Increased awareness around physical therapy helps athletes



Athletes often spend time with Jzyk while recuperating or preparing for competition. Recovery activities include strength training and ice baths.

Once again, sophomore Liam Carmello leaves class to get water. In reality, Carmello is not thirsty. He gets up halfway through every class to stretch his injured back at the request of his physical therapist.

Recovery can be a pain, both physically and mentally, but more student athletes are seeking help because there is less of a stigma around physical therapy.

Caramello is a rower for the high school crew team and is currently getting treatment for a repetitive stress injury in his back.

“Nowadays it is less looked down upon to ask for help. I think people who need physical therapy are actually going instead of trying to tough it out,” Caramello said.

Junior Elizabeth Yamnitsky is a ballerina and knows many people in ballet who also go to physical therapy.

“People are realizing that it works. I think people used to rest and let it go, but now people want to get back to their sports. So, they go to PT to speed up the process,” Yaminitsky said.

Students are not working towards recovery alone. Alex Jzyk, the head athletic trainer at the high school, said that the school’s athletic staff plays an important role in prioritizing athletes’ health.

“The coaches have helped push kids through here and I think that as the program continues to grow, more and more kids realize, ‘Oh, I can get help. I don’t have to just go see my doctor and be told I’m out,’” Jzyk said.

Jzyk and his assistant Jess Montoya work hard to help the more than 40 students that come to see them with injuries each day. The trainers said there are consequences of avoiding professional help.

“You are putting yourself at great risk if you don’t know what’s wrong with you. We’ve had kids in the past that want to push through a stress fracture. A stress fracture turns into a regular fracture, which is a lot more difficult to deal with than a stress injury,” Jzyk said.

Junior Eva Baumann has been going to physical therapy on and off for the past 15 months. Struggling from overuse injuries, Baumann has noticed a change in athletes’ approaches to physical therapy.

“I think, in general, the awareness for injuries has increased. As athletes are getting more serious throughout high school and even at younger ages, they are more prone to getting overuse injuries,” Baumann said.

Fortunately, Baumann’s coaches approached her injury with the mindset of long term success.

“I think I was really lucky that my coaches were super supportive and understand that I have long-term athletic goals and it’s less what matters this game or this season. I want to play for the rest of the season, I want to play for the rest of high school and even into college,” Baumann said.

Baumann goes to POST physical therapy once a week for 30-minute sessions, and she also does exercises at home. Although it isn’t easy, she recommends that other athletes see a physical therapist as well.

“It can sometimes be really frustrating, and it’s definitely time-consuming, but it does help,” Baumann said. “Even if it doesn’t resolve your pain, it is helping you fix muscle imbalances in your body and that will allow you to perform at a higher level. So, if you’re really committed to your athletics, then I do think that it is a good option.”