The Risk of ACL Injuries in Baseball

By Mike Headtke for Athletico Physical Therapy

acl injuries in baseball

Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries are typically associated with sports like soccer or football, however these injuries can occur in any sport – including baseball.

In fact, hitting a baseball is one of the most “violent” total body movements in athletics due to multiple body parts moving in synchronization at high angular velocities. As a result, the knee still can become injured. To show the significant amount of torque the body sustains during hitting, it is a good idea to review what happens to the body during this movement.

The Anatomy of a Baseball Hitter

It is important for baseball players to maintain strong legs and core to prevent injury. While there are various stances that a hitter can take, there are some basics that all stances have in common. There is a weight shift from the back leg to the front leg (where power starts). As the upper body starts to rotate, the core is engaged for the hips to begin rotating in unison with the upper body. As contact is made there is significant force generated through the entire body placing significant torque on the knee joint, with the lead leg also going into extension and back leg flexing.

To put this into perspective, the fastest swing (exit velocity) to be recorded is over 123 MPH. That is all generated by the body with a majority of the energy coming from the legs and core. With that much force going through the legs (and with torque, extension and flexion happening at the knee), we can now see how a meniscus or collateral ligament could become damaged. If the perfect storm were to happen (i.e. rotating about a fixed leg and hyperextending with foot not moving to help slow forces down) an ACL injury could also occur.

An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure

To prevent potential injuries, it is very important for baseball players to maintain a healthy and strong core, glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps and lower legs. Since hitting is considered a closed chain activity (feet fixed to the floor), it’s good to perform other strengthening activities in closed chain too.

For example, performing squatting or lunging variations can be great to kick on multiple muscle groups in a functional manner. With that said, it is still important to work open chain as well (feet not fixed to the floor) to establish good hip control and strength because these muscles are the big drivers for the swing.

Athletes can also minimize the risk of ACL injury with Athletico’s ACL 3P Program, where prevention begins with a screening to identify potential injury risk factors that can be corrected. For more information, please email ACL@Athletico.com.

Tips for Preventing Common Skiing Injuries

By Tara Hackney, PT, DPT, OCS, KTTP for Athletico Physical Therapy

tips for preventing common ski injuries

Skiing is a popular outdoor winter activity that we tend to hear a lot about during the Winter Olympic Games. With the Winter Olympics occurring in PyeongChang this year, it is expected that the skiing will be making headlines in the coming weeks – from discussing amazing performances to unpredictable injuries.

Although skiing is a sport where lower body injuries are more common, upper body injuries can occur as well. Read below to learn about five common injuries that downhill skiers should be aware of, as well as tips to prevent these injuries from occurring.

ACL Tears

Most anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears occur from a non-contact knee injury, meaning the tear occurs when the knee is in poor positioning, not by the knee being hit or fallen on. In skiing, ACL tears can occur due to landing a jump in poor form with the weight too far back or when a skier tries to prevent a fall. Skiers who are falling should try to let the fall happen as safely as possible rather than trying to fight it to stand up. Trying to prevent a fall could result in twisting the torso in relation to the lower half, which may lead to knee twisting. This is when the ACL can tear.

MCL Injury

The medial collateral ligament (MCL) is on the inside of the knee. It is often injured or torn when the skier falls after trying to slow or stop by using the ski tips pointed toward one another in the snowplow position. MCL injuries are more common in beginner and intermediate skiers. Tips to decrease risk of MCL injury include making sure weight is balanced when in the snowplow position and staying on runs that are a comfortable challenge but not too advanced for the skier’s skillset.

AC Sprain

An acromioclavicular (AC) joint sprain is an injury to the ligament that holds the AC joint together at the top of the shoulder. Injury to this area is usually caused by a fall onto an outstretched arm. Skiers can decrease the risk of this type of injury by pulling arms toward the body should a fall occur, rather than trying to catch themselves on an outstretched arm.

Clavicle Fracture

Another injury that can occur when falling on the shoulder or outstretched hand is a fractured clavicle. The clavicle is the bone that is commonly called the “collar bone.” The best way to decrease the risk of a clavicle fracture is to decrease the risk of falling by sticking to runs that align with the skier’s skillset.

Thumb Sprain – a.k.a. “Skier’s Thumb”

Skier’s thumb occurs when a skier falls with a pole in hand. This can cause the thumb to overextend and sprains the ligament on the inside portion of the thumb. There are thumb stabilizers available to skiers that need them, otherwise the best way to prevent this injury is to avoid putting hands through the ski pole loops unless absolutely necessary.

Safety First

These are just a few of the injuries that can occur in downhill skiers. Although data shows that women are at a slightly higher risk of knee injuries and men are at a higher risk for shoulder injuries, it is important for all skiers to put safety first – especially inexperienced or novice skiers.

