recommends doing sport specific exercises such as kicking a ball, pass and run, just passing or just running, as long as the players aren’t making full contact with other players, as that can lead to further injury.
Before practices and games the team has a routine of warm-up stretches and exercises to prevent the onset of injury and essentially warm up the muscles.
Mandated by FIFA, they do a specific FIFA warm-up, geared towards strengthening and warming up the hamstrings, quads, ankles, and entire body. Through exercises like running, bounding, cutting, and regular stretching, the FIFA warm-up can help the women’s soccer team strengthen their muscles to prevent injury.
Olar also warns people should be cautious about the kinds of workouts and exercises they are doing.
“A lot of people can get injuries from their workouts. So … you really have to think about why you’re doing it, and what motions are being done because if you’re rehabbing wrong, it’s not going to benefit you,” said Olar.
“And a lot of people just don’t understand that, ‘Okay I did a squat,’ but if you don’t do the squat properly it’s not helping you any. And if you’re cheating, … say if you’re bending forward too much, or if your knees are going over your toes, that’s technically not helping the muscles; it’s cheating and it’s making you worse.”