Keeping Fear out of the Game; Using Fat Tissue to Treat Joint Problems; IASTM for Treatment of Strains, Sprains & Pains

Episode 17.13 with Hosts Steve Kashul and Dr. Brian Cole. Broadcasting on ESPN Chicago 1000 WMVP-AM Radio, Saturdays from 8:30 to 9:00 AM/c.new host image


Segment One (01:34): Tara Hackney from Athletico Physical Therapy talks about strategies to support Psycho-social Influences during rehab. One of the consequences of injury can include fear of re-injury when the athlete returns to play. Fear can potentially be a limiting factor in rehabilitation and recovery. However, there are ways to address these psychological concerns during recovery to help athletes return to play with more confidence. Related post: Don’t Let Fear Keep You Out of the Game


Segment Two (12:34): Dr. Cole discusses new technology using patients own fat to help treat joint problems. Body fat now can help treat bone joint conditions, including injuries and osteoarthritis — the type of arthritis caused by wear and tear in tissue between joints, which affects 27 million people. A new device gently suctions, processes and uses a patient’s own fat tissue to provide a potential source of stem cells and growth factors to promote healing. Related post: Patients’ Own Fat Tissue Can Help Treat Joint Problems


Segment Three (20:50): Craig Bano, MPT, CHT from ATI Physical Therapy talks about  Instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization. IASTM has proven to be very effective in both enhancing mobility and alleviating injury, enabling pain-free participation in activities as quickly as possible. IASTM is proven to treat joint and ligament sprains, muscle and tendon strains, neck and back injuries, and tendinitis.

Research has demonstrated the ability of IASTM to:

  • Reduce pain thresholds
  • Decrease muscle guarding
  • Increase ROM
  • Increase muscle function (as well as inhibit hypertonicity)
  • Improve ligament healing
  • Decrease scarring
  • Decrease tendinitis symptoms

Related Post: A therapeutic technique to help rid you of strains, sprains and pains

Is It Healthier to Play More Than One Sport?

By Tara Hackney for Athletico Physical Therapy

Is It Healthier to Play More Than One Sport?

There is an estimated 30-45 million school aged kids playing organized sports each year.  Lately, there has also been a trend of young athletes training for sports at earlier ages and specializing in one sport with a goal of elite status. But is it healthier to play more than one sport?


What is Sport Specialization?

Sport specialization is defined as year-round training (greater than 8 months per year) for a single main sport, and/or quitting all other sports to focus on that sport. Sports specialization definitions exclude athletes who perform a high volume of intense training in a single sport throughout the year but still compete in other sports simultaneously, as well as athletes who train intensely in a single sport during parts of the year with variable year-round involvement. Although sports specialization is trending, there may be more benefits in playing multiple sports.

The Benefits of Playing Multiple Sports

Data shows that early sport diversification is more likely to lead to valuable physical, cognitive and psycho social skills for the young athlete. In fact, participation in multiple sports in developing years (ages 0-12) may lead to transfer of skills between sports. What’s more, multi-sport participation tends to result in better long term performance and an increase in lifetime enjoyment of physical activity and recreational sports participation. There is also some data indicating unorganized free play may potentially have a protective effect from serious overuse injuries.

It is important to note that the focus should be placed on strength and neuromuscular fitness for development of the entire athlete for competence, confidence, connection and character. The International Olympic Committee suggests waiting until at least puberty before committing to sports specialization. There is limited evidence to suggest that specialization before the age of 12 is necessary for adult elite performance. Furthermore, early diversification does not appear to hinder elite level participation in sports later in life.

Risks of Early Sports Specialization:

  • Burnout
    • Lack of enjoyment
    • High stress or anxiety
    • Mood disturbances
    • Decreased motivation
  • Isolation from peers
  • Lack of development of neuromuscular skills for injury prevention
  • Lack of necessary rest from repetitive use of same body part
  • Increased risk of overuse injury
  • Reduced motor skill development
  • Lost opportunity for fun

Recommendations to avoid burnout and injury:

  • Avoid over-scheduling and excessive time commitment
  • Use a valid and reliable tool to monitor signs of burnout
  • Emphasize skill development and fun
  • Provide opportunity for free, unstructured play
  • Emphasize lifelong physical activity skills
  • Avoid specialization until at least puberty
  • Limit specialized training to less than 16 hours per week or do not exceed hours per week greater than the athlete’s age
  • Good communication between coaches and parents

Staying Healthy and Active

There are many health benefits to playing sports for people of all ages. Regardless of specializing in one sport or playing many sports, it is important that athletes enjoy the time that they spend playing sports. Should an injury occur during sport, click the link below to schedule a complimentary injury screening at your nearest Athletico location.

Schedule a Complimentary Injury Screen

Don’t Let Fear Keep You Out of the Game

By Tara Hackney for Athletico Physical Therapy

Don’t Let Fear Keep You Out of the Game

Injuries in sports are common and can occur at any age and at any time – including practice or competition. One of the consequences of injury can include fear of re-injury when the athlete returns to play. Fear can potentially be a limiting factor in rehabilitation and recovery. However, there are ways to address these psychological concerns during recovery to help athletes return to play with more confidence.


