Physical Therapy Techniques Used to Get Injured Athletes Back in the Game

The human body is a phenomenal machine, capable of miraculous feats and kinesthetic marvels. However, even the greatest athletes are susceptible to serious injury, more so than less active people due to the often severe strain they undergo as a part of their training. Injury at the wrong time can end whole careers, but physical therapists and physical therapy assistants can play an important role in helping to quickly return athletes to peak performance.

Teresa Luz, a 36 year old CrossFit enthusiast, knows this all too well. She was lifting alongside her team in the Atlanta regional trials for the CrossFit games earlier this year when disaster struck. Luz pulled a ligament in her lower back during the middle of a 350-pound deadlift with a teammate and found herself wracked with pain. If she could not keep going, her team would be forced to withdraw from the competition.

Lucky for her, her teammate, Jimmy Violand, was a licensed physical therapist. Violand, with the help of his employer Andrew Bloch, was able to apply something called reflexive pattern therapy, or RPT. A physical therapist or PTA can use RPT to elicit the body’s own natural reflexes to help address pain.

Within minutes of Violand applying RPT, Lux was back up and moving again. Violand continued to apply treatments throughout the weekend and Luz was able to perform through seven events without any problem. Her seemingly miraculous recovery helped her and her team earn their spot in the CrossFit Games finals, all thanks to Violands expertise.

“It is not a cure,” said Block. “Patients have to do work to get better, but RPT is a good starting point on that journey.”

While RPT is not a cure in and of itself, it can certainly aid athletes like Luz in high pressure situations. Physical therapy techniques are a vital part of professional sports, and injured athletes everywhere can testify to the game winning role it can play in their careers.


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