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rhodes college - andrew gibson

Andrew Gibson is the Coordinator of Athletic Training Services at Rhodes College. Gibson received his Masters of Science degree from Murray State University and Bachelors of Science from the University of Memphis. Gibson is a Certified and Licensed Athletic Trainer, a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, Certified in Integrative Dry Needling, Performance Enhancement Specialist, Corrective Exercise Specialist, and Certified in the Functional Movement Screen. He is a member of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) and National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA).

Awards: Gibson was recognized in March 2017 by the Southeast Athletic Trainers’ Association (SEATA) as the College/University Athletic Trainer of the Year Award. Gibson was recognized in January 2016 by the Tennessee Athletic Training Society (TATS) as the Eugene Smith/Mickey O’Brien Tennessee College Athletic Trainer of the Year. Gibson was recognized in May 2015 by Rhodes College as the Outstanding Administrator Award.

What sparked your interest in athletic training?

I was on the football team in middle school and I took a bad hit to my arm. The other kids said they heard the pop at practice, but I don’t remember that at all. When I was injured, I spent time around the athletic trainers and was immediately attracted to what they were doing. Even then, I thought that being an athletic trainer could allow me to be involved in sports for the rest of my life.

During the 1999 summer pre-season, I did an internship with the Dolphins. At that time, I thought that I wanted to be an athletic trainer with a big, professional team. But then, I spent time at Rhodes College. I fell in love with Rhodes. The people and coaches treated me as an equal. They didn’t treat me like they were my boss, and I was accepted from the very beginning.

What is the culture like at Rhodes College?

We are a small Division 3 school, but our size doesn’t change the level of care. I believe that people don’t care about how much you know, until they find out how much you care. We are in the service industry and we help athletes get better.

When you are with good people every day, you are able to do what you do better. Since I am an out-of-the-box person and thinker, people here let me use my mind. I am able to grow in my position here.

What are your direct duties as the Coordinator of Athletic Training Services?

rhodes college

I have a wide array of duties in my position. In addition to working with our student athletes and athletic training staff, I handle physician oversight, parent oversight, and cross-campus relations.

How big is your athletic training team?

We have 5 full-time athletic trainers, including Jessica Holcomb, Nick Albertson, Diamond O’Donovan, and Michael Sheridan. We embrace the culture together and are a team. I appreciate that we believe in what we do. We are a very tight-knit staff.

What sports do you typically work with?

I work with football, baseball, men’s distance (cross country and track), and golf programs. I also consult with writing the strength and training programs for the baseball team.

Do you typically see similar injuries across all of the sports you work with?

When I see injury trends, I immediately focus on finding ways on how to reduce those injury types. I review the injuries with different sports and learn from the athletes and coaches.

For example, last year, we had too many hamstring injuries. We asked the question of “Why?” and started looking for ways to adjust our training and recovery methods.

I believe that there is always another way to look at something, and we should try to get better every day. You shouldn’t just go with the status quo and expect different results.

What is your philosophy in regards to athletic training?

To start, my philosophy is to put others before yourself and make good care a priority.

In terms of athletic training, our team believes in doing neural resets to help the athletes recover and to help with muscular pain and tightness. I don’t believe in passive care or keeping athlete still when they have an injury.  Our bodies were designed to move. We use exercise as medicine, and athletes enjoy that philosophy. That is why we include the Marc Pro and other methods like dry needling, cupping and strength and conditioning concepts into our regular athletic training room protocols.

What shifts have you seen in athletic training throughout the years?

Recovery methods have changed from when I started in the field. It used to be a lot of ice and e-STIM for athlete recovery and injuries.

Now, we focus on a progressive model based on functional movement patterns. We use an integrative approach to evaluate the injury including a movement assessment, rehabilitation and treatment of our student-athletes, which is holistic in nature paired with a strength-based implementation. Our approach to treating athletic injuries is based on the concept of resetting the nervous system with the use of modalities such as dry needling, soft tissue treatment, and cupping; and then loading the system via functional isometrics, developmental exercises, and principles of strength and conditioning.

We believe in continuing education to learn more about how we can keep improving.

How were you introduced to the Marc Pro?

About 6-7 years ago, I bought a book entitled, “Don’t Ice that Ankle Sprain.” Following graduate school during my athletic training fellowship, I had a mentor, Kevin Olds, who challenged me to think differently and not just be the best icer, taper, and wrapper. This led me to learn from people such as Mike Boyle, Gray Cook, Koichi Sato and Craig Liebenson, who influenced my career rather from webinars, seminars or one-on-one help. I then read the book, “ICED! The Illusionary Treatment Option,” which mentioned the Marc Pro, and connected with the author, Gary Reinl. 

