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Balance between sport performance training and injury prevention

Baseline testing and assessment attempts to understand injury mechanisms and performance that are often considered links to sport and fitness. The ability to recognize and identify movement asymmetries and compromises to neuromuscular control is highly important in reducing injury in the future. Dependent on your professional and educational level, there are tests at every level that you may perform to aid the clinician and trainer achieve this recognition and identification on their client or athlete. It is suggested that a model exists in each profession to have a test-retest paradigm that will periodically inform the clinician or trainer of current or future performance status and needs for improvement.


Physical therapy world

In the physical therapy world, I was taught and trained on how to evaluate, assess, diagnose, intervene, and document unique plans of care for injury or conditions related to the body’s systems. This involved countless hours of understanding the evidence supporting the use of specific examination procedures and special tests for each physical therapy diagnosis, intervention strategy, and return to sport or function. This provided me the context and understanding of many sport and fitness-related injuries. It was clear and evident that risk factors exist that predispose athletes or clients to injury during training and sport competition.

strength and conditioning world

During my earlier career as a strength and conditioning specialist and personal trainer, most of my baseline testing and assessment was to objectively measure key performance indicators such as strength, power, speed, vertical jump, etc. It was very rare that I was performing a baseline test that measured the quality of movement objectively. It was until I came across the Functional Movement Screen that exposed me to the assessment of movement rather than the outcome of the movement. I didn’t quite understand the importance of measuring the quality of motion until I started measuring it in my physical therapy practice. The FMS may not be the only assessment of movement out there but I would highly suggest researching and finding one that you can use to begin assessing quality of movement along with key performance indicators. With an extensive background and expertise in performance testing, I utilize multiple tests to allow a comprehensive outlook on areas of performance strength and weakness. The results of my testing will then provide my template for exercise prescription and the periodized training to follow.


integration of profession

Currently, as a Sport Clinical Specialist in physical therapy, I have the great opportunity to move through the professional spectrum of personal trainer, strength and conditioning specialist, exercise physiologist, and clinician. I realized the necessity to bridge the gap between these professions and continue to build a balance between sport performance and injury prevention for the betterment of the athlete or client.

Injury prevention requires a look into the risk factors that lead to injury and the conditions themselves. On the spectrum of athletic development or fitness training, the pendulum often swings too far towards maximizing key performance indicators such as max strength, power, speed, acceleration, change of direction, etc while injury prevention components lack. The pendulum must swing with a balanced focus on prescribing testing and exercise to maximize key performance indicators and optimize injury prevention. Injury prevention requires prescription for neuromuscular control, muscle strength/length balance, and progressive, sport-specific skill acquisition. It is highly important to understand sport or fitness injuries to fully appreciate the magnitude of integrating injury prevention components into your training or practice. Take some time to comprehend the mechanisms of sport related injuries to navigate your testing and exercise prescription.


what to do now?

If you need more information on sport-specific testing or movement-based assessments, please feel free to reach out. The purpose of this article to discuss the importance of surrounding the athlete or client with the comprehensive care or training they deserve. This involves critical thinking and selection of baseline testing or assessments that focus on all components of athletic development. Utilize multiple agencies of research such NSCA, ACSM, and schools/universities to aid in choosing the appropriate baseline-testing or assessment for your needs. Hope you found this article helpful, sign up for more blog post announcements.

Reyes Performance Institute offers a wide range of sports physical therapy and performance enhancement services specifically tailored for athletes of all ages and abilities.

If you are looking for a board-certified sports specialist, you can trust RPI to provide the best quality of care for your sports injuries and needs.

Dr. Carlos Reyes



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