Teamwork Is The Key To Healing After An Injury

Making It The Best Visit Possible

We’ve created a ‘help form’ to give you the best possible visit to your provider. Just click here: Download the Provider’s Visit Form

Going to the doctor and even your favorite provider can be a stressful experience, but sometimes it just needs to be done. We want you to have the best experience possible.

So let’s get into the provider’s visit:

Your gymnast is injured and you think she needs to go see a provider. Let’s walk through this process and see where she should go and what questions you need to ask when you get there.

Which Provider Should I See

Your pediatrician or family practitioner is great at yearly check-ups and illness visits, but many times they are not equipped to deal with a sports musculoskeletal injury. Now, with that being said, it’s important that your primary care provider is aware of the injury and why you are seeking help at a sports specific provider. Sometimes, your pediatrician might have a great colleague or referral to help you get to the right spot.

So which provider should you use? Just like any profession, not all providers have the same qualifications . I personally am a chiropractor, but I have a board certification in sports (Diplomate of the American Chiropractic Board of Sports Physicians). My good friend Dave Tilley is a Certified Sports Physical Therapist and he also is great at musculoskeletal injuries. We’ve both spent many hours treating gymnasts and learning practical measures to rehabilitate gymnasts.

The point of this is that there are going to be providers that specialize in sport, and have the credentials to back this up, and those that don’t. Going to a provider that does not specialize in sport can be detrimental to your gymnast’s sports career as proper injury care can be delayed, or the proper referral to an orthopedic doctor might be put off for lack of knowledge.

Choose a good credentialed, board certified sports provider for your gymnast. If there is a provider that specializes in gymnastics, even better.

What Should The Provider’s Visit Entail?

Each visit should include the following:

  • Intake forms
  • Vitals
  • A sports specific history with the doctor understanding gymnastics terms
  • An appropriate exam
  • A treatment plan
  • An expected return to play timeframe (this of course is fluid)
  • A question and answer time where you feel comfortable with what has been discussed

If your encounter does not include all of this, then you’re probably in the wrong place for a high level athlete (which all gymnasts are). If the only recommendation is NO GYMNASTICS FOR 30 DAYS, and there is no other plan or explanation for the rest, you need to find a new provider.

Once you have a plan in place, and you’ve agreed to it, it’s your responsibility to help your gymnast stick to it.

At my office right now, on my white board, I wrote a quote I came up with:

You don’t have to do your assigned activities and exercises, but you also don’t have to get better!

Remember, if you see a good provider and they assign exercises and activities and you don’t follow through, then that’s on you.

Bring Your Coaches In On The Plan

Gymnastics is a coach intensive sport because of the intense skills involved. Your coach has to understand your gymnast’s current injury, the plan that needs to be implemented, and the expected time frame for return to play. On the flip side, coaches shouldn’t be determining what activities are right for your gymnasts. That’s the provider’s job.

If your coach is forcing your child to do vaults when your gymnast has Sever’s disease, and your gymnast’s heel feels like it’s on fire, then there’s a problem at your gym.

Example of What A Plan Should Look Like

Here’s an example of our Sever’s Disease Protocol (http://gymnastcare.com/what-you-need-to-know-about-eliminating-your-athletes-heel-pain):

This protocol lasts 2 weeks. At the end of 2 weeks, if there continues to be pain in the heel, an x-ray will be ordered. There have been rare circumstances of a tumor or fracture in the heel, and this should be ruled out if conservative methods do not work. Steps 1 and 2 should be done every hour that your gymnast is not asleep or not in school. This protocol should be done in practice and if an event causes pain, they should stop and begin steps 1 and 2:

  1. Gently stretch calf with straight leg and with bent knee hourly
  2. Cold water soak (50-54 degrees F) hourly
  3. Compress the foot and calf with a sock or ace bandage after practice, while sleeping, and when at school
  4. Support the arch during activity with taping or The X Brace
  5. 3-4 times daily, working on short foot control exercises so as to not have to use external support devices of the foot long term
  6. Every other day, massage the calves

The doctor would assign this, parents would make sure all of the steps are taking place, the gymnast does the exercises and lets her parents and coach know when there’s additional pain, she also does the stretches and cold water soaks, and the coach makes sure there is no pain in practice and gives time to do the therapy.

When we’re all a team, our gymnasts get better and become better gymnasts.

What Questions Should I Ask Once I’m There?

So what are the most important questions you should be asking when you go to the doctor? Here’s a list of the most important ones that we think will have the biggest impact on your visit:

  • What’s the exact issue that is causing my gymnasts pain?
  • What is her expected return to play timeline?
  • What are her daily action steps (what should she be doing daily to help prepare her for return to play)?
  • When is our follow up appointment to reassess her progress?
  • How do we prevent this from occurring in the future?

Go To The Doctor With Confidence

With these action steps, you’re ready to go to the provider’s office with confidence. Find out your diagnosis and what your action plan is for the future.

Download our Provider’s Visit Form and take it with you for the best possible visit. This has the action plan for your gymnast, the doctor, and your coaches. It’s easy to use and very effective. Let us know how it works for you in the comments below.

Just click here to download the Provider’s Visit Form and have the BEST visit possible!

Dr. Joshua Eldridge

About Dr. Joshua Eldridge

Dr. Joshua Eldridge has specialized in protecting gymnasts from injury. He is the inventor of The X Brace, and has developed a treatment protocol for Sever's disease and heel pain that has helped thousands of gymnasts throughout the world. Dr. Eldridge brings practical, easy injury care and prevention that can be done at home.