Athletic Trainer – not Personal Trainer, not Physical Therapist.

Hello all!

Today’s post will be all about athletic training and athletic trainers. This will be an informative post to help educate others on who and what an athletic trainer does exactly. I, myself am an athletic trainer and I am very proud to be because of things I am able to accomplish with the things I have learned through my education and job experiences. My supervisor and I were having a conversation about this just the other day and this is always a topic that pops up. If you are a person who never played sports in high school, college or professional then you might not know what an athletic trainer is.

According to the NATA (national athletic trainers’ association) “Athletic trainers (ATs) are highly qualified, multi-skilled health care professionals who collaborate with physicians to provide preventative services, emergency care, clinical diagnosis, therapeutic intervention and rehabilitation of injuries and medical conditions. Athletic trainers work under the direction of a physician as prescribed by state licensure statutes.” Athletic trainers are very diverse in what they can do as far as being a healthcare professional. We are not personal trainers one bit. If you call an athletic trainer a personal trainer by mistake you might get a very rude response back. It is a very common misconception but hate that it is. At times I wish they would change the name to something more relevant to what we actually do, like a sports therapist or something of that nature.

I am going to be honest, I was not familiar with what an athletic trainer was until I decided to go to school for it. Once I had changed my major numerous times I had set my heart on being a physical therapist or PT for short. I thought it would be a very rewarding job helping others and it was also a popular and growing field. I would have ended up being Dr. Sa running sports med. I went to a local University where I was trying to get a bachelors degree in Rehabilitative Science so I can have a degree and have all my prerequisites completed for PT school. The University I was trying to complete this at had also a athletic training program that had many of the same classes as the rehab science program. I was given the opportunity to major in both it would only cost me an extra semester. The thing that sold me to spend an extra semester at this private University was that with a degree in athletic training I would be able to have a professional job if PT school did not happen right away or while I was in PT school I would be making decent money being an athletic trainer. To be honest I thought it was something similar to that of a personal trainer. I played high school sports but I never was hurt and only saw the AT once when I dislocated my ring finger. Swan neck deformity was the official name of my injury. I had reduced it myself and had my high schools athletic trainer check it but he said there was nothing else to do but to ice it. Anyways, I decided it would be worth getting the double major and thought it would help my transcript look really competitive if I had a double major. I finished school with a double major in athletic training and rehabilitative science, as well with a minor in psychology. I still had my mind set on PT school.

Then, I was able to get an internship with a very well known professional local basketball team that I had admired since I was a young kid, I couldn’t turn it down. It was an internship as an athletic trainer. This opportunity opened up many opportunities and led me to my current status and employer which I am currently am very proud to be a part of.

Athletic trainers are the healthcare professionals of the sports world. They are mix of emergency, orthopedic injuries, rehabilitation and many more things. They are the first ones out on the fields, diamond, and courts when an athlete is injured. They help the athletes, patients or trainees get through their injuries without completely counting them out of their game of play. They are not here to help you with increasing your bench and squatting goals. They are not here to meet your fitness goals. There are some ATs who do have a background in personal training and it might even help them be a better AT but this is not who we are. The field is growing and I hope there are more opportunities for athletic trainers to be  a part of the world outside of sports. They have so much to offer.

– SA running sports med ATC

Shin Splints or Anterior lower leg pain?

  1. My second post is here! Actually, this will be my first actual post. My first post was more of an introduction but I am excited to post about an actual injury that plagues many, not only, runners but athletes as well. The infamous “shin splints”. The lower leg pain that many people do not understand why it happens to them. I even had a patient today tell me about one of her other friends that was trying to give her some tips on how to treat shin splints but her friend also mentioned that they really never go away for as long as you are running. First and foremost I want to let everyone know this is completely false information.  Before I dive into how “shin splints” can be treated, fixed and prevented I would like to get into the word itself.