How many Marc Pro units do you have at the university?

We have 6 training room units.

What is the protocol for using a Marc Pro at Rhodes?

Typically, we will send student athletes home with the Marc Pro so that they can use the devices all night. We have had the most success with this method. We like to use the time in the training room for the athletes to work with athletic trainers for one-on-one care.

Do you use icing as a recovery method in your training room?

We use the cold whirlpools to help reduce the risk of heat stroke and heat exhaustion in the south during the summer. The cold whirlpools after practice allow for an athlete’s core temperature to come down in these circumstances, which is essential.

But, we do not use ice for acute and chronic injuries. We found that when we are able to start our recovery protocol early with athletes and injuries, and not ice, we have experienced amazing results. For example, for an ankle sprain we will immediately after an injury use: Joint Mobilizations, Dry Needling/Soft Tissue Work, Banded Ankle Traction, and the Marc Pro. We will not ice and we see much better results.

What is the most difficult aspect about being an athletic trainer?

We work a lot of hours and it is a demanding job. It is not a typical 9 to 5 job, and on the personal-front, it can be time consuming. Our job is to help others and be there for others. When you understand that, putting in the hours is not a problem.

What is your favorite part about working with athletes on a daily basis?

The personal relationships. Once the athletes graduate, they become lifelong friends, which is amazing to be part of.

And, the job truly is so much fun! I get to work with these tremendous student-athletes every day. I get to enjoy what I am doing every day. And, I have the opportunity to continually learn and further develop my ideas and passion for the profession with an unparalleled team.

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Athletic Trainer Tip: How to Efficiently Get Student Athletes Back in the Game

KC Hackman, Head Athletic Trainer at Taylor University, shares how using Marc Pro has helped free up time for his staff so they can treat more athletes at once.

KC Hackman is in his 19th year with the Taylor University Athletic Training Department, with the 2018-2019 year marking his 14th year as Head Athletic Trainer for the Trojans. Hackman also oversees the budget and insurance policies for the Athletic Training Department at Taylor.

What initially attracted you to athletic training?

I have always been an athlete. But in high school, I injured my back and could not do contact sports any longer.

I heard about athletic training and decided to go to an athletic training summer camp at the University of Kentucky. As a junior in high school, this was my intro to athletic training. We learned the nuts and bolts of the profession, like taping, basic anatomy, and the RICE method. I decided to major in athletic training in college and the rest is history.

How many student-athletes are at Taylor University?

Approximately 500 student-athletes.

What is your philosophy in regards to athletic training?

My philosophy has changed over the years. When I first graduated, it was all about ice and compression. You would keep ice on for 20 minutes, and then take it off for an hour. The thought was, keep the area cold and keep the inflammation down.

Throughout the years, I have learned and researched more about icing and beyond. I started thinking more about if the body is causing inflammation, then maybe it is trying to heal itself.  Now, I focus on more soft tissue work, massage, Graston, cupping, and other recovery methods.

What sports do you typically work with?

I work with Men’s Basketball, Baseball, Men’s and Women’s Golf, and Men’s and Women’s Tennis.

Do you typically see similar injuries across all of the sports you work with?

With basketball, we see a lot of knee issues and ankle sprains. In tennis and baseball, we encounter shoulder and elbow injuries. And in golf, there are typically injuries with the lower back.

What shifts have you seen in athletic training throughout the years?

There has been a major shift with the discussion of icing. More questions are being asked about when is it beneficial to do the cold whirlpool? When is it beneficial to heat?

It used to be that you would ice and use electrical stim for pain control. Now, we are going beyond just treating the injury.  We actually go into the recovery aspect of training.

The thinking is, “How do I help my pitcher recover quicker today so that he can be better recovered for a game that is in 3 days?” We are not just thinking about what we do when an athlete gets hurt.

Do you use ice for recovery?

I only use ice as a pain control. I rarely use it. For example, if a player gets hit by a baseball on the field, I use it to help with the immediate pain.

How were you introduced to the Marc Pro?

I went to the PBATS conference in January of 2017.  I met Gary at that conference in passing. Throughout the trip, I heard about all of the different technologies and modalities for athletes, everything from sleep chambers to recovery tanks. All of these things were ridiculously expensive and not practical for my facilities. I had a small budget with my NAIA school and I heard mention of the Marc Pro.

