Every two years, the winter or summer Olympics come along and reenergize a new crop of weekend athletes. While Olympians know the importance of key training strategies such as rest, nutrition and active recovery, weekend warriors tend to plunge right in.
After decades of running and hurdling, Lolo Jones decided to give the bobsled a try at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Even at her elite level of fitness, she understood the importance of cross-training to prepare her body for an entirely different sport.
As a runner, she needed to be long and lean and have great endurance, but her role as pusher on her bobsled team would require her to gain body mass and strength. Her training plan included increasing her explosive power to enable her to sprint while pushing the sled and learning to run on an incline –not what Jones was accustomed to on the track.
Unfortunately, your patients are not likely to develop a thorough training strategy when they adopt a new winter sport, and may face the common injuries that occur in skiing and skating.
The most common injuries seen at the Sochi Olympics – and ones you may see among your patients who have been inspired by the Olympic athletes include:
ACL tears. This was the most common Sochi injury this year. No surprise, given the twisting and impact that is common in winter sports. After surgery, patients will need six or more months of rehabilitation.
Meniscal tears. These may or may not require surgery, as a tear may heal on its own depending on where it is located. Patients with this type of injury normally require 4-6 months of therapy.
Fractures. After casting is completed, therapists can help a patient regain strength and mobility in the structures surrounding the fracture. Recovery time will vary depending on the severity and location of the fracture.
In each of these cases, a targeted physical therapy plan is an important part of recovery. Usually, by the time a patient comes to see you, they have already been injured. However, In a perfect world, patients would consult with their physical therapist or athletic trainer to create a cross-training plan that would prevent injuries, as well. The next time you find yourself treating an injured weekend warrior, remind them that Olympians have trained for months and years to make these sports look easy.
Are you an experienced physical therapist looking for your next opportunity? PT Solutions can help you find therapy opportunities in Michigan and nationwide in a variety of facilities. Contact us for travel, contact and permanent therapy jobs.