“Shin splints” as most people call it, is typically referred to as a lower leg pain that occurs when you first start running. It is common to get an injury like this in the running community most often. In my line of work my fellow AT and I prefer not to call any type of lower leg pain “shin splints”. We see that it is too often mistaken for other types of lower leg pain or injuries that occur with people who run a lot. There are so many types of lower leg injuries that they all could not be categorized as “shin splints” because it is too relative of term to be used for completely different types of lower leg pain. If anything, the one type of lower leg injury that I would have to refer to as a shin splint would be the pain and tightness that many runners begin to experience on the front lateral (outside) part of the lower leg. Still, I’d like to refer to this type of injury as a tibialis anterior strain or even a type of biomechanical overload of the tibialis anterior muscle.

The tibialis anterior muscle is that same muscle that gets really tight and painful on the front lateral side of the lower leg that people like to refer to as “shin splints”. This muscle becomes tight and irritated with a certain type of gait. Gait for all of you common non medical folks is how you walk, run or ambulate moving forward. A very common running gait that people make the mistake of doing is an overstride heel strike. Now do not go and tell everyone that heel striking gait is bad this is a very common misconception. Heelstrike is where your foot is pointed up in dorsiflexion and hits the ground with the heel first then rolls through, most people walk this way. A lot of people attribute heel strike to being a bad way of running but it is not, it is more about where you land with that heelstrike. In my clinic it is probably most common with heelstrikers to overstride which is the foot placement out in front of your body making a really big stride out in front of you center of mass (CoM). A lot of fancy words here to describe this kind of gait but you can refer to the pictures for a reference. You could always google or YouTube overstride and heelstrike but it might lead you to some rabbit holes on why heelstrike is bad but it could help identify if this is your problem.

Now then, overstride has been shown to be an improper manner of running that leads to many running injuries because of the impact forces it has on the body. These can lead to so many injuries and the most common one is the “shin splints”. Again, heelstriking is not a bad thing but if you suffer from the strain on that anterior musculature then you might want to switch to a midfoot running style. Continue reading “Shin Splints or Anterior lower leg pain?”

My first blog post

Hello all,

after some technical issues I have finally got my website running. I have never done anything like this so bear with me. I have created this blog for multiple reasons:

  1. My love for sports medicine and running. I am somewhat new to running, I only started running around 1 year ago and I had some ups and downs over the past year. I have always been somewhat active throughout my life. I love playing basketball and will do so at a moments notice but being busy with life and family I have never kept up with playing bball. It was always too much of an inconvenience and I never had time to play. I started a new job at a military institution where most injuries were running related. My job required me to learn more about running injuries and how to fix these injuries. Another part of my job is preventing said injuries and in order for me to do that I embraced and was more involved with running as a culture itself. I learned to love and get better at running over the past year. My first race was a half marathon where I finished in 2:10 hours! I never imagined I could have ever achieved such a goal in my lifetime. Before I started running the longest run I had ever completed was a 5 miler I did with a friend that led me to be sore for several days. Before that 5 miler I only ran 1-2 miles at a time and was never a constant thing. But here I am 1 year later with around 400 miles under my belt.
  2. Income: So one of the first articles/blogs I read about starting your own blog and why you should leads me to my second reason. If I could start a blog for something I really like doing and get paid for it then why not?! I am not writing a blog just to add more income but it would be nice to see this grow into something more where I could earn a little more on the side, but it is not my sole purpose here.
  3. Community and support: One of the bigger reasons for this blog is to express my love for helping others and hoping to help others through their running endeavors. This blog will be geared towards sports medicine in running. That includes running injuries, preventative sports med in running, gait re-training (looking at run form), working through injuries, things to look for with running injuries, corrective exercises to help improve running, etc. This is not for running performance, I am not a coach, this is to help give advice on running related injuries and prevent them. That aspect of my job is what helps get trainees in the military back to RTT and is what I love best about it.

I really hope this blog will help people in the future so I encourage any and all types of feedback. Running is the basis for all sports, so whether you’re an avid runner or a soccer player running still relates to your health and future. Would love to hear from what you think so please leave comments and I will try my best to answer all!

– SA running ATC (athletic trainer certified)