Health Blog

Are you at risk for injury?

Now that Fall sports are in full swing and the upcoming ski season is looming, how do you know where you are on the injury risk spectrum? This is an essential question that is best answered by a Physical Therapist (PT). PTs are uniquely qualified to diagnose musculoskeletal injuries and prescribe specific exercise programs that can be individualized for your particular issues and dysfunction.

Non-contact sports injuries occur among the young and old, the physically fit and unfit, as well as the professional athlete and weekend warrior. There are many risk factors that increase the likelihood of injury — some are modifiable, while others are not. The key is to identify the variables that can be changed and improving them through specific physical therapy treatment and targeted exercise.

Just because you have been jogging three times per week or backpacking all summer, does not mean you do not have any underlying issues that may pose a threat when it comes to higher impact sports such as skiing.  Quite possibly you have been working out in anticipation of the greater demand on your body, but are not sure what you should focus on, or if you’re doing the ‘correct’ exercises for your particular needs. The answers may not be obvious to you, and that’s where physical therapy can offer a ‘road map’ for getting you to where you need to be.

Injury screening is a hierarchical process that first involves a thorough PT evaluation to determine your baseline function including range of motion, strength, basic movements and any pain related to pre-existing musculoskeletal injury. Obviously any tissue damage that is diagnosed would have to be treated first before continuing to more advanced testing.

In the absence of any pathology, advanced movement-based screening is used to identify the larger functional relationships between different joint systems. One such tool is the Functional Movement Screen (FMS), which is used on many athletes including professional football players. It evaluates and ranks seven of the most common movements providing an overall score for an objective measurement of your relative risk for serious injury. Any asymmetrical or impaired movement patterns can then be specifically addressed and eventually re-tested to track progress and help with decision-making for returning to sports.

Agility testing is the final level of screening and it examines strength, power, balance, confidence motivation and sport-specific movements. This order of testing can include hopping, jumping, running, cutting, throwing, etc. and advance from bilateral to unilateral and slow to fast. It is essential to remember that high-level sport or agility performance does not necessarily exclude the presence of underlying foundational problems. In other words, you do not know unless you test it. And it is certainly safer to test your body in a controlled environment, rather than out on the slopes for the first time in December!

If you would like to know your personal risk for injury, MTI Physical Therapy can help. Just contact one of clinics to schedule an injury risk screening appointment.

Bill Hayner, PT, COMPT, OCS, FAAOMPT
Physical Therapist
MTI Physical Therapy – Bellevue