It is also important to note that there may be a higher incidence of head injuries associated with ski jumping or snowboarding where aerial tricks are being performed. To decrease the risk of head injury, helmets should be worn by all skiers and snowboarders. Should muscle soreness or pain occur after hitting the slopes, make sure to visit the nearest Athletico location for a complimentary injury screen.

Schedule a Complimentary Injury Screen

Unlocking Your Potential through Movement: An Exploration of Dance/Movement Therapy

By Erica Hornthal, LCPC, BC-DMT

As a society we have long known the healing benefits of dance. Dance can improve cognition and memory, it can reduce stress, and it can help us get in shape. However, not many people know the emotional and psychological impact movement has on mental health.  Dance applied as an intervention within the therapeutic relationship unlocks individual potential; the potential to increase productivity, maximize performance, manage chronic pain or injury, and connect to passion and purpose.  

What is dance/movement therapy?

According to the American Dance Therapy Association, founded in 1966, “dance/movement therapy is the psychotherapeutic use of movement to promote emotional, social, cognitive and physical integration of the individual.” It is a creative arts therapy that uses movement as the means to observe, assess, and intervene in an individual’s overall health.  Movement is the most primitive instinctual form of communication and expression. It allows for a deeper level of understanding, validation and support.  Not only is no dance experience or coordination needed to reap the benefits, but also, unlike psychotropic medications, there are no negative side effects.  

What is the different between dance and dance/movement therapy?

Dance is a performance art form usually consisting of stylized or choreographed sequences of movement. It is about expression, aesthetics, and often physicality and skill. Dance/movement therapy is first and foremost a niche form of psychotherapy, facilitated by a master’s level clinician that merely uses, movement, a component of dance, to heal and integrate the mind, body, and spirit of an individual. In dance/movement therapy, the “dance” comes from the individual as an organic expression of the self.

What are the benefits of dance/movement therapy?

Dance/movement therapy can benefit people of all ages, abilities, and life circumstances because it supports the individual on a body level where they are in that specific moment in time. Dance therapy has a broad range of health benefits. It has been demonstrated to be clinically effective at improving body image, self-esteem, attentiveness, and communication skills. It can also reduce stress, fears and anxieties, as well as lessen feelings of isolation, body tension, chronic pain, and depression. In addition it can enhance the functioning of the body’s circulatory and respiratory systems.

What does a session look like?

Dance/movement therapy sessions can look much like a talk therapy session. It is often up to the participant how large the movement is or how indulgent it may be. It can incorporate breathing exercises, meditation, mindfulness, stretching, and yes, dance, in addition to verbal processing. It can be done individually, as a couple, or even in a group. Sessions take place in hospitals, nursing homes, day centers, schools, studios, homes, and offices around the world. It is a holistic body-based therapy that can be done standing up, sitting down, or even from a person’s bedside.

Anyone can participate in dance/movement therapy, regardless of age, physical or even cognitive ability.  If you are interested in deepening your mind-body connection, enhancing physical performance through awareness, or physically and emotionally becoming more efficient, consider dance/movement therapy as your approach to mental and physical integration, growth, and healing.  

For more information, go to the American Dance Therapy Association or contact Chicago Dance Therapy.

If These Walls could Talk-Chicago Bears; The Return of Zach LaVine; Understanding Probiotics

Episode 17.31 Rerun


Segment One (01:27):  Former Chicago Bear Otis Wilson talks with Steve and Dr. Cole about how the game has changed from 1985 and about his new book, If These Walls Could Talk: Chicago Bears: Stories from the Chicago Bears Sideline, Locker Room, and Press Box. Led by stars like Walter Payton, Jim McMahon, Mike Singletary, William “Refrigerator” Perry, head coach Mike Ditka, and defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan, the Chicago Bears in the 1980s were an NFL powerhouse.

As anyone who’s seen “The Super Bowl Shuffle” surely knows, they were also an unforgettable group of characters. Otis Wilson, the Bears starting outside linebacker, was right in the center of the action, and in this book, Wilson provides a closer look at the great moments and personalities that made this era legendary. Readers will meet the players, coaches, and management and share in their moments of triumph and defeat. Be a fly on the wall as Wilson recounts stories from those days in Chicago, including the 1985 Super Bowl-winning season. If These Walls Could Talk: Chicago Bears will make fans a part of the team’s storied history.


Segment Two (12:58): Dr. Cole and Steve discuss the return of Zach LaVine and the rehab process after ACL reconstruction. Fred Hoiberg confirmed that the Bulls will be bringing Zach LaVine (knee) along slowly once he’s cleared for contact.Zach LaVine #8 of the Chicago Bulls poses for a portrait during the 2017-18 NBA Media Day on September 25, 2017 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois.