When I returned back from the conference, I continued to do research about the Marc Pro. During the season, one of my best pitchers got injured and nothing was working.

I ordered a Marc Pro to see if it would help him get back to play.  While the senior didn’t have the best year, he wouldn’t have played at all if we hadn’t found the Marc Pro. And, in he had his best start of the year during his last start of the season.

How many Marc Pro units do you have at the university?

We have 3 units now. My staff keeps saying that they need more units because we are always using them. We can use the Marc Pro for so many things—from acute muscle strains, to swelling, to recovery.

What is the protocol for using a Marc Pro in your training room?

The majority of treatments with the Marc Pro are done in the training room. The athletic trainer can then place the electrodes in the right spots for each individual athlete.

How has the Marc Pro helped your athletic training staff?

Using this device gives us more time to do other things and address more athletes. We are then not all tied up and are able to work with multiple athletes at the same time.

What is the most difficult aspect about being an athletic trainer?

Time. We work weird, random hours. There is no off season.  The fall is always the busiest for us because all 500 student-athletes are all participating at the same time, either off or on-season. But while the hours can be crazy,  I get paid to watch sports. It is amazing.

How are you invested in the student-athletes?

We are a resource. We are a confidante. We can be a sounding board. If an athlete is injured, you have to help an athlete recover emotionally and mentally too.

Athletes are the most vulnerable when they are injured and they are counting on you to protect them. You have to hold them out of games and practices when they might not want to. They might get mad at you, but it is your job to navigate the risks and put their health and wellness first.

And sometimes, you have to deal with the complete opposite side of the spectrum where you have to tell an athlete 3 words—”Suck it up.”

What advice do athletes hesitate to listen to?

Athletes do not want to hear that they are injured and having to sit out. Or, even worse, hearing that their season is probably over.  Telling an athlete that their season is over has to be one of the hardest part of the job. You know how much the athletes have invested in the sport and their teammates, and how much that can hurt to hear even if it is the best decision.

What modalities do you use in the training room?

I am not a big modality guy. We have access to ultrasound, stim, and other devices. There is a new trend with the foam rolling and rolling out on lacrosse balls. We teach athletes how to use these tools properly and effectively.

What is your favorite part about working with athletes on a daily basis?

It helps me feel young. You get to learn from them and they learn from you.

But one of the best parts of the job is seeing athletes be successful.  When you have an athlete who has been injured and then you get to see them return to the sport, it is the most rewarding thing.  As an athletic trainer, you don’t do this job for the accolades and praise. You do it to see the smile of an athlete doing what they love.

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athletic trainer tips

When an athlete gets injured, the person bridging the gap between the athlete and return to play is ultimately the athletic trainer. But, with so many athletes to take care of, it’s often difficult to devote enough time to each one. Dr. Kelly Starrett, DPT has some tips to help support athletic trainers in efficiently getting their athletes onto the right path in the recovery process.

“If you’re not physically ahead of swelling within 12-24 hours, you’re behind in the healing process.”

How Tissues Heal

When looking at improving the tissue healing phases, we need to understand that first and foremost, graded movement is the answer. Active recovery is a necessary factor for optimally improving each stage of the process. During the inflammatory stage, movement helps remove the congestion by activating the lymphatic system. For the proliferation and maturation stage, tissues need to be continuously loaded with low grade movement so the collagen fibers know how to align and don’t seal out of scar formation and adhere between the layers of those sliding surfaces.

Marc Pro: Your Training Room Assistant

Marc Pro’s proprietary technology creates non-fatiguing muscle contractions to provide the low-grade movement that is ideal for improving the recovery process. Athletic trainers utilize Marc Pro in the training room, on the road, or as a tool that athletes can bring home to use independently. Kelly Starrett has found that Marc Pro is particularly useful for the following reasons:

“It’s like having another set of hands in the training room. We can treat more athletes faster with the Marc Pro.”

