Athletes are more likely to shred an ACL or destroy an ankle than the rest of the population. Constantly pushing their bodies to the extreme, sooner or later, they’re bound to injure themselves.
Although athletes may get injured, they’re often hardwired to recover and train harder, even while in physical therapy.
While being out of the game may be a severe blow to athletes, that often spurs them to do the work to get back in it.
“They are way more motivated and are usually willing to do whatever it takes to recover and get in better shape than before,” says Alter G client Kevin Rausch, PT, MPT, and President of Rausch Physical Therapy & Sports Performance in Laguna Niguel, CA.
For elite athletes, Kevin shares 4 things to know to maximize their physical therapy.
1. They Don’t Get Frustrated Easily
Physical therapy can be excruciating and slow, which frustrates many clients. Athletes, however, are more accustomed to pushing their bodies, so they may also be more patient when they can’t.
“Most elite athletes probably have been hurt before, or have seen other athletes or colleagues go through similar types of injuries,” explains Kevin.
“They kind of get it,” he says. “They know it’s part of the game and part of the training process. They’re pushing their bodies at such a super high level at almost every practice sequence. So, if you’re pushing yourself that hard, injuries are bound to happen.”
This means you can expect more compliance from an elite athlete.
As anxious as they may be to get back on their feet, they’re hyperaware of what happens when you rush through treatment. Overdoing it leads to re-injury—and back to square one, where they don’t want to be.
2. They Like It When You Shake Up Rehab
Elite athletes’ insatiable drive to get better makes them ideal candidates for outside-the-box forms of physical therapy.
“The elite athletes are more willing to integrate alternative forms of healing into their rehab programs,” says Kevin. “So, they’re more likely to try equipment like the AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill™, altitude training devices, or hyperbaric chambers.”
3. Don’t Pigeonhole Them
Don’t assume the term “elite athlete” only applies to clients who are professional athletes.
“I have a lot of regular people who happen to be really elite athletes,” Kevin says. “We’ve got this kind of middle ground of local moms and dads who happen to be fantastic athletes, but they also happen to have two kids and a job.”
“They perform at a really high level. They train at a really high level, and they get hurt at a really high level, too,” he adds.These kinds of clients present unique challenges to physical therapists, since they have the same superhero-like physical capabilities as professional athletes—without the luxury of that lifestyle.
“They’re an amazing, yet challenging group to treat because they have to work and maintain their family, but they also love triathlons or cycling,” explains Kevin.
With these clients, you’ll have to consider their day-to-day life alongside their therapy.
4. Focus On Prevention
One of the most valuable things physical therapists can do for athletes is stop injuries in the first place. One of the main reasons people get injured while exercising is poor form.
You can offer services tailored to training athletes to correct their form—before their form turns on them and becomes an injury.
Athletes depend on being able to get up and running, and they’re often more willing to experiment to do it. Contact a rep to learn how the AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill offers innovative and effective physical therapy solutions to getting elite athletes moving faster, without risk of injury.