What is an Athletic Trainer?

In 1995, I graduated from Seattle Pacific University with a bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science having an emphasis in athletic training. To become an athletic trainer (ATC), one must attend an accredited, professional athletic-training education program and then pass a comprehensive test administered by the Board of Certification. To remain certified, ongoing continuing education is a must.

I had athletic training experience with Seattle Pacific University’s athletes: men’s soccer, women’s and men’s basketball, women’s volleyball, gymnastics, and cheerleading. I facilitated as an athletic trainer at football games as well.

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My function as an ATC includes services that comprise prevention, emergency care, clinical diagnosis, therapeutic intervention and rehabilitation of injuries and medical conditions. As a health care professional in this field, I collaborate with physicians.

Working as an athletic trainer encouraged me to pursue acupuncture once I realized the efficacy of Chinese medicine in the treatment of orthopedic disorders. Acupuncture and modern medicine, when used together, have the potential to support, strengthen and nurture the body towards health and it’s well being.

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I have found the ability to assess orthopedic conditions using modern biomedical evaluation to pinpoint the exact site of an orthopedic lesion and using traditional Chinese medical diagnostic techniques helpful when creating treatment protocols.

Acupuncture can bring about healing by controlling or eliminating pain, reducing swelling and inflammation, and circulating nourishing blood flow to the area of injury and imbalance. Many theories in scientific research abound as to how acupuncture works—not to be expanded upon here—but the advantage for an athlete occurs in their healing without the use of pharmaceuticals and their dangerous side affects.

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What is Sports Medicine Certified?

In September of 2017, I completed and became certified in the most advanced Sports Medicine Acupuncture Certification (SMAC) program that is available to acupuncturists. The 240 hours of intense training complements and aligns with my degree and my training as a National Certified Athletic Trainer.

The SMAC combines proven and successful integrative Eastern and Western approaches to assessing, diagnosing, and treating musculoskeletal pain. As a Sports Medicine Acupuncture graduate, I must maintain continuing educational training which includes the most evolved and up-to-date research and development, enhanced assessment and treatment techniques; all of which enables me to use tested applications in my clinic as a SMAC practitioner.

Sports Medicine Acupuncture has been described as a revolutionary method of treatment incorporating principles from both Western Sports Medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). As a truly integrated system, the combination of both can help relieve pain in as little as one treatment, but the goal remains to ascertain the “root of the problem” by addressing the structural, postural, and muscle weakness problems driving the symptoms.

Just because the title “Sports Medicine” initially focused on athletes, it’s principles apply to ALL types of musculoskeletal pain. SMAC comprehensive methods help align and retrain the body to function properly; thus removing the cause of chronic pain and injuries.

For example, suppose you arrive at my clinic complaining of chronic hip and low back pain. Nothing in the past has helped you: Orthopedic examinations are inconclusive, painkillers, steroid shots, physical therapy and massage haven’t helped you. Maybe even hip or spine surgery may have been suggested to you.

I might begin my investigation by performing Western orthopedic tests, including manual muscle testing. I may have you perform functional tests for further assessment. All of this, along with observing your posture, helps me assess and diagnose you using both TCM and Western methodologies.

After completing a full assessment, your treatment may consist of correcting postural and strength issues with exercise to help improve balance, strength, and alignment. Diet changes might be directed to help reduce inflammation and pain. Of course, the select use of muscle motor points and acupuncture points, to balance the sinew channels (unique to Sports Medicine Acupuncture), are applied. Your overall comprehensive treatment and combined assessment will be guided to bring about successful and long-lasting results, not just symptom relief.

Follow up treatments are needed to completely resolve your pain, prevent further injury to your hip and low back in the long term, all designed to bring about your healing and to aid in keeping you pain free.