The DL on the TR

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Where DL means down low and TR means Training Room.

As a collegiate athlete, I have naturally spent hours upon hours in my school’s Athletic Training Room. You could even say it’s sometimes my home away from home (apartment) away from home (permanent home away from school). It’s hard to explain the training room to non-athletes and people who don’t fully understand college athletics but I’ll try my best to clue you all in as to what goes on in here.

I guess for starters, the real question is what doesn’t go on in here? I have experienced literally all emotions in the TR since being at school these past two years. There was originally a love-hate relationship between me and the TR; this then turned into an aggressive hate relationship, and now I’m happy to report that we are on good terms again. The TR is the home to the ice machine, ice baths, hot whirlpool, stretching tables, rehab modalities, rehab equipment, extensive bandaid/bandage cabinet, taping table and the wonderful athletic trainers. 🙂

Here is a brief breakdown of my four semesters as seen through the TR:

Freshman Fall: I only had to come in to get water before practice everyday (a freshman duty), get my baseline concussion test done before the start of preseason, and meet the team physician and get cleared to play before preseason began. This was all.

IMG_5882Freshman Spring: Forced beyond my will (which I later learned was for my own good) to come into the TR at least two times per day. I was diagnosed with CECS and had to meet the team physician every Wednesday afternoon to discuss my current situation and what I should try to do in the upcoming week. I also had to ice bath my shins to reduce the swelling and get my anterior tibialis muscles massaged with something similar to Graston tools to try to release the fascia (tissue directly covering the muscle). During this semester, I also sprained my ankle, requiring me to complete ankle strengthening exercises once a day, daily and have “stim”, basically electric currents, on my ankle to help build back my strength and reduce swelling. Since my freshman year spring, I have gotten my ankles taped to help stabilize it and reduce the workload off of my shin compartments which usually have to work hard to control my ankle movements.

In the picture, my ankle is wrapped in the “Game Ready”, which pumps cold water in and around a wrap and simultaneously my foot is elevated, both done to aid in the reduction of the swelling. This was completed until my ankle returned to its original range of motion and strength.

 Sophomore Fall: Actually for once in my life, I was good! …… Until receiving a concussion in September, taking me out of class for two weeks and out of field hockey for the rest of our season. NOT FUN. But, those times have passed and I am stronger because of it! Having a concussion required me to get driven to the TR by one of my coaches or teammates, until I was off of bedrest and physically and mentally cleared to walk there myself. In the TR I would have to complete a SCAT test (a paper concussion test) which documented my symptoms, long-term and short-term memory, coordination, balance, and cognitive skills until I was fully recovered. Also during my recovery I had to get into “the noose of shame”, or a traction device to help the muscles in my neck until I was able to regularly visit the team chiropractor. On days with unusually painful headaches, one of the athletic trainers would give me a pressure point massage to try to shrink the muscular knots in my neck at the base of my head. I also had to see our team physician EVERY Wednesday so he could witness any progressions and suggest things to alter to best try to heal my brain and post concussive symptoms.

** NOTE: This was when I hated everything involving the TR. I don’t blame myself though because who wouldn’t hate the place where they have to sit in the noose of shame, take (and fail) never-ending SCAT tests, and have the trainers massage my knots which at first worsened the pain, but eventually (and fortunately) they dissolved all of the knots (….. until finals week; where the tension knots became infinitely worse).

In the pictures below, I documented my first day back at class (and I tried to look the least confused as possible – although as you can see, I still looked very concussed/confused), at the imaging services center in the Williamsburg Regional Hospital, when I got scans of my brain completed, and the last two pictures help better show the dreadful “noose of shame”. You’re literally sitting in the corner of the TR and staring straight ahead at a door while you’re hooked up to this contraction and anytime you move your face, head or neck it tightens; I believe the name is extremely fitting.

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Sophomore Spring: More compartment syndrome problems due to overtraining in our off-season. It definitely wasn’t even comparably bad compared to the pain I endured a year ago during my Freshmen Spring season. It was more emotionally draining that I was having physical problems again and I came to the realization that this is just something I am going to have to toughen out and live with.

In the pictures below, I’m sitting in a cold whirlpool/ice bath with one of my teammates, and the other two pictures were snapchat screenshots from another one of my teammates. In the “0 MPH” picture, you can see the STIM pads on her legs, along with ice bags, and in the other picture, both legs are getting ultrasound treatment.

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Sophomore Summer: I visited the wonderful TR every day during the week for knee rehab (PFPS), ankle strengthening and hip strengthening exercises which both help alleviate the pain caused by the CECS. YAY! I have learned to not hate the single place on campus which has helped keep me both alive and functioning despite multiple injuries and problems. Our team athletic trainer is so awesome (and the other ones are pretty great too) and after two extremely long years I learned that they are all here to help make us, athletes, better and back out on the field, court, pool, gym, etc.

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The pictures above are all from this summer; I have to heat my shins with a hot pack, to loosen the muscles before I begin my rehab exercises, I get my ankles taped to help with stability and prevent my shin muscles from over-working and becoming unnecessarily swollen, for a short period of time this summer, my athletic trainer tried “combo” which is just a combination of both ultrasound treatment and stim treatment coming from the ultrasound head simultaneously, and the final picture just shows me ice-cupping my knees after completing my rehab exercises and to reduce the swelling.

I can almost guarantee that there will be more posts in the future (especially during the school year) referencing the TR – but I SWEAR I will only say positive things about my experiences here. I have a not-so-great track record with my team athletic trainer regarding the negativity I associated with the TR and how poorly I talked about it to my teammates. If you ever read this, please know that I am extremely grateful for everything you do to help me and that the TR isn’t actually so bad afterall <3.

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