– Pat Giruzzi, ATC Hamilton College

Taking NSAIDs out of the Equation

If we can get ahead of the inflammatory response, pain signals are often attenuated since the tissues aren’t as angry, congested, and swollen. Using Marc Pro allows athletic trainers to get ahead of the swelling, without having to deal with the limiting factors of the usual mechanisms for managing pain, such as ice or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Marc Pro doesn’t blunt the response, so athletes can get maximum proliferation. It allows athletes to decongest, and more importantly remodel. The brain can stay plugged in since we don’t have some of the inhibitory mechanisms secondary to the swelling. Athletes don’t loose any mass or neuromuscular connections, so we have to do a lot less to get things turned back on. Once athletes are ready to return to play, Marc Pro can be used on the new tissues that are being challenged to make sure they stay in healthy condition.

Getting in enough time with each athlete can be difficult. Marc Pro allows athletic trainers to get more treatment into athletes, even when they’re not in the training room. ATCs can do their focus treatment and then hand Marc Pro to an athlete and get them to manage the healing process and facilitate the body’s natural processes independently. The easy to use pads and comfort of the device mean that compliance is high and athletes can use it for hours a day, if needed.  

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Athletic Trainer Spotligth | Carla Gilson of Georgia Tech

Timothy Clark, Assistant Athletic Director for Sports Medicine at California Baptist University, shares the personal fulfillment he’s found with a career in athletic training.

What initially attracted you to athletic training?

california baptist university

Since the 8th or 9th grade, I knew that I wanted to be an athletic trainer. I grew up in upstate New York, and have always been into athletics. My godfather was an athletic trainer with the New York Islanders Hockey Team, and I always thought it was so cool to see him running on the ice to take care of the players. I knew that was what I wanted to do. I wanted to be around athletes.

I have now been a certified athletic trainer for 25 years—since 1993.

What is your philosophy in regards to athletic training?

Simply be aggressive. Be aggressive with treatments and rehab. You want to get the athletes back quicker. Back on the field, back on the ice, back to play. Finding ways to encourage faster and more effective healing is important.

What sports do you typically work with at California Baptist University?

I work with both men’s basketball and the cheer and dance team.

What injuries do you typically experience with cheer and dance?

You see everything with cheer and dance. The team is very competitive and the women are pushing their bodies to the limits.

We see all types of injuries—ankle, knees, dislocated shoulders, concussions. You name it, our cheer team has been through it.

What injuries do you typically experience with basketball?

We see a lot of injuries in basketball too. Ankle injuries, ACL, low backs, stress fractures.

What shifts have you seen in athletic training throughout the years?

california baptist university

There has been a lot of buzz with the ice controversy. Do you ice an injury or not?

While there has been a lot of talk about icing, there has also been a shift in overall thinking. When I speak to other trainers about not icing, there has not been much push back about not using ice as much for treatment.

I have changed my own practices over the years. Ice is no longer my “go-to” thing. I think it is important to flush out the area and allow the inflammatory process to take place. I want to help an injury run through the appropriate course and not inhibit the process.

What is the most difficult aspect about being an athletic trainer?

The hours that we work can be extremely long. We are not on a typical 9am-5pm schedule. There are nights, weekends, holidays. Plus, there are many additional demands that are placed on us. You have to love what you do and be passionate about the job.

What advice do athletes hesitate to listen to?

Athletes don’t want to hear that they can’t play. That is not what an athlete wants to hear.  But if you have a good relationship with an athlete, they trust you and will listen when you say that taking a step back is the best option to get back to play faster.

How were you introduced to the Marc Pro?

I was the Head Trainer of the Anaheim Ducks Ice Hockey team. One day, Gary Reinl came into our training room with the Marc Pro. He told me about the benefits of the devices and it didn’t take long before the players were loving the devices too.

When I left the Ducks and went to CBU, I brought a Marc Pro with me. We have been using them at CBU ever since.

“It helps get athletes back to what they love to do faster. It is an amazing tool for the rehab treatment process.”

How many Marc Pros do you have at the university?

We have 5 to 6 units now at CBU.

What is your Marc Pro protocol at your school?

We keep the Marc Pro in the training room. We try to use the devices before and after practices with the athletes.  The standard for athlete use is 15 minutes before practice and then 15 minutes after practice. I find that using the Marc Pro is a good base for other rehab activities. I can use the machine and then follow up with massage and rolling. I also travel with the Marc Pro because it is so portable for on the road.

What do your athletes like best about the Marc Pro?

The athletes like that they feel it working. You can see the muscle working. You can see swelling leave the area. You can visually see what is going on. Plus, the athletes say that they feel better as soon as they get off the machine.

How has the Marc Pro helped you and your team in the training room?

It helps by doing what it is designed to do. It helps the treatment process. It helps get athletes back to what they love to do faster. It is an amazing tool for the rehab treatment process

What is your favorite part about working with athletes on a daily basis?

