Athletes get injured — no matter the sport. Baseball players have a high risk for rotator cuff injuries. Football players often have back pain. Runners have runner’s knee. Basketball players suffer from jumper’s knee.
Fortunately, there are several types of instruments that may be useful in treating these common athletic injuries. Soft tissue injuries are common across all sports. Tendons and ligaments are prone to wear and tear and overuse.
Unfortunately, once an athlete sustains such an injury, he or she is prone to re-injury. Researchers have determined that may be due to the fact that ligaments, in particular, heal through the formation of scar tissue, which leaves the athlete with mechanical deficiencies.
Soft tissue mobilization (STM) breaks up the formation of scar tissue and appears to accelerate healing.
Instrument assisted cross fiber massage (IACFM) is a technique that may help ligaments heal after injury. Soft tissue injuries are among the most common in athletes, regardless of the sport. As many as 50 percent of athletic injuries affect ligaments, and once an athlete has injured a ligament, he or she is at a higher risk for a subsequent injury. IACFM helps the tissue heal faster, and with less likelihood of future injury.
There are other reasons for DCs to provide instrument assisted care to athletes. Imagine a runner has a rotated hip, but feels pain in her knee. Adjustments to the spine, hip, knee, and ankle may be required, even if the only pain the patient reports is in the knee. Without adjustments, the runner is at risk for additional injuries and worse pain.
Instrument adjusting is fast, painless, and can help patients stay on the field, in the gym, or on the track. DCs can help athletes avoid injury by making sure they are at peak physical function.
Instrument adjustments are very specific, so they are often the best option for DCs working with athletes. Using an instrument allows the practitioner to target where to adjust and how much to adjust with a high degree of accuracy. Athletes who are in such pain they cannot imagine an adjustment or who have a major loss of range of motion may
also benefit from instrument adjustments.
The experience and skill of the DC are critical when it comes to creating the treatment plan that will be most beneficial and that will return the player to his sport the quickest. The type of injury, the patient’s level of discomfort, and the likelihood of reinjury will all play a role in how the DC chooses to treat the patient. The use of instruments is simply one more tool that practitioners can use to help athletes keep playing.
1Loghmani MT, Warden SJ. InstrumentAssisted CrossFiber Massage Accelerates Knee Ligament Healing. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy. 2009;39(7):506514