“We’ll still take things slow,’’ Hoiberg said. “We won’t throw him out for an hour scrimmage the first day he gets cleared for contact. It will be a gradual process. But he’s doing great, doing everything he’s supposed to do.’’
LaVine is on track to be cleared for contact within the next few weeks, but the Bulls will be taking an extremely cautious approach with his return, so it could be a while until he’s fully up to speed working without restrictions.

Segment Three (19:41): Karen Malkin from Karen Malkin Health Counseling decribes probiotics, why and when they should be used.

Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for your health, especially your digestive system. We usually think of bacteria as something that causes diseases. But your body is full of bacteria, both good and bad. Probiotics are often called “good” or “helpful” bacteria because they help keep your gut healthy.

Image result for probiotics

Good bacteria are naturally found in your body. You can find probiotics in some foods and supplements.

It’s only been since about the mid-1990s that people have wanted to know more about probiotics and their health benefits. Doctors often suggest them to help with digestive problems. And because of their newfound fame, you can find them in everything from yogurt to chocolate.

Youth Football Concussion Prevention Program Shows Early Signs of Success

By Brian Rog for ATI Physical Therapy

Youth Football Concussion Prevention Program Shows Early Signs of Success

As the play clock winds down, your team takes formation and the center snaps the ball. That unmistakable sound of helmets colliding fills the airwaves. You charge downfield for a pass, then suddenly, your forward progress comes to a screeching halt. You sense an unnerving ringing in your head and a burst of light fills your line of sight. Reality begins to slip away. Minutes later, you awake to find yourself lying motionless on the ground. That once thunderous sound of cheers from the stands has lessened to silence. It’s that moment you sense something isn’t right.

You finally make it to the sidelines trying to make sense of the situation – but to no avail. Regrettably, your team isn’t staffed with an on-site trainer, so the coaching unit, to the best of their abilities, diagnose your condition as just a minor upper body injury. As the days pass, you struggle to concentrate. At times, vertigo has you questioning gravity’s effectiveness. It’s then that you realize these symptoms imply a concussion – though no mention was made of it. You decide to go see a specialist, and just as expected, you suffered a moderate concussion. Fortunately, through modern science and advancements in treatment techniques, providers such as ATI, are equipped with the treatment protocols to safely get individuals back to the demands and activities associated with their lifestyle.

The commonality of situations like this among youth football players is hitting staggering levels, and with participation rates dropping fast, organizations across the country are scrambling to find a solution.

A program tabbed Heads Up Football, which was adopted a few years ago by USA Football is quickly becoming a beacon of hope for players and coaches.

Heads Up Football is a program built on improving training and tackling techniques for coaches and trainers. The program also educates players on concussion awareness and key safety issues. Heads Up training is now used by more than 7,000 youth and high school football programs across the United States, according to USA Football.

To further understand the program’s impact on brain trauma prevention, a team of researchers, led by ATI’s very own clinical research scientist, Ellen Shanley, PhD, PT, OCS, spent months collaborating with USA Football. The group developed a multi-level analysis that would better identify the variances in concussion instances and recovery times. The study measured standard training methods (used by 60% of organizations – according to research) against the Heads Up Training program.

In advance of the 2015 high school football season, USA Football mounted the program by administering Heads Up training to 14 schools (1,818 players) and standard training methods to the remaining 10 schools (696 players). A total of 2,514 students were tracked throughout the season.

To ensure full compliance and proper usage of the training methods/techniques, USA Football officials conducted three random evaluations over the course of the season. Adding to compliance standards, athletic trainers at each participating school were tasked with monitoring and recording injury data from practices and games. For players sustaining concussions, treatment was administered within the same healthcare provider network – to maintain consistency within the data.

Throughout the study, a total of 117 concussions were documented by medical personnel. Of these injuries, players who trained using the Heads Up program sustained 75 concussions (out of 1,818 players) compared with 45 from the non-Heads Up teams (696 players). These injuries represent a concussion rate of 4.1 per 100 players for the Heads Up athletes compared to 6.0 for non-Heads Up athletes.

“The results of our study seem to suggest that possibly less severe concussions were occurring with the Heads Up group which could be a significant hurdle to learning about and preventing concussions in youth football and keeping kids active,” said Shanley. “With this being the first paper to evaluate the impact of this type of training program on the incidence and recovery of concussion, we hope to do additional research with a larger data pool to continue to build insights.”

Research also found that concussed players involved in the Heads Up program returned to action 27 percent faster. To view the official research abstract, click here.

Given the success of this early data set, the Heads Up Football training approach is emerging as a favorable long-term solution to reducing the rate of serious brain injuries. Ellen and team will continue their mission of gathering evidence in support of this impactful training program.

If you or someone you know has recently experienced a head injury, get it checked out right away. Stop by an ATI clinic near you or schedule a complimentary screening at ATI Physical Therapy today!