Reducing Dysfunction in Athletes - Alliance Integrative Medicine

Reducing Dysfunction in Athletes

With Super Bowl Sunday upon us, and a lot of our focus being pulled towards the top athletes in our country, many of whom have suffered injuries, we wanted to take a moment to talk with Dr. Caylin Holmes, an AIM chiropractor who is getting her postdoctoral diplomate in Rehabilitation.

AIM: Good afternoon Dr. Caylin. Thank you for sitting with us today.

Dr. Caylin: Good afternoon, and of course!

AIM: Let’s just jump right into it – you see many patients for rehabilitation. Are most of the people you see coming in for old or new sports-related injuries?

Dr. Caylin: That’s actually hard to answer.

AIM: Why?

Dr. Caylin: Well, I think of everyone as an athlete, not just those who engage in team or individual sports. I always ask myself: What sport does this person do everyday? In other words, what repetitive activities or motions does my patient do daily in order to excel at work, home-life or play, and do they have the correct motor coordination, strength and flexibility to do it?

AIM: Oh. Can you give us an example?

Dr. Caylin: Sure. Let’s say I have someone who works on a computer all day. Even though that sounds like a physically, low-impact job, in reality, sitting all day is hard. They need to be an athlete at sitting. I ask questions like: Does this person have proper posture? Is one side of their body weaker than the other? Little misalignments or minor weakness in one muscle group can lead to crepitus, soreness or things that click weirdly in the body.

AIM: That’s such an interesting perspective. Okay, so let’s say someone comes to you with shoulder pain from carrying around an infant car seat or groceries. What would you do?

Dr. Caylin: It depends on their stage of dysfunction. In other words, is it acute, subacute or chronic? If acute, my aim is to help them recover from the injury properly with pain relieving modalities, gentle mobilization, spinal-sparing movements, and making sure they don’t develop incorrect movement patterns. At this point we often use supplements like the Soft Tissue Support Pack or SPM Active. If the dysfunction is subacute or chronic, which usually starts around 6-8 weeks after an injury, we work on encouraging reactivation, and explaining that you don’t have to be afraid of exercise and movement. You see, you can have pain and not be harming yourself. Think about when you bend a perfectly healthy finger back for an extended period of time or stretch a muscle before you exercise – it can be achy after sustained hold or even hurt a little, but it’s healthy. When there is fear of pain, apprehension of movement can lead to ingrained, abnormal movement patterns and more dysfunction. Here at AIM, we have found that when a person with subacute or chronic dysfunction works with myself or other chiropractors in our office, Dr. Liz Woolford for prolotherapy, and one of our amazing Rolfers (referring to Sharon Madden and Becky Korfhagen), we have great success at reducing their dysfunction and their risk of needing surgery.

AIM: How wonderful! Let’s say someone reads this blog and wants to see you, what should they expect from their visit?

Dr. Caylin: My first appointment with anyone is usually focused on getting their complete medical history and doing a physical examination. I tend to be very thorough on history and examination during the first visit and a bit lighter on treatment. I spend a great amount of my time explaining objective findings, educating them on their dysfunction, and setting future goals.

AIM: Why do you need to take a complete medical history when someone is simply coming to you for one or two specific problems?

Dr. Caylin: I don’t treat a shoulder, a neck or a knee – I’m treating a whole person. Getting a patient’s full history helps me learn about the stresses their body has been under throughout their lifetime and can improve my ability to set attainable goals. For instance, a first-time appointment is a great time to learn about a person’s past history of athletic activity.

AIM: Why?

Dr. Caylin: Well, a baseball or softball player would have greater range of motion in one shoulder over another, which as an adult can lead to a compensation pattern due to an unstable shoulder. Someone who played soccer and favored their right leg may have more hip rotation on that side. Helping athletes transition into new sports, like carrying a car seat in and out of the house or sitting at a desk all day, is what I commonly treat.

AIM: Is there anything else you want your patients to know about your first appointment with them?

Dr. Caylin: Yes! Please let them know I’d really appreciate them wearing athletic clothing! It’s so much easier for them to participate in the physical exams and exercises when they are not wearing a suit or skirt!

AIM: Okay. Will do. Thank you for spending a moment with us.

Dr. Caylin: My pleasure!


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