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How do ATs decrease pain and reduce recover time? IASTM!!

4 Dec

***Please note, this blog entry is part of an assignment for my DAT program at AT Still University.  The research quoted throughout the text is fictitious and has NOT been actually performed.  Any claims of effectiveness of the IASTM Gua Sha treatments are not based on actual data***

Pain, muscle soreness, tendinitis, and overuse injuries are synonymous with sports but a team of secondary school athletic trainers (ATs) from [the local] Sports Medicine and Performance Center (SMPC) are studying a solution to the problem.  Gua shaGua sha is a form of Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization (IASTM) which has been used by Chinese for centuries.   Gua Sha is a scraping technique that intentionally raises blood flow to the area using small instruments and a massage oil.

The ATs studied the affects of Gua Sha on lower extremity musculoskeletal injury for the high school athletes in their care for the 2017-2018 school year.  The 6 high schools of the [the local] Valley School District (BVSD) were assigned to be Gua Sha treatment (n=3) or a control group treatment (n=3).  BVSD had approximately 4,500 athletes over the course of the school year.  Of these 4,500 athletes, 365 qualified for the study with 190 athletes receiving Gua Sha treatment from the AT.  Athletes at all 6 sites received standard treatment for their injury with the treatment group receiving an additional Gua Sha treatment 3-5 times per week for 30 to 120 seconds.  The published results can be found here [link to website}.  runnersResults indicated the additional Gua Sha treatment had a significant and immediate effect on pain by decreasing pain an average of X%.  Additionally, the treatment group returned to play on average X days faster than the control group.

These results are especially promising for secondary school ATs, physical therapists, and team physicians who work with high school athletes.  Gua Sha is a simple IASTM technique which does not require specialty certification course work, is safe, is fast, and effective.  The immediate significant decrease in pain allows the athlete to perform effective rehabilitative exercises and the faster return to play decreases the workload on the busy clinical time of the AT.

If you are an athlete experiencing an overuse injury, contact your local sports medicine clinic and inquire about their athletic training services!



  1. Nielsen A, Knoblauch NT, Dobos GJ, Michalsen A, Kaptchuk TJ. The effect of Gua Sha treatment on the microcirculation of surface tissue: a pilot study in healthy subjects. Explore (NY). 2007;3(5):456-66.


It is About Relationships

25 Mar

The mission of this blog is to Promote the Profession of athletic training.  The blogs are focused on skills and views that the AT has that promote the profession.  But the biggest strength we have, the biggest impact we have is in our interpersonal relationships.  The relationships aren’t just limited to the injured athletes.  It extends to Continue reading

Are you a financial asset or liability?

9 Jun

There is no doubt that this current economic climate is tough.  Administrators, Boards of Directors, CEOs and Presidents across the country are having to make tough financial decisions to streamline costs and maximize revenue.  For the profession of athletic training, school boards and administrators are often taking a hard look at the athletic training position.

An article from CA piqued my curiosity when I read the headline “Audience Angry Over COS Athletic Training Decision.” This situation at the College of the Siskiyous is not unique.  I personally know of 3 instances of the same exact decision being made at 3 high schools within a few miles of me just within the last year.  In all of these cases, a good AT lost their job and were replaced by Continue reading

The Athletic Trainer’s Role in Youth Sports

27 Mar

Wow, the month of February and March have been a flurry of activity for me.  I have been able to provide athletic training care to thousands of athletes at a youth soccer tournament, PIAA District Wrestling Championships, PIAA State Wrestling Championships, PA Junior Wrestling State Championships as well as my own athletes at my employer.  While providing these services to these groups, I was keenly aware of the amount of athletes who don’t get these services.

In an article on the Discovery Networks website, the author explores the possibility of “Smart Helmets” changing the future of youth sports.  The author quotes:

Identifying the injury is only the first step, the authors note. Smart helmets aren’t a diagnostic tool; rather, the technology could help make the connection between an athlete who may have an injury and a medical assessment. When a sensor is triggered, the athlete would need evaluation from a trained professional on-site or a referral for off-site medical evaluation.

This one paragraph clearly delineates our profession’s role in Youth Sports.  I am all for this smart technology that will clearly indicate when a possible concussive hit has been absorbed by an athlete of any age.  But a fancy LED display that indicates an excessive force is useless if their isn’t a medical professional there to clinically evaluate the athlete.  Youth football leagues need to provide athletic training services to these athletes.

