Thursday, September 14, 2006

Back from the OTC

Recovering from my long drive from Colorado Springs. I had a great time at the OTC, but discovered a few things while there. Despite what you might think, the resident athletes here don't always have access to the best and most progressive information regarding rehab and conditioning. That has much to do with who the sport coaches are and how much access s/he gives them to the staff strength & conditioning folks. I saw lots of "old-school" warm-up and cool down activities. Lots of traditional ab exercises. Lots of muscle imbalances, even in American record-holders, that could be addressed and significantly improved.

The most disappointing aspect, in my opinon, is the sports medicine situation. The OTC rotates athletic trainers and other health professionals on a yearly/quarterly basis. So, taking weightlifting as an example, their current ATC will be with them for 3 months, then rotate to wrestling or speed skating. THIS STINKS FOR THE ATHLETES AND THE CLINICIAN. The athletes develop no trust or relationship with this person; and the clinician may have never worked with the sport before and have ZERO understanding of the demands of the sport or how progressive s/he can be with the rehab. I saw a great deal of frustration in an international-level lifter who is coming back from arthroscopic shoulder surgery. The ATC in charge was working her at a snail's pace and had her doing NO real conditioning while keeping the actual shoulder restrictions. The athlete was chomping at the bit to do SOMETHING--and had little respect for the ATC. It was clear the ATC knew little to nothing about weightlifting-related exercises that could be used with the lifter while she was keeping within recommended medical restrictions. I never saw the resident sport coaches speaking with the ATC to collaborate, communicate and make sure progress was on track. I'm not sure the R hand knew what the L hand was doing.

Does anyone else think the OTC--America's elite--is NOT the place to experiment with rehab or conditioning? It is fine to train clinicians there, but don't just leave the newbies alone with the athletes to stumble through. The clinician MUST know the sport inside and out; must have the chance to really relate to the athlete. For someone who is passionate about helping these men and women succeed, it seems like there should be funds to keep consistent sports medicine staff with these athletes. It shouldn't have to be survival of the fittest or dumb luck if the US truly wants to win the battle for gold medals.

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