The Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games are underway, with athletes finalizing years’ worth of training to earn the right to represent Team USA and compete in this year’s Games. Each athlete has a unique story in how they have obtained athletic success with the support of family, dedicated coaches and support staff such as their physicians, physiotherapists/athletic trainers and performance coaches. We are fortunate enough to work with elite athletes, especially American athletes in which we provide physical therapy services for as a National Medical Center of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC).
In this summer’s Olympic Games, new advances in training equipment will have a played a major role in the preparation for many athletes competing. Recent advances in wearable technology and applications for portable devices (phones and tablets) provide the athlete instantaneous feedback to maximize each training session. At IMG, such coaching tools provide video analysis in which our track & field athletes and coaches can break down and correct any technical flaws captured during a training session. Using real-time 3D camera technology, athletes enhance and objectively measure their weight room training sessions to capture velocity and power output with every repetition. When every millisecond and/or centimeter counts, the use of these new tools can make the difference between athletes edging out the competition.
The Holy Grail in the athletic community is to find the best method to recover from a hard training session in order to prepare the body for an upcoming training workout, and decrease the risk of injury. Traditional recovery strategies such as cold immersion baths are still being used by many athletes, but recent research has allowed us to implement this strategy more effectively without diminishing the effects of training. Over the past quadrennium athletes have implemented newer strategies for recovery that provides dynamic compression mimicking our bodies muscle pump system to promote blood flow and aide in the removal of metabolic wastes. Following a day of strenuous training, many of our athletes will take advantage of the hyperbaric chamber. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is a safe and effective way to increase the volume of oxygen in the blood, and thus facilitate recovery and repair at the cellular level.
Jorge Giral is a Doctor of Physical Therapy, Board Certified Specialist in Sports Physical Therapy, and Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist.