Whether you’re a weekend warrior or a collegiate or
professional athlete, preventing and treating sports
injuries is vital to maintaining optimal physical
performance. Sports medicine, which has been a specialty
for 60-plus years, specializes in just that.
“It’s a great profession to be in,” says
Brandon Yoder, director of sports medicine at Marquette
University. “It’s an opportunity to stay close to
athletics [and] to be a part of that team atmosphere —
whether your playing days are done or not — and then to
collaborate with players [and] coaches. On the other
medical side, [working with] physicians and health care
professionals throughout and being right in the trenches
of it throughout [the process] is what makes the
profession really incredible.”
Sports medicine, which works hand in hand
with athletic training, encompasses every stage of
injury prevention and treatment, including proper
conditioning techniques, examination, diagnosis,
treatment, rehabilitation, emergent care and managing
acute chronic injuries and medical conditions.
“It encompasses the before, the during
and the after,” Yoder notes.
Common injuries include sprains, strains,
fractures and dislocations, as well as persistent
injuries. “We’ll see acute, traumatic things that occur
in practices or games, regardless of the sport,” Yoder
explains. “Somebody lands wrong, twists an ankle or knee
really bad — or it could even be more severe than that
in an emergent situation. We also see a lot of chronic
Sports injuries can occur from a series
of situations, including inadequate training, improper
use of protective devices, or insufficient stretching or
warm up exercises. Even with proper training and
stretching, injuries still occur, and with new therapy
procedures sports medicine can help treat a vast array
of injuries in innovative ways.
“It’s a unique time just because, similar
to the power of social media, the internet allows
[access to] a lot of information not just to student
athletes, but to a lot of health care professionals [as
well],” Yoder says.
Common trending treatments include
trigger point therapies, laser therapy and blood flow
According to the National Association of
Myofascial Trigger Point Therapists (NAMTPT), trigger
points are caused when muscles become stressed or
injured, which results in knots that cause pain or
tightness and can trigger pain in other areas — a shift
called referred pain.
To treat trigger points, according to
NAMTPT, therapists apply pressure with a finger or
instrument to build up pressure that eventually releases
the trigger point. Another common method in trigger
point therapy is to use a vapo-coolant spray to
“distract” the muscle with the sensation of cold,
allowing it to perform a more complete stretch, thereby
releasing the trigger point.
Blood flow restriction therapy asks
patients to perform specific exercises with a narrow
band around the arm or leg — the areas most commonly
treated with this method — which reduces blood flow and
allows the use of muscles without placing excessive
weight on the limb. It also gives patients the benefits
of heavy weight lifting without stressing the tissues
Another newer therapy taking over sports
medicine is laser therapy, a form of rehabilitation that
increases the production of the energy-providing
chemical adenosine triphosphate (ATP) in the cells,
which accelerates the natural healing process.
“What laser therapy entails is providing
an optimal healing environment at the cellular level,”
Yoder says. “We’ve had athletes that have responded very
well to laser therapy, and we’re very fortunate to have
that here at Marquette.”
According to PowerMedic Lasers, laser
therapy can heal conditions such as tendonitis, tennis
elbow and jumper’s knee in three to four weeks, and
sprains and torn ligaments in six to eight weeks.
Though athletic injuries are relatively
inevitable, Yoder says prevention can be as easy as
proper warm up and cool down, rest, knowing your body’s
limitations and the common and popular RICE method
(rest, ice, compression and elevation).
the core of it, we want to keep everybody safe, and we
want to keep people healthy,” Yoder says.