If Your Ankles Are Weak, Then Strengthen Your….Hips?

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A few years ago Steph Curry was having problems with his ankles. Now the All-Star NBA MVP is having an amazing season having missed only 1 game. The secret? A training and injury prevention program that focuses on his….hips. That’s right, his hips.

A great ESPN article came out today to highlight the success Steph has had with this training program. Even though the problem lies all the way down the chain at his ankles, the hip plays a major role in controlling position of the lower body joints. If there is weakness up higher in the chain, the lower joints end up taking more stress. By working on stability at the core, Steph and his trainers have given him a much more stable foundation to move, change direction, accelerate, decelerate, and juke other players out of their shoes.

This is another reason why a good physical therapist, athletic trainer, or doctor doesn’t just focus on the injured area. Remember, the injury is where the athlete broke down, but the cause could be elsewhere. We see that all the time at our clinic. Someone that has plantar fasciitis, ankle sprains, knee tendinitis could have the root of their problem at the hips. So just massaging the injured area, applying ultrasound or ice, and exercising the painful body part will only produce temporary results.

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For truly successful outcomes, you need to treat the whole person. Look at Steph. He was good before and treating his ankles allowed him to play and be an All-Star. Treat the whole person, and he’s the NBA MVP and on the verge of an NBA Championship.

Don’t Chase Pain

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If your physical therapist only looks at and treats the area where you have pain…..FIND YOURSELF A NEW PHYSICAL THERAPIST!

A good clinician doesn’t just treat a body part, they treat the WHOLE PERSON. That doesn’t just go for Physical Therapists. That includes Doctors, Chiropractors, and Massage Therapists. Just about anybody who works on your body.

About a month ago, I had a professional athlete come in for an evaluation. The athlete had been having low back pain and had been diagnosed with Left Sacroiliac (SI) issues. The symptoms had been going on for 8-9 months and they were going to chiropractic and even tried flying to LA for an injection to the SI joint. The injection resolved things temporarily, but they were still not able to participate in their sport of choice. They had to know soon if they could perform, because there was a competition coming up.

At the evaluation, we did a thorough screening and I noticed that the Right SI joint might actually be the problem. We did some manual therapy to release the right side and the pain reduced significantly. In fact, the athlete told me that they were able to perform movements after that one visit, they previously could not. ONE VISIT. But the the pain was still present.

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One week later at a follow-up visit, we looked at the SI joint again both sides seemed to be moving better. We did a little more manual therapy to target problem areas and they left without any low back or SI symptoms. TWO VISITS and NO LOW BACK PAIN. They were still sore to the back when returning to activities, but the SI symptoms were much less significant now. The athlete eventually was able to compete with their team and achieve their athletic goals.

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After suffering 8-9 months, the athlete was now able to get back to doing what they love. After only TWO VISITS! The point of this is to help you realize that where the body is hurting or in pain, is not necessarily the source of the problem. It’s just the weakest link in the chain. It’s your body’s way of telling you that a problem may be lying somewhere else. If you address the real problem, then the pain can be reduced and eventually eliminated. If you only deal with the pain, it will likely come back because the problem area is still around.

So the moral of this post is: Don’t Chase Pain. And if you have a clinician that does that, then you should run. Run to one that doesn’t.

Golden State Warriors: Truly Strength In Numbers

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It continues to be an amazing year for the Golden State Warriors. And when I watch them this year, nothing gives me greater joy than seeing Shaun Livingston on the court.

Many of you may not remember, but Shaun suffered a career threatening knee injury back in 2007 when playing for the LA Clippers. He dislocated his patella and pretty much tore every ligament in his knee. The Clippers decided to let him go as an unrestricted free agent after the 2007-2008 season. After being cleared by doctors to resume basketball activities in 2008, Livingston has continued his comeback with multiple teams. He’s even had to make a trip to the NBA D-League trying to secure a contract. After a successful stint with the Brooklyn Nets last year, the Golden State Warriors signed Livingston to a three-year contract this past summer.

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His comeback seemed to come full circle for me with his amazing performance last night in Game 1 f the Western Conference Finals. Coming off the bench to spark a tremendous 2nd quarter comeback, the Warriors were able to hold off the Houston Rockets and take this 1st Game in the Best-of-Seven series. As a sports medicine professional, every time he makes a play, it gives me goose bumps, knowing how hard Shaun worked to get to where he is today after that knee injury.

One of the key reasons for Shaun’s amazing return is the wonderful medical staff he is surrounded by. Signing with the Warriors reunited Shaun with Head Athletic Trainer JoHan Wang. Entering is 2nd full year as Head Athletic Trainer for Golden State, Wang spent the previous 8 years of his NBA career with the LA Clippers. That included helping Livingston recover from his knee injury from the 2007-2008 season. So you could probably say no one in the NBA knows Shaun Livingston’s medical history better than JoHan. And having JoHan there, must give Shaun a sense of relief and confidence that allows him to perform at such as high level.

To me this signifies how important a good athletic trainer/sports medicine professional is to any athlete. It gives them someone that can track their performance, monitor them to prevent injuries, and evaluate their practice/training programs for potential problems. If Livingston’s performance isn’t enough proof that a top-notch medical team is important, since Wang has been with the Warriors both Curry and Bogut have been able to stay healthier and play longer.

Thanks to Wang and his team, Livingston is able to be a major factor in the Warriors deep run this post-season and we get to fully appreciate the talent that is Steph Curry. With the amazing medical staff to take care of its players and the support of the best fans in the NBA, I can see how the Warriors can say that there truly is “Strength In Numbers.”