At Podium Sports Medicine, we’re known for the novel approach that we bring to training, fitness, and wellness. As one of the only medical practices in the United States offering such performance services in concert with a dedicated Performance Lab, our unique approach to optimization has led to the continued growth of our practice and the privilege of serving patients from all over the country, and even some from farther away. Admittedly, this is not the “traditional” model of healthcare, but that’s one of the things we’re most proud of. The “traditional” model doesn’t seem to be doing the general population any favors.
As unique as our performance and wellness services are, we also take an aggressive and evidence-based approach to dealing with injuries. In Sports Medicine, musculoskeletal injuries provide the “bread and butter” of any physician's practice. As a fellowship-trained and certified Sports Medicine physician, diagnosing and treating these injuries is my specialty (or sub-specialty, as the case may be). While my passion for performance seems well-documented, I think there is perhaps less of an emphasis on the more common role of injury diagnosis and treatment. Though these may be common aspects of any sports physician’s practice, I like to think we approach it in a manner similar to that with which we address performance. After all, an injured athlete can’t perform their best.
Our philosophy of injury treatment is rooted in the most current sports medicine and sports science research. It’s a sad truth, but too often cutting-edge injury treatment is reserved for elite and professional athletes. Implementation of the most evidence-based therapies seems to be kept to the treatment rooms of the top university athletic programs or the regimens of professional athletes with their own staff of practitioners. There is no reason this has to be the case.
An admonition to “just rest” is often neither necessary nor considered best practice when assembling a therapeutic prescription for healing. Too often though, active patients are left with this “expert” advice. Just rest. Even worse, some doctors question the very reasonability of activity and training. “Why do you do that? Just rest!” Why do you run? Why do you ride your bike? Why do you lift weights, go to CrossFit, or swim? Just rest! Perhaps this begs the question, why are nearly 50% of doctors overweight or obese?
At Podium Sports Medicine, we recognize that the body was meant to move, and movement heals. Our goal is to return you to your activity, training, and competition as soon as possible, and preferably in a state of greater resilience. Using both time-tested medical interventions and the latest evidence-based treatments, we address your injury with the same aggressive approach as if you were at an Olympic Training facility.
That’s all well and good, and every active person likes to hear that, I know. But what does that mean? While it’s individualized to every patient and condition, here are some basic tenets of our diagnostic and treatment philosophy.
- Intensive diagnostic protocol. This doesn’t necessitate lots of expensive (and often unwarranted) tests and imaging. I believe this starts by spending time with a patient. A ten minute interaction is not a doctor’s visit, it’s a pleasantry. And it’s often of little use. I aim to spend 45 minutes to an hour with each patient on their initial visit. I learn about their medical history, their training history, their competitive history, the history of the problem, and their goals. An exam involves all the standard tests and movements in the exam room, but it then often spills out into our Performance Lab. Movement patterns are assessed. Runners run. Cyclists ride. Your doctor’s visit may even leave you with a bit of a workout. (Oh…and we’ll start the visit on time. While you fill out paperwork or wait beforehand, you can help yourself to a coffee from our Swiss Jura super-automatic espresso machine or a drink from the fridge.)
- Imaging. If imaging is necessary, we may perform an ultrasound in the office to look at bones, tendons, or ligaments. We can also arrange for X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs.
- Movement. The vast majority of injuries do not require complete rest. In fact, most tissue in the body heals better when it is moving. Stress imparts signals necessary to trigger healing. Recognizing this, our injured patients are often encouraged to keep moving. However, we want to ensure proper movement so that you provide the proper signals to your tissues. Move your injury, but move it well and appropriately.
- Anti-inflammatories are a mainstay in the treatment of injuries in medical practices across the US. That is a shame. They can serve a purpose, rarely, but they are very often unnecessary if not detrimental.
- Ice? The same doctor that recommended that Ibuprofen probably also recommended ice. That, too, is an antiquated and unsubstantiated treatment method in the vast majority of cases. It can even slow healing. We aim to employ better, novel, evidence-based therapies.
- Diet. Nutritional advice is very important when injured and healing. At Podium Sports Medicine, we will advise you on a diet which will aid your return to activity.
- Prevention. Perhaps most importantly, your doctor should help you determine why your injury occurred. We evaluate your movement patterns and your training history to help you avoid injuries in the future. Our goal is not only to provide the best possible treatment, but to prevent future needs for our services. It might be a bad business model, but that’s what we aim to do.
A treatment regimen of rest, ice, and anti-inflammatories is a thing of the past. You won’t find such a prescription at any facility that is treating high-end athletes with the latest scientific evidence. If this is what has been suggested for you, might I recommend a second opinion?
- Dr. Kevin Sprouse