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Better the tool, better the job

Friday, January 24, 2014
Dirt Under the Nails

American football player, Navorro Bowman, a key linebacker for the San Francisco 49ers, tore his anterior cruciate ligament this past weekend. The wider population may know of this structure by its acronym, the “ACL.” 


Bowman is reported to have also injured his medial cruciate ligament (MCL) in the tackle but some reports state that they are waiting two weeks to make a final decision on whether this too will require surgery, I suspect to allow the inflammation phase to pass. An outstanding player in the league right now and described as “unforgiving” on the field by one sports reporter, his injury is duly noted as his absence will be felt by his team and fans alike.


While it is always hard to predict exactly when an athlete will be full-go again, Bowman is anticipated to be ready in time for the start of the 2015 season which starts later this year. When asked whether he will be as good as he was before the injury, one reporter was reassured that he will. I think much of that came from the ghastly distortion of the knee after impact.


Once surgery is done, Bowman will face an intensive off-season of rehabilitation versus the typical bit of R&R followed by endurance, strength and power training before the start of pre-season. An athlete at that level, after sustaining an injury, lives in the training room (in the States athletic trainers who are specially trained to manage athlete injuries call their space a “training room” versus a “clinic”) facing their rehab protocol aggressively as they race the clock to get back onto the field as quickly and safely as possible. Technology with knowledge allows a rehab team to meet the seemingly “super human” timeline. It is a combination of factors that contribute to this but what it all boils down to is “commitment.”


Good clinicians with access to the right resources can achieve the best outcomes. Good athletes who aim for perfection in everything he/she does will get the best results. When you read up on Christiano Ronaldo’s path to success, it is clear that every decision made was carefully calculated and deliberate. He surrounded himself with credible people, who had the tools to achieve incredible things while he gave them his full commitment.


While it is where it starts and ends, a commitment to athletic excellence is about more than the athlete’s desire to achieve. A strategically interwoven approach is necessary from financers to the cleaners. We live in a world of a lot of “-ists” sometimes to the point where it seems that the perception is that only the “-ists” count. Cardiologists, psychologists, physiotherapists, podiatrists…and in T&T we have our own specialists called “bandwagonists” but it must be remembered that these aren’t the only types of specialists. 


You have athletic trainers, architects, accountants, financial advisors, project managers, etc and when it comes to sports, as it does in any other organisation or venture, every single person has a part to play towards contributing to overall success.


In my field, while having the fancy equipment is not necessary for good outcomes, access to the best technology can certainly improve them. Check it this way: you have two cleaners both with experience and good reputations and they both need to get a huge warehouse floor shiny clean. One uses basic tools to get the job done—a broom, a mop and bucket, a scrubbing brush, polish and gets on their hands and knees to execute. The other has access to more technologically advanced tools that are eco-friendly. 


Which of the two situations will involve more cost? Which of the two will be less likely to suffer with back pain and/or knee pain and therefore be healthier? Which of the two will work faster and more efficiently? Therefore, which of the two in the end will have better measurable outcomes? They are both good, but the one with the tools, trained to use them well will clearly perform better.


If all goes well, Bowman will be ready for next season because he is surrounded by the best. The franchise has invested in him as a professional athlete just as they have invested in their facility and human resources. Whatever equipment is needed, they have. Whatever training is required, they provide it or at least give their professionals the means to acquire it. 


If we in T&T want to see the same results, we must first recognise what “level of commitment” that is required and recognise that whatever we are willing to invest is directly related to what we are willing to accept.


Asha De Freitas-Moseley is a certified athletic trainer with the National Athletic Trainers’ Association of the USA. She has 11 years of experience rehabilitating athletes and members of the active population from injury to full play. She can be reached at Pulse Performance Ltd, located at #17 Henry Pierre St, St James. Tel: 221-2437. 


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