Seeing athletes progress is tremendous. And, I love the environment with the athletes. I love the type of people the athletes are too.  We have good kids at this school, and I get to work with them everyday.

When athletes are happy, we, as athletic trainers, are happy. Being part of the process of keeping an athlete healthy or helping them return to their sport is extremely rewarding.

What advice would you give to athletes about recovery?

Do it as much as you can. Recovery is something that we are continuing to do more research on. The more you recover, the more you can push the next day.

Joel Luedke, Director of Athletic Training & Sports Performance at University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, relays the shift towards movement-based injury prevention protocols in sports medicine.

university of wisconsin-la crosse

What initially attracted you to athletic training?

I didn’t know what an athletic trainer was in high school, but I knew that I wanted to do something in the kinesiology field when I was in college. At freshman orientation at the University of Wisconsin—Madison, I heard about athletic training. I liked that it tied in medicine and sports, and I decided to move forward with athletic training as my major. Plus, I got to avoid organic chemistry! 

I started taking courses and then got into the athletic training program during my junior year. During my clinical time, I worked with football, women’s volleyball, wrestling, and high school teams.

What is your philosophy in regards to athletic training?

My philosophy has evolved over time. I like to think of myself as a ‘jack of all trades’ that is always adding to my toolbox to help with injuries and recovery. I have focused on both soft tissue work and rehab, and different ways to address athletes’ issues.

What sports do you typically work with? 

I have worked mostly with football for the last 5 years. With football, we have had ankle injuries, shoulder injuries, AC joint separations, shoulder soreness, and hamstring strains.

What shifts have you seen in athletic training throughout the years?

There has been a huge shift to incorporating soft tissue work with athletes. There also is now a lot more movement-based tools and protocols to encourage athletes to move and rehab.

We now also focus on how to identify the root cause of chronic injuries and think about why the injury actually taking place as opposed to just treating the symptoms. We ask the questions about why certain areas of the body are weak and look at a more global view of why an injury is taking place.

What is the most difficult aspect about being an athletic trainer?

It is difficult to dedicate enough time to each individual. You want to give an athlete all of your time, but with so many athletes and limited resources, that is not possible.

What advice do athletes hesitate to listen to?

Recovery. Focusing on sleep and regeneration. Spending time on rolling out and helping the body recover. Athletes tend to avoid the things that are not the most fun or exciting. However, recovery is some of the most important work an athlete can do.

How were you introduced to the Marc Pro?

I am a big fan of Kelly Starrett and his soft tissue mobility ideas. On Kelly Starrett’s page, I saw a video featuring Gary Reinl and Mark Bell where they discussed the Marc Pro and why you shift away from icing as a recovery tool. A lightbulb went off in my head when I heard Gary describe why icing may not be the best protocol for injuries and I read Gary’s book.

Starting to learn more about icing, I began to challenge my own mindset about the effectiveness of using ice. I had the chance to speak with Gary and learned more about the logic of avoiding ice with treatment.

We were taught to use ice in school. When I thought about the “why” of why do we use ice, I couldn’t answer that question fully.

How many Marc Pros do you have at the university?

We have 3 units at our school and want more. We are looking at other avenues to get more so we can use more units for recovery, and not just injuries.

What is your Marc Pro protocol at your school?                         

We keep our Marc Pros in the training room and tell athletes that they need to be hooked up to the device for a minimum of 30 minutes to experience the benefits.

What do your athletes like best about the Marc Pro?

It has been quite the process to get athletes away from ice. We explain the physiological components of swelling and then athletes begin to understand moving away from icing.

For example, we had two athletes with dislocated elbows, which yielded a lot of swelling. With the Marc Pro, the swelling with these injuries was significantly reduced and these athletes could start rehab protocols much sooner.

How has the Marc Pro helped you and your team in the training room?

Utilizing the Marc Pro for injuries has allowed us to incorporate and add more active recovery protocols and move away from passive modalities.

What is your favorite part about working with athletes on a daily basis?

It is amazing to see what athletes can accomplish by doing the little things that can help them become very successful. Being a part of an athlete returning to the field after a major injury is an incredible part of this profession.

What advice would you give to athletes about recovery?

Make it a focus. Make sure to train smarter, and not just harder. Don’t short change recovery and truly make it a priority. 

