By easing pain, improving function and increasing mobility, osteopathic manual medicine offers clear benefits to athletes.
As a first-year D.O. student, Kurt Holt once saw a Drake University track student he’d met who was out for a run. He observed she wasn’t extending her leg backward due to her running style. The next time he saw her, “I told her, ‘I bet you have trouble sprinting,’” Holt recalls. “She was running 5,000- and 10,000-meter races but wasn’t finishing them.”
Holt eventually gave the Drake student two osteopathic manual medical treatments; after that, she placed in both of her track events. That sparked an idea: Holt, a former competitive bicyclist, worked with DMU’s OMM department and Drake athletic staff to offer faculty-supervised treatments twice monthly to Drake students competing in soccer, cross country, track and field.
“We’re mostly evaluating, treating and resolving biomechanical issues,” says Holt, who holds an OMM fellowship at DMU. “For our students, it’s an opportunity to see if OMM is something they’re drawn to.”
Approximately 40 DMU students and 40 Drake students participate in the program, now in its fourth year. To participate, DMU students first must provide an OMM treatment to Holt and commit at least a year to the program. That’s an advantage. “It allows us to see a patient consecutively over a year, as in the real world,” says OMM fellow Joanne Genewick, D.O.’11. “It brings together all we’re learning in class and gave me the ability to work on my approach with patients.”
Another OMM fellow, Anne Marie Darby, D.O.’11, got involved in the program to improve her OMM skills by working with patients with “real problems,” including back pain, muscle sprains and strains, tendinitis and possible stress fractures.
“Some of the comments I received from athletes I treated were that they had less back pain and extremity pain, were able to breathe easier and had improved flexibility, all of which were very important to their athletics,” she says.