What technologies are the most effective in sports rehabilitation and performance? This is the question that was posed to me at the Florida Chiropractic Association convention in Kissimmee over the weekend. There were many different technologies and techniques out there on the trade floor show, so it can become quite overwhelming to any of us in what we need to put in our practice. I was at the tradeshow demonstrating vibration therapy, and since it’s one of the fastest growing modalities out there in the Chiropractic field, it was natural to get these type of questions. Before we jump on board with the latest and greatest, the answer doesn’t lie in the product, but in a simple principle that has been used in sports performance. If we go through the principle first, we can then look at products on the market and see what will fit us the best:

Everything works, and nothing works all the time

Alwyn Cosgrove, a prominent personal trainer, made a good point with this. The principle is simple. If we subject our body to the same stimuli all the time, our body will get used to it and further improvements are minimized. You can see that with some of the gym rats. They will tell you they have been working out for a year and haven’t seen any gains in strength or muscle tone. The problem is they stick to one weight training program and the body eventually plateaus. If you provide different intensities, frequencies and weights to their program, the body experiences something new. This keeps it guessing and gains are continued. For a sports rehabilitation practice, this means that you must be active in progressing someone from simple exercises to something more complex. Not only that, but keep the body guessing by throwing in different tools. If you are using a rocker board for balance and proprioception, progress to a rocker board, or simply progress to functional lunges. Simply put, don’t subject your patients to the same type of exercise all the time. That’s why having as many different tools in your arsenal will lead to better outcomes.

Another chiropractor asked me about vibration training and whether it’s superior to other modalities out there. If we look at the above principal, it’s not the vibration device that makes your program superior to others. It’s HOW you use it. Placing someone on it at the right stage of injury, rehabilitation or performance enhancement is crucial. You have to also align the right exercises with the right goals. You won’t get explosive strength with an athlete if all they do are calf raises on it! That athlete will need to add additional weight and also do plyometric training off it. If an athlete is undergoing rehabilitation following an Achilles strain, gentle static calf raises may be the most effective thing to do.

So when you decide to purchase a piece of equipment that promises unbelievable results for your patients, first ask yourself who you are going to be using it for. Also ask questions regarding the product on how it can be used in different stages of injury. There shouldn’t be a cookbook approach to using it, but basic principles you can follow when developing your own unique programs.