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Athletic Trainer for the University of Buffalo, Andy Bliz, discusses his philosophy for getting athletes back on the court faster and why movement is the best medicine for a speedy recovery. 

university of buffaloWhat initially attracted you to athletic training?

I have always been involved in sports. In high school, I played football, wrestled and did track and field. When I first started college, I started in the nursing program, but I gravitated more towards athletic training.

I completed my undergraduate clinical education at Western Michigan University with a degree in Athletic Training. Through my clinical hours, I rotated with many different sports. I went to graduate school at Eastern Michigan University and received my Master’s Degree in Sports Management.

What is your philosophy in regards to athletic training?

I believe that athletes need to get the blood flowing and the lymph system pumping.  With faster recovery, athletes can return to play much quicker than doing RICE.

What sports do you typically work with?

I work primarily with the men’s basketball team at the University at Buffalo. I travel everywhere the team goes, and our main travel months are from November through the end of March. We also have off-season practice and conditioning throughout the year, so I am constantly working with the players.

What shifts have you seen in athletic training throughout the years?

The biggest shift has been from rest to movement. It used to be that you would cast ACLs, now you get them moving quicker. With ankle sprains we know getting the ankle doing rehab quicker pays off. There has been a shift away from just resting with injuries. Instead, the new focus is that tomorrow is day one of recovery and rehab.

university of buffaloWhat is the most difficult aspect about being an athletic trainer?

There is a huge time commitment with athletic training. Also, you have to manage the athlete’s drive to compete in an unsafe environment. Sometimes you have to slow an athlete down from running through the brick wall with injuries. As an athletic trainer, you have to ensure that a player is practicing and competing safely.

How were you introduced to the Marc Pro?

Initially, I heard about the device when I was at Michigan State. When I arrived at UB, I had the opportunity to get one new thing for the training room. I contacted Gary Reinl and purchased a Marc Pro.

What are your thoughts about the “Ice Age”?

I try to stay away from icing injuries as much as possible. I read Gary’s book, “Iced!: The Illusionary Treatment Option.” The concepts that Gary discusses, sparked my interest and confirmed some of my ideas. I was able to learn more about ice and how it can hinder recovery instead of promoting it. Now, I primarily use ice to cool the water down for Gatorade.

How many Marc Pros do you have at the university?

We have 6 to 7 units total at University at Buffalo.

What is your Marc Pro protocol at the University at Buffalo?

We keep the units in the training room and keep each athlete hooked up to the device for 20 to 30 minutes at a time. If an athlete’s schedule permits, then we encourage them to be hooked up to the device for longer.

I also travel with a Marc Pro so I can set players up with it during bus rides and in hotel rooms.

We sometimes will send athletes home with a Marc Pro unit, but only in rare circumstances. We tell athletes to use the Marc Pro at home for at least 2 to 3 hours at a time and recommend that they sleep with the device running too.

university of buffaloWhat do your athletes like best about the Marc Pro?

The athletes like that they feel recovered and looser than before a treatment.

How has the Marc Pro helped you and your team in the training room?

The Marc Pro allows us to setup athletes to get recovered quickly. An athlete’s joints might not be moving really well when they first come into the training room do to any swelling and edema, but after using the Marc Pro, they feel looser and the joint less stiff. This makes rehab more functional and appropriate than keeping an athlete on a training room table doing ABCs.

What is your favorite part about working with athletes on a daily basis?

My favorite part of the job is helping an athlete get back on the court post-injury. Seeing an athlete run after a major injury or back on the field after surgery is the best feeling.

What advice would you give to athletes about recovery?

Be active. The worst thing athletes can do is to not be active when they are sore. Heading for a jog or spinning on the bike can help flush out the body when you are sore.  Athletes also need to sleep at least 7 to 8 hours and fuel with the proper nutrition.

Continue Reading…

Why RICE is Outdated & What you Should do Instead

Athletic Trainer Spotlight | Ron Linfonte of St. John’s University

Kenny Wilka, Associate Athletic Trainer at Marquette University, talks about the positive shift towards focusing on the long-term health of each athlete, and not just their four years in college.

marquette universityWhat initially attracted you to athletic training?

I played baseball and football in college and had injuries treated by the athletic training staff. I thought the field and duties of the profession were interesting. I liked the hands-on aspect of the profession and the constant activity. Plus, athletic training melded with how I learn, practical application of knowledge. Through my athletic training internship, I worked with many different sports, and also learned the ancillary aspects of the profession.

What is your philosophy in regards to athletic training?

