After a gold medal performance, the first person the athlete hugs is usually their coach or trainer. It takes more than undying will and physical gifts to achieve greatness. Top-level athletic accolades require the knowledge and guidance that only a trainer can provide.
But are Olympians the only ones that should benefit from an athletic trainer? After all, knowledge is power, whether your goal is a gold medal or just getting in shape.
We spoke with Chris Blaser, a certified athletic trainer, and sports medicine manager at Banner Health Clinic in Greeley, CO to better understand the role of an athletic trainer.
What do athletic trainers do differently?
If you aren’t a lifelong athlete (and even if you are!) you may be a little confused by the various specialists in sports medicine. Each one has a unique role, and you may find that working with one or more will be best for your situation. Blaser helped break it down:
Athletic trainers – “Athletic trainers tend to focus on injury prevention, clinical evaluation, rehabilitation of injuries, and emergency medicine, as well as topics like nutrition, psychology, and health care administration,” said Blaser. They will help you put together a rehabilitative training plan that suits your needs and motivate you along the way.
Physical therapists – If you are injured or have a chronic issue, physical therapists are well equipped to help you recover or overcome it. They also receive deeper training in other more complicated areas of the body including the neurologic system, cardiopulmonary, balance, or specific areas of the musculoskeletal system.
Sports medicine doctors – These doctors can be surgical or non-surgical. Some doctors may specialize in a particular practice or area of the body. If needed, they can oversee the practices of the athletic trainer.
How you might be able to benefit from an athletic trainer
1. Get more enjoyment from your hobbies or career
Do you play golf on the weekends? Do you work in a trade? Whether you’re swinging a 5-iron or a hammer, you’ll enjoy your craft more when you train. In many trade careers, injury can feel inevitable. Preventive rehabilitation sessions with the help of an athletic trainer will make you more effective and resilient. It may even lengthen your career (not to mention your drive).
2. Better understand an athlete in your life
You can’t be on the field with your teen while they swing the bat. But you can follow a similar training regimen and practice with them at home. Not only will you show them an example of hard work, but you’ll be also able to relate with them in a way you couldn’t before.
3. Athletic trainers can help lower your risk for disease or injury
If your family has a history of heart disease, physical activity is one of the best ways to lower your risk over time. Getting and staying active will also lower your likelihood of injury. By working with a trainer, you’ll also get instruction on how to exercise safely and get a plan that scales well with your abilities.
4. You’ve got a goal
It doesn’t have to be January 1 for you to have a new goal. An athletic trainer can help you put together a training plan that ramps up at a feasible pace and helps you to avoid injury. A little added accountability never hurts either. Adding an athletic trainer to the mix is a great way to change your mindset about exercise and kick off a new routine.
5. Simply put, you’ll get a better quality of life
Everything in your body is connected. There is plenty of evidence that a healthy exercise, diet, and social life can make you happier overall. An athletic trainer can help you balance all those things, all the while making you stronger. You’ll feel better, inside and out.
Athletic trainers are for everyone
“Athletic trainers can help world-class athletes and weekend warriors alike,” said Blaser. They can help everyone from an elderly patient with soreness to the star athlete getting back in for their championship game.” If you are interested in implementing a fitness plan, talk to your primary care provider or find an athletic trainer to begin.
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