March is National Athletic Training Month!

Athletic trainers (ATC) are mid-level certified healthcare providers who practice in the sports medicine field. Many times ATs will collaborate with physicians, physical therapists, and coaches to optimize the performance and rehabilitation of athletes.

Athletic trainers are educated in various aspects of healthcare. Risk management and injury prevention are crucial in avoiding athlete injury. This can range from preventative taping and proper helmet fitting to acknowledging an environmental concern. Unfortunately not all injuries can be avoided. When these injuries occur, athletic trainers are well versed in recognition, evaluation, and acute care. With a wide variety of assessment skills for both orthopedic and general medical conditions, athletic trainers are a valuable resource for athletes and their parents when determining if they need to seek further medical attention or when they can return to competition. If further medical attention is necessary, it is commonplace for the physician to have the athletic trainer continue to monitor signs and symptoms over the next several days. An example of this could be monitoring concussion symptoms, or restoring range of motion and strengthening an ankle sprain.

Injury is not the only reason to seek out an athletic trainer. ATs have a background in strength and conditioning. Off season programs can be designed or enhanced by an athletic trainer keeping in mind the physical demands and the biomechanics of the sport. For example, an AT may recommend that a baseball pitcher not only strengthen their shoulder muscles but include core strengthening and flexibility. Sport specific exercise can deliver a desirable increase in performance. Performance enhancement is not necessarily limited to strength and conditioning, but can also incorporate nutrition and psychology.

Don’t be afraid to ask your school’s athletic trainer for help. They are very valuable assets to the world of sports.

IVCH athletic trainers Kayla Olson, Connor Armstrong, and Jake Washkowiak provide athletic training services to LaSalle-Peru High School, Mendota High School, Putnam County High School, Illinois Valley Community College, and the LP Youth Football League. Performance Enhancement sessions and Concussion Management Clinic are offered at IVCH Center for Physical Rehabilitation and Aquatics; call 815-780-3509 to schedule an appointment.