Through my experiences, I have learned that you need to evolve. There is a constant evolution of what you are trying to accomplish. I use a holistic approach that includes the physical, mental, and emotional components of an athlete.

In regards to injuries, I try to promote the healing process during recovery. You do not want to trick the body and return too quickly, otherwise there can be issues in the future.

As athletic trainers, we can have a different outlook than coaches. While some coaches might want healing to happen fast, we want healing to be as fast and as safe as possible. We are invested in the athlete’s long-term health and overall wellness.

What sports do you typically work with?

I work primarily with women’s soccer. I like it because I get to work with 32 athletes individually, learn about each of them, and find the methods that work best for every person.

What shifts have you seen in athletic training throughout the years?

The biggest thing is that we now focus on athletes as patients. We look at the long-term effects of our decisions, instead of just thinking about an athlete’s time in college for four years.

We also do a much better job of being advocates for student-athletes and promoting safe and effective ways to treat and promote healing.

marquette universityWhat is the most difficult aspect about being an athletic trainer?

A lot of people will say that there are long hours and long days– that is normal in the service-oriented fields. For me, a 10-hour day goes by fast because I enjoy it.

You create bonds with student-athletes so when they are going through difficult times, you feel it. That can drain you emotionally, especially when you have to have tough conversations with athletes.

I worked with a soccer player who was extremely talented, but could not play many games due to constant injury. We had to have one of those conversations.  Sometimes you have to be the bearer of bad news.  The news that is career-ending for an athlete, but in the best interest of the athlete for the long-term.

What are your thoughts about icing?

Icing for athletic trainers has always been done, but may not be an effective tool depending on what you want to accomplish. We are supposed to be promoting healing, and phase 1 of healing process is the inflammatory phase. Everyone says that inflammation is bad, but you are not promoting the natural healing process by trying to inhibit it. I also explain that we want to promote increased circulation, to remove the exudate from the area while increasing nutrient rich blood to the injured tissue.

How many Marc Pros do you have at the university?

We have about 26 units, and the soccer team bought 8 for the team’s use only.

After using the Marc Pro at other schools, I introduced it to Marquette University. I like the device because it promotes blood flow increasing the body’s ability to heal or recover.

Initially, I bought a couple of units and used them with pitchers, and the athletes immediately bought into it. They felt the difference in how fast they were recovering and the devices were constantly being used by the athletes.

What is your Marc Pro protocol at Marquette University?

We teach the athletes how to use Marc Pro devices for individual injuries and recovery. Athletes learn that you place the electrode pads where you get the best contraction possible.

Our athletes can also check out units. Our rule is, if you have it, you have to use it. We don’t want Marc Pros being left for hours without being used. We also have a Marc Pro “GroupMe” chat so athletes can share when they are passing off the Marc Pro devices to other athletes so that they are always being used.

What do your athletes like best about the Marc Pro?

The invaluable recovery. Athletes can use the Marc Pro for 8 to 10 hours while sleeping, allowing them to maximize their recovery time.

How has the Marc Pro helped you?

I travel with 8 units and I am able to treat acute injuries right away. I can help athletes recover better in a smarter and faster way.

What is your favorite part about working with athletes on a daily basis?

The relationship building. I love watching my athletes go through the range of motion of success—determination and growth. They learn from mistakes and learn how to increase their focus.

People often do not experience enough failure when they are successful. It is easy to be a winner. It’s what you do when things are hard and you have to pick yourself up.  What are you going to do next when things are difficult?

What advice would you give to athletes about recovery?

Listen to your body and provide what it needs. You need to be hydrated, eat clean food that is not overly processed and sleep 8 hours a night.

Some days you can’t perform at a higher workload than other days—it doesn’t mean that you are not giving 100%. My biggest advice is just learning how to take care of yourself. I am here to be a self-advocate for an athlete’s body. I want athletes to be able to ask questions and learn why they should be doing things to help the body function properly.

You may also be interested in reading these athletic trainer interviews:

Ronald Linfonte of St. John’s University

Brandon Aiken of the University of South Carolina Aiken

Pat Giruzzi of Hamilton College

David McDonald, Head Athletic Trainer of UNF Sports Medicine Department, shares how he found fulfillment and camaraderie through his career in college athletics. 

university of north florida

Could you share about your career in athletic training?

My whole family was in the medical profession, and I was always around athletic trainers throughout high school.

