by Alex Patterson Tichy, Beaumont physical therapist, DPT, Detroit Skating Club
If you’ve been watching any of the figure skating events in the 2014 Sochi Olympics, you’ve probably heard the announcers mention the Detroit Skating Club on more than a handful of occasions. The Detroit Skating Club in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan is home to 13 Olympic figure skaters from five different nations that are currently competing at the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
Within the Detroit Skating Club, Beaumont has a sports therapy clinic that has provided care to these Olympic athletes in their preparation for the Olympic Games. Elite level figure skaters train on average five hours per day, six days per week, year round. The intense training regimen combined with the inherent demands of the sport on the athlete’s body often lead to overuse injuries. As a Beaumont physical therapist, I partner with a certified athletic trainer, Jennifer Taylor, to help these athletes return to the ice as quickly as possible.
The jumps, spins, footwork and partnering elements performed by figure skaters require a high degree of precision. As a result, alterations in technique secondary to injury and lost training can be detrimental to the athlete. Our job is to quickly assess the skater’s injury, determine what aspect of training may be the cause of the injury and create a back to sport plan that will allow the skater to return to the ice as quickly as possible. Treatment of the Olympic athlete involves ongoing communication between the therapist and the skater so that rehab techniques facilitate the back to sport process. We often need to develop padding systems to relieve pressure from the skating boots or find sports tapping methods to relieve pain that do not restrict movement or interfere with the skater’s ability to perform elements on the ice.
Modalities, manual techniques and advice on appropriate strengthening, flexibility and warm-up/cool-down techniques are all included in the treatment of Olympic athletes. Once a treatment plan is created, communication with the athlete, their coaches and off-ice training team is critical so that everyone understands what elements the skater can safely train without further risk of injury and what elements need to be avoided. We additionally provide the skaters with the tools and knowledge to independently manage their injuries while abroad at the Olympics as well as at various international competitions over the season.
In addition to injury examination and treatment, we also offer a Pilates injury prevention program. The goal of this program is to maintain optimal strength, flexibility and stability while reducing the muscular imbalances resulting from the sport of figure skating.
Although I am a recognized care provider for the United States Figure Skating Association and we help treat Olympic athletes, Beaumont physical therapy at the Detroit Skating Club also offers orthopedic physical therapy services and private Pilates sessions to the general public as well. Call 248-454-0179 for additional information.