Little Baseball is suffering a similar issue with pitch counts, curve ball debates and pitchers throwing with sore arms.  Pitch counts are a great tool, but they are limited in scope.  Many of the better players are playing on 2 or even 3 baseball teams at the same time.  Other youth baseball players are playing for 9 or 10 months of the year.  Research has shown that it isn’t the type of pitch that is thrown (i.e. curve ball), it is the volume of pitches that are thrown.  The volume of pitches thrown dramatically increase when you play for 2-3 teams a year.  Who is watching out for these young athletes?  Who can these young athletes approach to evaluate their arm pain without their parents making the first contact?

I firmly believe it is our profession of athletic training that can make a difference in these young athletes’ health and lives.  As my friend and colleague has in his email tagline “Every athlete deserves an athletic trainer.”  I wholeheartedly agree from ages 7 to 70 and up.  If you are involved in organized athletics, you not only deserve an athletic trainer; you need an athletic trainer.

Skill Set – Experience

6 Feb

The typical athletic trainer has a diverse skill set that they constantly develop.  This series of blog entries will seek to focus on the skill set that most athletic trainers possess in order to effectively do their job in the traditional setting.  Collectively, this skill set makes the AT a very valuable and unique resource to the athletes, coaches and administration that they serve.


February is an anniversary for me.  I passed the BOC test in February, 1995.  So, I have been an AT for 17 years now.  I remember thinking when I passed that test and got that packet with the ATC credential that I had arrived.  That I had all the skills necessary to be an AT for all athletes.  I was ready to take on anything and anyone with my expertise and had the credential to show it. Continue reading

Luxury or Necessity?

11 Jan

This morning, this article about a local to me high school caught my eye.  The title alone is thought provoking “Injury prompts Shanksville to reconsider athletic trainer.”  Somehow this school thought it prudent to cut $2,500 in spending and not provide basic athletic training services for the athletes of the school.  According to the PIAA, this school has an enrollment of 105 students in 9-12 grade and competes in 5 boys’ and 7 girls’ sports.  Basketball is the only contact sport listed, but in my experience baseball, softball, cross country, tennis and volleyball are all sports that keep the AT busy.

Today’s economy and lack of funding for public education has school districts, private schools and even public and private colleges and universities closely examining budgets.  The economic climate has administrations at every level attempting to answer the question “Is the provision of athletic training services a luxury that we provide our athletes or Continue reading

What is Our Focus?

15 Dec

Two recent articles have me thinking about what our role as Athletic Trainers is towards the athletes that we provide health care to.  In a New York Times article, a former Denver Bronco Nate Jackson calls out athletic trainers in the NFL.  He says:

This harsh reality is softened by human relationships. Football players spend every day with the members of their team’s medical staff. They learn to trust them. The athletic trainers nurse the players back to health when they are injured. Continue reading

What do you do? What do you make?

7 Nov

I am sure you are asked this question all the time when you meet people for the first time in a casual setting and the conversation starts with your career.  I saw this posted on a fellow ATs Facebook today and I thought I would post it to my blog.  Please feel free to post this on your Facebook status!

..Oh.. you’re a trainer?? (NO! I’m an Athletic Trainer, not a trainer) Oh, that’s cool, I wanted to do that. What do you make?” “WHAT DO I MAKE?? I make an ankle sprain that some Continue reading

News – Having an Athletic Trainer is the Way to Go

3 Nov

In the 10 months that I have spent writing the blog, I have read a lot of articles written about individual athletic trainers and articles about the profession of athletic training.  Most of the articles try to succinctly articulate the role of an athletic trainer and the valuable services provided.  This article may be on the of the best at relating the scope of the expertise and education of an athletic trainer.

Any team that has ever had the opportunity to work with an athletic trainer for a season, not a physiotherapist, not a person who has some first aid training, but a certified athletic trainer, would have to admit to the obvious difference in proficiency and efficiency in the way an athletic trainer attends to and deals with his/her athletes. Athletic trainers are groomed to deal with the specific challenges that accompany working with a team. Everything from assessing an injury on the Continue reading

News – AT Saves Life of 80yo Spectator

1 Nov

California – It isn’t often that an AT has to perform CPR, but situations like this one make the hours of training worth the investment in time and skill development:

niversity of Redlands head athletic trainer Junior Domingo was in the right place at the right time and ended up helping save a man’s life.

Domingo and graduate student trainers Scott Parker and Lauj Preacely, both from Cal Baptist University, were with the University of Redlands football team and going through pregame preparations at Claremont-Mudd-Scripps two weeks ago.

Some players were being taped while others milled around outside the locker room area between the football and soccer fields.

A couple of players ran over to alert Domingo when they saw an elderly man collapse about 20 or so feet away. Continue reading