Physical and Psychological Recovery

Rehabilitation programs traditionally have three distinct phases: acute injury phase, repair phase and remodeling phase. These phases are based on the three stages of the healing process and have proven to be effective in assisting injured athletes to return to their sport.1 That said, these phases do not necessarily incorporate the psychosocial aspects involved with injury and recovery.

Examples of the types of psychosocial challenges injured athletes may face include frustration and depression due to their sudden lack of sport involvement. As they move further into the stages of rehabilitation, some athletes may experience apathy, and poor adherence (too much activity or too little activity) indicating lack of motivation or impatience to return to sport. More examples of psychosocial issues injured athletes may face include decreased self-esteem, anger and fear of re-injury.

Can Fear Be Measured?

Despite the overall emotional responses of athletes improving during post-operative care, studies have noted that “fear” is the most prominent emotion at the time that athletes are returning to activity.4  Subjective questionnaires are the current standard to measure cognitive and emotional responses to an injury. These self-report questionnaires can measure symptoms, disability, pain and emotion. Unfortunately, these surveys have limitations as they are reported by the athlete and “fear” or “lack of confidence” can be interpreted with negative connotations. Furthermore, psychological states following injury may differ from one individual to another. However, objective testing for psychological readiness for return to play is not backed by current evidence at this time.

Who Can Help Athletes with Fear?

An integrated model shows the importance of a team approach to rehabilitation of injured athletes. A coordinated effort between the athlete, doctor, parents, coaches, physical therapist and athletic trainer can assist in a successful and confident return to play. Sport psychologists can also assist in persistent fear for athletes. A sport psychologist is trained to assist the athlete with psychological preparation for competition and the mental and emotional demands of the sport. They can assist in a variety of psychological skills including building confidence, improved focus, coping with anxiety and dealing with pressure.5 Goal setting, imagery, positive self-talk, and relaxation strategies have been found useful in helping athletes cope with pain, stress and anxiety. These strategies also help to address self-efficacy, self-esteem and confidence-related apprehensions, as well as concerns with rehabilitation motivation and adherence.

Strategies to Support Psychosocial Influences during Rehabilitation

  • Keep the athlete involved with their team during injury rehab
  • Create short-term goals
  • Use a variety of exercises for rehabilitation to prevent boredom and improve motivation
  • Allow the athlete to have input in their rehabilitation
  • Use an integrated approach
  • Good communication between the athlete, coach, parents, doctor, physical therapist, athletic trainer and possibly a sports psychologist

Returning to Play

Injury can occur when playing sports. However with appropriate rehabilitation, both physical and emotional recovery is possible to get athletes back on the field with confidence.

Should an injury occur during sport, click the link below to schedule a complimentary injury screening at your nearest Athletico location.

Schedule a Complimentary Injury Screen

Mental Preparation for Competition

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While race day or game day itself is often exciting, unpredictable and public, the training that prepares us for the big day can be anything but. The grueling, tedious and monotonous nature of preparation, typically done away from public view, can make sticking with a training program difficult. In this article, we consider the mental challenges of adherence and tips to get through training as well as the big race or game.

What hinders lots of athletes, whether recreational or highly competitive as they prepare for competition is the repetitiveness of training. Running the same routes and performing the same drills every day, after a while, can strip us of our motivation to continue. While repetition is key to mastery of a skill, new trails, new routes, or new routines can be the ticket when the excitement of training begins to dwindle. An older man approaching the 50th wedding anniversary with his wife recently shared to me his secret to marital success: “Keep her guessing. Keep her on her toes.

One day, return home from work with a rose, or a nice shirt, or a piece of jewelry or a loving embrace. Never fall into a long-term routine. The possibility of surprise fortifies the relationship and keeps it lasting.” The human body and mind both respond favorably to variation; life requires some change to keep someone alert, fresh and interested. Surprising your muscles and your mind with change prevents you from simply going through the motions and brings more mindfulness to the movements of the training. Examples include:

– running stairs instead of hills
– playing pick-up basketball instead of your regular agility training
– working on less familiar or less practiced parts of your game
– testing out kettlebells rather than the usual dumbbells at the gym

Mixing it up can be in response to a lull in motivation (“I’m getting bored, it’s time for a change”) or as a way to eliminate the possibility of the lull setting in. Find what works for you.

We tend to forget that there is a way to enhance training for competition without having to physically move our bodies. When a scene is imagined vividly and accurately, our brains essentially get tricked into believing we’re doing it for real, since physical and mental rehearsal alike activate very similar parts of the brain. Not only is it helpful to create pictures of success in our mind (i.e., watching ourselves kicking the game-winning field goal, or crossing the finish line in record time), but it’s just as important to picture overcoming the obstacles that may get in the way of success. Examples include:

– imagining how you will adjust your race strategy to torrential rain on the big day
– seeing yourself letting go of a poor golf hole and sticking with your normal routines on the next hole, rather than rushing and making impulsive decisions as you may usually do
– picturing playing intense and focused defense after missing a clutch free throw on offense

Remember, you never want to arrive anywhere on the course or field where you haven’t already been for at least a few moments in your mind.