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Why Athletes Need Performance Therapy

Dr. Jake Fisher, DC, CSCS, CF-L1

Athletes and weekend warriors typically experience musculoskeletal pain and minor injuries

due to mild trauma, overuse, or deconditioning. Trauma or accidental injuries are unpredictable and hard to control for. Overuse injuries happen when there is too much, too fast, with too little recovery. Deconditioned injuries can happen because the body is not prepared for the stress or load about to be placed on the tissues. This typically occurs after an athlete takes a long break due to off-season or holidays. The lingering or residual effects after the tissue recovers from these sport injuries can cause pain, decreases in range of motion, altered muscle function, and joint inflammation or restriction which ultimately alters the biomechanics of sport.

Performance Therapy starts with the practitioner observing the movement of the athlete. Also known as a “movement screen.” We observe movement quality based on the specificity of the sport and positions the athlete must accomplish to be most efficient. This is all accomplished with an attentive eye, video analysis, and use of iPhone goniometers. We utilize subjective feedback from the athlete on pain or tightness when initiating movement, during movement, or at end range of movement. Utilizing this subjective and objective data from the athlete we then can target the altered or aberrant biomechanics with performance therapy interventions.

Performance therapy interventions are applied prior to an athlete’s training session or

competition. The goal of performance therapy is to improve an athlete’s movement quality and motor pattern from the beginning to the end for a training or competition while also reducing risk of re-injury. This is accomplished through manual therapy, manipulative therapy, and muscle energy techniques. Everything a sports chiropractor is proficient in. Common names for these interventions are ART (Active Release Treatment), Graston Technique, PIR (Post-Isometric Relaxation), Mulligan’s Mobilizations with movement and the Chiropractic Adjustment. These interventions provide a window of increased range of motion, increased proprioception and pain modulation. After the intervention is applied the practitioner reassess the athletes pain levels and the specific movement pattern the athlete restricted in.

Using this form of athletic care can be used for a multitude of sports including but not limited to: Olympic weightlifting, CrossFit, swimming, track and field, basketball, MMA, Combat sports, and any overhead athlete. The ability of an athlete to stay resilient and robust during the course of a season or macrocycle plays an important role in determining performance outcomes. Lingering pain and aberrant motion can be detrimental to performance and increase injury risk. Applying performance therapy to an athletes training regimen can have positive performance outcomes.

Jake Fisher, DC, CSCS, CF-L1 spent 10 years as a strength and conditioning specialist before joining Washington Park Chiropractic as an associate chiropractor. He has attended the Olympic Trials three times as an athlete in Greco Roman Wrestling and is currently training for the 2021 Trials. Dr. Fisher is also a CrossFit Level 1 Coach and is currently training for his Certified Sports Chiropractic Physician credential. He has a special interest in working with athletes and creating at home rehab programs that are easy to follow and show measurable results.


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