Athletic Training

Written by Jared Vincenti
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Athletic training is the practice of diagnosing, treating, and preventing sports-related injury. This branch of medicine is mostly concerned with the effects of force and repetitive stress on the body, and how to effectively reduce the effects of these on an athlete's performance. Athletic training takes many approaches to treating injury, but usually focuses on the cause of injury, even if it's not readily apparent.

Tracing a Problem to its Source

To illustrate the work of a sports trainer, we will follow the example of a runner with pain in his knee. The trainer will look at the site of the discomfort, and move the whole leg into different positions to see what hurts. It turns out that twisting the knee from the hip causes pain, and the trainer identifies this as iliotibial band syndrome.

Despite the pain being manifested in the knee, the problem is with the iliotibial band--a long piece of tissue that runs over the pelvis and down the femur. However, this is only half of the trainer's job. He has to figure out what caused the irritation of the iliotibial band. After asking the runner a few questions, he determines that the problem is from running on a banked surface, which irritates one side of the body more than the other.

The trainer then prescribes rest, ice, and stretching regimes to restore the iliotibial band and reduce the pain in the knee. As you can see, sports medicine is not just interested in removing the symptoms (which a few painkillers can do), but in eliminating the cause of the problem. Oftentimes, a pain in one area can be a result of a problem in other areas, and correcting bad habits is often the solution to athletic injuries.

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