I went to college to play soccer and during my freshman year, I had a stress fracture where I was out for a full season, and I then transferred to Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Oklahoma State had athletic training as a major, and I found that as a better fit than pursuing a business degree.

I’ve been fortunate in my career to work at a lot of great schools with great staffs. From Texas, Oregon, Chicago, and now Florida, I would not trade my experiences for anything as they have made me who I am both personally and professionally.

What is your philosophy in regards to athletic training?

Being a servant overall– you are serving student-athletes and providing them with quality healthcare. You need to be able to coordinate things quickly with doctors, coaches, and athletes.

You also need to deliver the best care to athletes as quickly and safely as possible. We never put a student-athlete back on the field if they are not ready.

What sports do you typically work with?

I am the Department Head overall, with over 19 sports at our school. I mainly work with men’s basketball and men’s golf.

What are the typical injuries in golf and basketball?

In golf, we see a lot of hip and back injuries. In basketball, we mainly see ankle, knee, and back injuries.

What shifts have you seen in athletic training throughout the years?

There is more of a focus on recovery now, with finding the latest recovery tools and integrating manual therapies.

What is the most difficult aspect about being a trainer?

The time away from family. I have a two-year old son, so being away from him can be extremely tough when I am gone for three to four days at a time. I travel with men’s basketball mostly from November through March, but there is work with all of our student athletes year round, so my staff and I are always working to help them get better.

How were you introduced to the Marc Pro?

When I was at Oregon State University, I had a few complicated cases. One case was with a women’s volleyball player. She had hip issues, low back issues, and could not stay healthy. I was trying to figure out what to do to help this athlete, and I was looking at other recovery mediums online.  I came across the Marc Pro on the internet and reached out. I had a 2-hour conversation with Gary Reinl from the Marc Pro team who sent me a 3-month Marc Pro loaner to try.

I hooked the volleyball player up to the Marc Pro, and at this time, she was very frustrated. She had already worked with trainers and physical therapists.  She kept the Marc Pro on for four hours and then said to me, “I have never felt like this before.” She was so excited and happy. Her parents even said, “Thank you so much for what you did with her.”  I knew that something must be working with the Marc Pro.

What is your favorite part about working with athletes on a daily basis?

The relationships. The camaraderie of college athletics. I always say that I have never left college– I graduated, but never left the atmosphere of college.

The athletes are my kids. From former athletes having amazing success at the professional level to ones that went professional in something other than sports, staying in touch with them is the best part.

What advice would you give to athletes about recovery?

Do it frequent, do it often, do what’s comfortable. Have an open mind towards it. With any new modality and technique, there is skepticism, but you have to have an open mind towards it because you don’t know what will work for you.

You have to do regular maintenance on your body and fuel it properly, just like a car. Listen to your body and take care of it.

More interviews from athletic trainers you may be interested in:

Ron Linfonte of St. John’s University

Pat Giruzzi of Hamilton College

technology has revolutionized athletic training By Vanessa from WODshop

Everyday there are new advances in sports and technology. This has changed the way athletes eat, train and recover on a daily basis. Here are 5 different ways technology has revolutionized athletic training.

Tracking Technology

Having the ability to track and measure athletic performance has given researchers new insights about sports in its entirety. Understanding the reactions a body has during high intensity training has allowed more effective training methods to emerge. “Imagine driving a Formula One vehicle and not having a dashboard to know how that engine is performing,” says Gary McCoy, applied sports scientist for Catapult USA. Tracking technology includes devices like pedometers, heart rate monitors, body fat calculators and more!


Have you ever gone into a gym and felt lost looking at a room filled with different machines? Don’t be intimidated! They will benefit you in the long run. Researchers have been able to create different machines designed specifically to tone and strengthen certain muscles. Even something as simple as a jump rope has been revolutionized to be lighter, thinner and faster to increase performance training.

technology has revolutionized athletic training


Latest studies show that improvement and strength gains come during the recovery phase, while your body repairs muscle breakdown that happens during training. Devices like the Marc Pro stimulate active recovery and make sure that you fully recover faster.

Access to Training Programs

The Internet has given athletes unlimited access to online strength and training programs. From simple spreadsheets to personalized daily programs, athletes have hundreds of different training options available at their fingertips!


Athletic training happens 365 days a year. Improvements in clothing technology has allowed brands to offer apparel that is made specifically for training. Warm gear, dry gear, compression gear, you name it! These new technologies are designed to improve performance in different conditions without hindering movement.