Training Injury Free Pt.II
An Interview with Dr. Patrick O'Brien

SSM Hi Pat.

Dr. O'Brien Hello once again.

SSM In the first installment of Training Injury Free we covered some basic injury prevention/maintenance protocols that athletes can readily use to fix and avoid injuries. Now I'd like to focus on some more specific details that would apply to a particular genre of athletes.

Dr. O'Brien Okay, let's get down to business.

SSM Let's start with football. What are some of the more common injuries you've dealt with in working with professional football players?

Dr. O'Brien Since football is an intense, full contact sport a variety of injuries can occur. Some of the most common injuries I have treated include hip flexor strains, rotator cuff injuries, ankle sprains, wrist tendonitis and hamstring injuries.

SSM Hamstring injuries seem to constantly plague these athletes. It almost seems to be the equivalent of rotator cuff injuries amongst bodybuilders. What specifically are some of the more common hamstring injuries and what steps could be taken to avoid these from occurring?

Dr. O'Brien Hamstring injuries commonly occur when the muscle is unable to respond appropriately to a sudden ballistic full body movement. There are many ways to avoid hamstring injuries. Proper hydration and balanced nutrient levels in the tissues are key to preventing a hamstring injury. Developing strength/quad ratios as close as possible to 1:1 is also a great benefit to any athlete. Many athletes injure themselves simply by having knee flexors and/or hip extensors (hamstrings) that can't keep up with the knee extensors (quads). Removing adhesions from the muscle following training and competition with sight specific, hands-on treatment coupled with chiropractic adjustments for biomechanical balance is critical to preventing injuries. Adequate warm up including stretching before and after each training session and competition is also important.

SSM I've also talked to a number of athletes who have experienced plantar fascitis. What is this and how can it be treated?

Dr. O'Brien Plantar fascitis is a very painful condition, which affects the arch of the foot. Specifically, plantar fascitis is when the ligamentous arch becomes inflamed and contracts severely causing intense pain. Similar to hamstring injuries, proper hydration and balanced nutrient levels in the tissues are the key to preventing plantar fascitis. My treatment protocol also involves removing adhesions from the involved areas with a sight specific, hands-on treatment, a biomechanical adjustment to the foot and ankle and properly prescribed stretches.

SSM What about impingement syndrome?

Dr. O'Brien Impingement syndrome occurs when the head of the humerus glides superior in the shoulder joint pinching certain structures and causing pain. In order to resolve this injury, the rotator cuff muscles must be assessed for scar tissue and muscular imbalance and then treated appropriately by manually removing muscle adhesions. The spine should also be assessed for any restrictions or misaligned vertebrae, which can result from compensatory muscle tension. With this treatment, recovery from impingement syndrome can help an athlete heal 50% faster than any other form of treatment.

SSM Is an athlete pretty much out of luck when this happens or are there steps that can be taken to speed the recovery process?

Dr. O'Brien With the treatment I just described, recovery from impingement syndrome can help an athlete heal 50% faster than any other form of treatment.

SSM What about Vitiligo? I hear this is a common injury amongst pop stars these days.

Dr. O'Brien Uhhhhhhh...

SSM Yeah, uhhh, so anyway... Are bulging/ herniated intervertebral discs a common injury amongst athletes?

Dr. O'Brien Yes, disc injuries commonly result from poor biomechanics while involved in a high-risk sport. Athletes should see a Doctor of Chiropractic for all disc injuries, since they are experts in treating spinal disorders. Doctors of Chiropractic can also rule out further serious injuries that could require surgery.

SSM What is this and where does one begin with treatment for this type of injury?

Dr. O'Brien A herniated disc occurs when the intervertebral disc (shock absorber of the spine) herniates or breaks out of its normal contained environment. Think of compressing a jelly sandwich until it runs out of the bread. This type of injury can compress spinal nerves causing severe low back and leg pain. If you suspect a disc injury see a Doctor of Chiropractic immediately.

SSM Which sports do you see this occur most often?

Dr. O'Brien I see the most disc injuries in hockey players, weight lifters and runners.

SSM I realize hip flexor strains are quite common in professional sports. You talked a bit about psoas/hip flexor imbalances in Training Injury Free Part One. Any advice to our athletes for avoiding hip flexor problems?

Dr. O'Brien Since the hip flexors are attached to the lumbar spine they have a crucial influence on low back function. As a result, spinal alignment needs to be checked along with hip flexor tightness. After correcting the specific biomechanical aberrations, synergistic muscle groups should be balanced. The best way to avoid hip flexor problems is by getting your body worked on from time to time.

SSM What other critical athletic injuries have we overlooked in this interview?

Dr. O'Brien IT Band Syndrome commonly seen in runners and cyclists.

SSM For the readers that may have missed Part One of this interview, could you explain a little bit about ART (Active Release Techniques) and the origin of this revolutionary form of treatment?

Dr. O'Brien Active Release Techniques (ART) is a specific hands-on treatment that addresses tissue tightness and other alterations in muscle texture and tension. The most effective non-surgical treatment for muscle and tendon injuries, ART is a powerful treatment that helps athletes heal quickly.

SSM Any new developments with Active Release Techniques?

Dr. O'Brien No, it's pretty tried and true already.

SSM What other forms of chiropractic treatment have you utilized and found to be effective?

Dr. O'Brien Acupuncture, properly prescribed nutrients and mind-body work are all effective tools I use on my athletes.

SSM Once again Pat, thanks for your time. It has been a learning experience as always. I hope not to see you soon. Uhhhh, at least not at your clinic (laughs).

Dr. O'Brien Perhaps if you took the time to stop by, you'd be be able to get your max bench over 200lbs (laughs)

SSM For the readers of Shapeshifter, that last comment was a joke, no really, it was.