by David Merson, PT, DPT, ATC
With sports medicine, it is often more effective to treat alignment deficiencies as well as localized areas of injury. The human body requires optimal flexibility, optimal strength, and symmetry to function in the most efficient manner. It is apparent that patients develop tendonitis, muscle sprain, or muscle spasm injuries due to their own body mechanics and alignment abnormalities. I take a biomechanical approach with many of my patients.
My treatment approach often includes the following items:
- Postural Assessment: For example, do your shoulders curve forward? Is your neck in a straight line with the rest of your body?
- Functional Activity Assessment: Walking, running, and/or just getting on and off the treatment table.
- Leg Length Difference Assessment: Are your leg lengths equal? Does your body present with changes that would have caused a leg length discrepancy?
All of these assessment are performed in addition to finding areas of tenderness, measuring flexibility, checking range of motion, testing strength, etc.
By taking more of a global treatment approach in addition to the localized region of complaints, we will be able to treat the cause of the injury –therefore, stopping the cause right in its’ track. We will also be able to address the secondary factors – the body’s way of creating compensatory patterns.
Patients may ask, will it take a long time to perform this type of comprehensive assessment? The answer is, NO. Often by assessing your walk to the treatment table, observing how you sit in a chair, and performing 2-3 assessment techniques while on the table I can begin to understand the biomechanical influences.
Patients will be given postural cues and feedback to address the biomechanical influences. However, other times a more strategic approach will need to be created.
Functional, alignment, and postural assessment strategies are key elements in the creation of a comprehensive sports medicine treatment plan. Treat the cause – not just the effect.
Dr. Merson is a Physical Therapist at Boston Sports Medicine