By Frank Alexander
Baseball Health Network
Mike Reinold, PT, DPT, SCS, CSCS is the President and Co-Founder of Champion Physical Therapy and Performance in Waltham, Massachusetts. He is a world-renowned expert in physical therapy and sports performance. He uses his background in sport biomechanics, movement quality, muscle imbalances, and manual therapy to help some of the most elite athletes return to the sport they love. Currently a consultant for the Chicago Cubs, Mike played a key role in 2007 as he led the efforts in keeping the Boston Red Sox healthy on their way to a World Series Championship! He has been featured in ESPN, Sports Illustrated, Men’s Health, and peer-reviewed publications such as The American Journal of Sports Medicine and the Journal of Athletic Training, among many others.
Mike was kind enough to talk with Team Ahmad’s Frank Alexander, MS, ATC about his background and how his team at Champion Physical Therapy and Performance keep their athletes healthy.
Frank Alexander: What made you want to become a physical therapist?
Mike Reinold: I always liked science and sports, but then I took an anatomy class in high school and knew I wanted to get into medicine. I was fascinated by how the body works. I chose physical therapy as a way to integrate my passion for sports medicine, human biomechanics, and helping athletes return to the field.
FA: What advice would you give to someone looking to work with elite athletes?
MR: To get into sports, especially at the elite level, you need to intimately understand the sport. Volunteer your time to work with people that work with elite athletes in the field you are most passionate about. For me, it was baseball. I moved to Alabama in the ‘90s to work with Dr. James Andrews and the team at ASMI. Surround yourself with the best and learn from them. This will put you in a much better position to succeed.
FA: How do you help keep your athletes healthy after they’ve completed their formal physical therapy?
MR: Our model at Champion is an integrated approach to performance-based physical therapy and sports performance training. The two areas often overlap and merge. They should be coordinated together. With athletes, our philosophy is that they actually “micro” injure themselves each event, so we encourage proactive performance therapy to help them maintain performance and reduce injuries. This is the model I developed for the Red Sox that we performed throughout the entire system. We were very proactive in maintaining the appropriate physical characteristics throughout the season versus retrospectively waiting for injuries to occur.
FA: What new modalities are you using to help your athletes get the most out of their physical therapy session?
MR: We are always experimenting with new techniques and modalities with the goal of helping athletes stay on the field and get back from injury as fast as possible. We proudly throw the kitchen sink at our athletes. Both instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM) and cupping are deeply integrated into all our techniques now. The athletes love it and we often get immediate improvement in how they feel and move. It has been a changer. Lately, we have started to integrate blood flow restriction (BFR) training into our postoperative rehabilitation. This allows us to have a more robust physiological response when loading the body at a lower percentage of their maximum load, which is required in rehab. The results have been promising but we are still developing our specific applications.
Frank J. Alexander, Jr., M.S., ATC, is a Physician Extender to Dr. Christopher Ahmad, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at Columbia University Medical Center.