Health Masters PT - November 2017

hen my youngest son, Mason, was 10 years old, he informed me that one day he was going to play college basketball. He’d always been a passionate little kid, especially out there on the court, so I resolved to do anything I could to make my son’s dream a reality. He was highly competitive and talented for his age, always scrapping with the older kids on the court, including his big brother. I’d even go so far to say that he had a bit of a chip on his shoulder, which only motivated him more. It was clear to me that if he kept up this fighting spirit, those college ball aspirations would definitely be within reach. But fairly early on, he began to develop some persistent lower back pain. I had him go through a few diagnostic tests with me and determined that the problem was sacroiliac joint instability, which basically means problems in the joints of the upper pelvis. I treated him with a battery of exercises and stretches, which kept the pain at bay for a while. Eventually, though, it returned, the same as before. We went through this process a couple more times, and despite doing my best to eliminate the pain at the source, it always returned. Luckily, fortune struck. A therapist who was working with me had a friend back from her college days (her basketball strength coach at the time) who had become the strength coach for the Utah Jazz. She was known for employing a therapy framework designed for elite athletes called the Peak Performance Project, or “P3” for short. When I contacted her, thinking maybe she could give me a few methodologies we could add to Mason’s treatment, she suggested I reach out to a team called P3 Santa Barbara, who were located out in California. They were real state-of-the-art, high-performance guys. I gave them a call and spoke to their founder, Dr. Marcus Eliot. When I told him Mason’s situation, he was a little hesitant to help me out, worried that I was just another one of those crazy helicopter parents trying to force their kids to athletic success. W Working With the Best

HOW MY HIGH SCHOOL TEACHER GUIDED ME INTO PHYSICAL THERAPY

But when he realized I was earnestly trying to help my kid, he invited me out to their laboratory.

What I saw at their facility was a fundamentally new avenue of learning for a therapist like me. It was totally earth-shattering. This was a team at the absolute peak of their field, backed by a huge body of tried-and-tested research and techniques, and they work with some of the best athletes in the world. Over a few days, they performed a thorough evaluation of Mason and developed a program for his recovery. When we returned to El Paso, the protocol that they’d developed for Mason proved to be effective and the results were dramatic. We continued working with P3 and their techniques all the way through Mason’s high school and college basketball careers. We’d head back to Santa Barbara four or five times a year to reevaluate the course Mason was taking, making sure it was perfect. Meanwhile, they would allow me to shadow and help the therapists who were working with incredible athletes from the NFL, NBA, and MLB. So, not only did P3 help Mason reach the highest level of athleticism and prevent injury, they equipped me with a set of comprehensive rehabilitation methodologies to apply at my own practice, which have proven invaluable in the years since. In the end, Mason did realize his dream from so many years before, playing Division III ball at Lakeforest College. He had an incredible athletic career, and some of the best times of his life were out there on the court. Now, he’s an investment banker in Manhattan, and he works harder than almost anyone I know. There’s no doubt in my mind that the intense physical and mental gauntlet he went through in the gym provided him with the tools that helped him reach his current level of success and happiness. I’ve been deeply proud of him every step of the way.

–Louis Zuniga

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