Friday, October 10, 2008

Healing Psychology

Marras WS, Davis KG, Heaney CA, Maronitis BS, Allread WG. The influence of psychosocial Stress, gender, and personality on mechanical loading of the lumbar spine. Spine. 2000;25:3045–3054.

It was a coincidence when I had just finished reading this journal article when I received an email from an A.T. student doing a master's thesis on healing psychology. I found it interesting the questions seemed to focus on verbal counseling. That's one way of approaching the problem.

Those of you who read my blog on a regular basis know I believe in empowering the athlete. Tradition tells us to "focus on the weak points, the weak links". Vern Gambetta taught me years ago that this may not be a good strategy for short, or long term success. Rather, teach the athlete to exploit their strengths.

Set the athlete up for success. If you have evaluated the athlete and determined a certain motion or plane is painful, then don't go there. Work around the injury. Find a plane, direction, speed, range etc. that's not painful and let that be your starting point. Think of my previous post with the hamstring strain athlete. Although he had a grade 2 BF strain, he moved very well in the frontal & transverse planes. I put my thinking cap on and came up with as many exercises & drills I could think of that integrated the hamstring in these planes. Forget about endless ice, stim, stretching. Let their own nervous system quiet the pain & muscle spasm. If there are team drills the athlete can safely participate in, let them do it.

In my 26+ years of athletic training, I have never healed anyone. That is a skill I will never have.

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