With fall and cooler weather moving in many people are getting outside and exercising or returning to organized sports. From a physical therapy standpoint, this brings up two very important considerations: what can be done to prevent sports-related injuries and how can we maximize sports performance? Of course, one important way injury prevention and sports performance should be addressed is with proper preparation concerning training and conditioning in 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 throughout the human body not only prevent injury, but to maximize sport performance.
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 to restore normal connective tissue mobility, joint range, and neuromuscular control. Movement is reassessed post-treatment to confirm improvement and direct further treatment. Specific exercises may then be prescribed 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 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Stecco, L., & Stecco, C. (2012). Fascial Manipulation. Practical Part. Piccin.
A .pdf version of this article is available as part of our fall 2015 newsletter and can be accessed here: Final-Fall-2015-Newsletter