Michelle Cesan, former Princeton University Field Hockey Player and member of the USA National Field Hockey Team, had been dealing with back issues for over a year. She reported, “Though I was able to get temporary relief through heat, massage and chiropractic means, nothing lasted more than a day.” Her coaches, trainers and doctors were unsure of the root cause of her symptoms, since both the MRI and bone scan were negative. Michelle was beginning to think she would have to live with the pain. That was until an Athletic Trainer from Princeton University recommended Activcore.
Michelle saw Tyler Joyce, lead physical therapist at Activcore. “It took just a couple of sessions for Tyler to evaluate me, diagnose my muscle imbalances, and make me completely pain free,” exclaimed Michelle.
It is theorized that Michelle had a motor control issue involving de-activation of the deep stabilizing muscles in her back, pelvis and hips. This loss of muscle control can make it difficult and painful to support one’s own body weight throughout a movement, especially when that body is placed under any additional loads while playing a sport.
“Performing exercises on the Redcord sling suspension system enabled Michelle to turn on and re-activate muscles that were probably dormant for at least a year,” explained Tyler. Of course, not everyone responds as fast as Michelle to this type of treatment, but many people do benefit from it.
Michelle reported, “The more I used the Redcord the better I felt, until I was finally healed. I was able to return to training, and soon after, to tournament playing and was amazed how mobile I was.” She continued, “If I start feeling back pain again, I do some of the exercises and it really helps. I was worried that my Field Hockey career was coming to an end, but that certainly wasn’t the case anymore. I only wish I had found Tyler sooner.”
Since Michelle’s response to this treatment was so remarkable, the entire Princeton University field hockey team decided to come to Activcore for pre-season screenings. The physical therapists took the athletes through a movement screen and a series of 8 kinetic-chain tests on the Redcord to “map out” each player’s body.
We found some patterns among the team members. As a whole, their hamstrings tested as the strongest muscle group. The Juniors and Seniors tested higher overall than the Freshman and Sophomores. Shoulder extension followed by push-ups were the weakest upper body tests, showing that scapular (shoulder blade) muscle stability is a common problem among the players. The weakest lower body tests were supine pelvic lift followed by side-lying hip abduction, revealing gluteus maximus and gluteus medius muscle deficits, respectively.
Based on the team members’ scores, the physical therapy staff was able to develop a tailored exercise program for each individual athlete. At home, the players began working on these identified areas of weakness and movement dysfunction. We also instructed the coaches, physical therapists and athletic trainers on ways to implement specific stability exercises on the field. The team even began doing a general neuromuscular warm-up before every practice and game.
Today, Princeton University has Redcord equipment in every athletic training room on campus. They have reported a significant reduction in injuries among their field hockey players since implementing this program.
On a periodic basis, the athletic training staff attend educational courses at Activcore to learn how to use the Redcord system for both assessment and training purposes. They are now starting to apply our methods for some of their other collegiate sports.
It has been an absolute pleasure to work with both the players and staff at Princeton University. We look forward to strengthening our relationship with the school.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are based on the opinion of the author, unless otherwise noted, and should not be taken as personal medical advice. The information provided is intended to help readers make their own informed health and wellness decisions.