High-intensity sports like soccer, running, baseball, and American football render the body vulnerable to injuries of the bones, muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Physical therapy for sports injuries seeks to alleviate the pain and other symptoms of injuries while restoring full health and gradually returning the patient to the playing field.
Orthopedic physical therapy is the treatment and rehabilitation of injuries to the body’s musculoskeletal system, including its muscles, joints, bones, tendons, and ligaments. An orthopedic therapist will use techniques like exercise, spine mobilization, and muscle training to relieve pain and increase strength and stability.
Sports physical therapy is a method of treating people who are actively involved in sports and who have consequently experienced some form of pain or injury. The goal of physical therapy for sports is to rehabilitate patients to the point where they can safely return to sports. Unlike specialists in other fields who focus on tackling the symptoms of painful conditions, sports physical therapists go straight to the roots of the injury and remedy not just the problem but its cause.
Because it’s primarily concerned with treating the origins of injuries, sports physical therapy can effectively prevent a recurrence of symptoms. Some common treatments used in sports physical therapy include gait and running analysis and anti-gravity treadmills.
Gait analysis is a method of using high-speed video cameras to create a digital model of an individual’s motion. These models assist specialists in finding potential aberrations in the way a patient moves and walks. Gait or running analysis can root out and expose problems like over-striding, inadequate hip extension, improper running technique, poor balance, or asymmetrical weight-bearing. It’s an indispensable treatment for runners who are suffering from foot, ankle, leg, and lower back pain. Because motion problems typically impair more than one joint at a time, gait analysis allows a sports physical therapist to observe the relationship between upright motion and the kinetic chain, measuring the severity of disability and movement deviations that may not be apparent during a conventional clinical examination.
Running analysis allows therapists and their patients to identify mistakes in running and training, along with biomechanical faults. It also assists in the prevention of future injuries by displaying proper and improper methods of running, and the negative effects of the latter on a patient’s body, allowing them to alter and improve their running technique.
How does gait analysis work? Physical therapists use a specialized treadmill to enable visualization of foot mechanics. As the patient moves, force plates located in the treadmill gather kinetic data, recording the ground reaction force of each strike and calculate the magnitude of the forces during different phases of the gait cycle. A nearby computer work station analyzes the data, assisting in the production of a report that includes video clips of the patient’s gait cycles.
The Alter-G anti-gravity treadmill is used mainly for professional athletic training, allowing runners to run farther, faster, than they could on standard exercise equipment. Though designed by NASA to train astronauts, the anti-gravity technology has been adapted as a back-to-sports physical therapy to treat sports injuries and rehabilitate suffering athletes. In addition to sports rehabilitation and prevention, Alter-G is used in rehabilitation of orthopedic function, spinal injury, and back pain.
Similar to a treadmill, Alter-G is surrounded by an airtight skirt into which air pressure is injected. This air pressure is then calibrated to counter the weight of the runner, creating an effect not unlike moving through low gravity. However, throughout the process the user is able to move, walk, and run as he or she would normally. Anti-gravity is tremendously helpful in lowering body weight, building muscle tone, and getting patients mobile. It achieves all these things by shifting the weight of the body off of injured knees, joints, and hips, thereby reducing the impact of pressure on the body and allowing them to exercise for longer periods. Moreover, by making exercise easier, the anti-gravity treadmill helps to strengthen the cardiovascular system and burn fat without stressing weakened or injured areas.
Sports medicine is a branch of medicine that treats injuries related to sports and exercise. Sports medicine doctors treat injuries to the musculoskeletal system, which includes the joints, muscles, and bones.
The practice of sports medicine has largely developed in clinics as physicians treat patients. For a long time, sports medicine treatment was based primarily on the hands-on observations and experiences of clinicians. Recently there has been a push within the discipline for empirical evidence that supports clinical practice. Writers and doctors are calling for an increase in research and studies that undergird the plans and preventive strategies that sports medicine specialists employ in treating patients.
What makes the study of sports medicine so fascinating is that, because it basically encompasses every part of the body that can be injured during sports or other forms of strenuous activity, there is a vast range of topics to engage the attentive student or doctor. And because sports medicine is a growing field, researchers are continually making discoveries that readjust how we see the human body. The role of ice in soft-tissue management, the recurrence of concussions, the efficacy of stretching in preventing injuries, the management of lower back pain in athletes, and the most optimum treatments for ligament injury and patellar tendinopathy are just a few of the questions that fall under the broad category of “physical therapy in sports medicine.”
Always tailoring our approach according to the needs of the patient, our physicians have developed a special program of sports physical therapy at the New York DNR. Our sports physical therapy and rehab specialists used the most advanced technology possible to administer care that addresses the problem at its source. Basing our approach on both clinical evaluation of movement function and the fusion of manual medicine into rehabilitation medicine, we are able to treat patients with a variety of sports overuse and trauma conditions.
To this end we employ DNS (dynamic neuromuscular stabilization), a breakthrough scientific method, a manual rehabilitative approach based on the principles of developmental kinesiology. DNS is designed to stimulate the brain’s movement control centers, in order stabilize the body by training it in the postures of a child during first year of life. This, in turn, helps restore the alignment of the body’s neuromuscular system. This method of sports rehab and physical therapy uses the plasticity of the brain to establish new motor connections, ultimately creating spinal stability by joint centration which in turn leads smooth effortless movement without overload. Pressure applied to the body during DNS sports performance physical therapy stimulates a reaction that reduces muscle imbalances and relieves muscle hypertonicity, making spinal stability first possible and then effortless.
Dynamic neuromuscular stabilization is used in combination with technologies such as Computer Assisted Rehabilitation Environment (CAREN), force-plate biofeedback training, and extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT). CAREN is a multi-sensory virtual reality system that rehabilitates the body’s locomotion, posture, balance, and spinal stability. Biofeedback motor control training addresses biomechnanics of movement and effectively treats injuries sustained in high-intensity physical activities. ESWT produces high-frequency sound waves that stimulates body’s metabolism and increases blood circulation, triggering the body’s self-repair mechanisms to regenerate overused tissue.