It’s irony in the flesh. While we train to become more fit and improve performance, the continual repetitive use of tissue can actually cause it to break down. Imagine an assembly line worker moving a heavy object from his left to right over and over and over again. Sooner or later, excess use of the same muscles, tendons, and ligaments will cause a problem.
“People usually come to us when there is a decrease in performance or an increase in pain,” said Dr. Matt Lytle, owner and clinical director of Precision Health Group, a sports injury management practice in Bridgeton, Mo. “The most frequent injuries we see are lower extremity and spine (core) due to their amount of use in sports. Most athletic endeavors use the lower extremity and spine,so these structures take a relatively large amount of stress and abuse.”
The soft tissue services that clinics like Precision Health Group offer are different from orthopedic doctors, who specialize in structural breakdowns of tissue and bone, and also different from physical therapists, who specialize in rehabilitation after major injuries and are usually only available via referral from another health care provider.
Sports injury management practices focus on functional breakdowns and misalignments, working to evaluate and restore efficiency. Lytle cites one particular case in which a cyclist didn’t feel that each of his legs was functioning at the same capacity. The Precision Health Group team discovered a performance gap of about 60 percent in the right versus the left side and worked to resolve it.
“This athlete trained a lot and had a history of a few crashes,” said Lytle, who is a chiropractor by training. “We performed movement assessments and a functional exam to find the tissues that limited his performance. We treated the involved tissues, and he is now has a very minimal to no discrepancy.”
Lytle’s team of doctors and staff use a variety of hands-on techniques during treatment — manual therapy, instrument work, manipulations — which release areas of congestion, tightness, and scarring of involved muscles, ligaments, and tendons.
There is work involved in order to get better. Multiple sessions are the norm, sometimes lasting several months or even years, and the patient often leaves the office with “homework” in the form of focused stretches and exercises.
“We can either fix it, or it’s a pathology, meaning something is broken or torn,” said Lytle. “When a patient comes in, we assess to see what is causing the problem or limitation. Where and what the tissue damage is determines if our treatment will be successful.”
Most sports injury practices, including Precision Health Group, will strive to help the patient reach a successful conclusion to his or her case through its large referral network, even if surgery becomes the only option.
While it’s impossible to prevent the impact of training on the body, knowing when and where to seek help is useful in minimizing any down time. Sports injury management could be the missing key for those looking to overcome and prevent injury—and get back to what they really want to be doing sooner.
Author: Julie Bergfeld is the owner to Metro Power Yoga.