July 01, 2019

SLU AT Student Appreciates Professional Sports Clinical Experience with St. Louis FC

SLU AT Clinical Site Spotlight - St. Louis Football Club
By: Claire Ditman (MAT Class of 2020)

This summer I had the incredible opportunity to work with St. Louis Football Club, a professional soccer team in the United Soccer League located in Fenton, MO. My dream setting would be in the professional realm somewhere, even if it is not soccer, so this was the perfect opportunity for me to spend the summer gaining experience in the care and treatment of professional athletes. Although it is similar to collegiate athletes in some ways, it is also drastically different. This is their career and how they make a living, so the way in which injuries are approached and treated is much different.
I have the pleasure of work with and learning from STLFC Head Athletic Trainer Jake Tanner, MS, ATC, LAT from Mercy Sports Medicine. We spend the majority of the time at training session and games preparing the athletes beforehand through many different soft tissue techniques such as massage, trigger point release, positional release therapy, and active release techniques. This has been different than previous experience I have had where manual techniques were not utilized. However, it has allowed me to gain both experience and an understanding of the importance of these techniques and how they can greatly benefit athletes. 

Another domain that is largely reflected at STLFC is rehabilitation, specifically using corrective exercises to improve how the athletes moves in hope of preventing further injury. Almost every athlete on the team has 5-15 exercises, depending on their health status, they complete every day before training. They also do “pre-hab” as a team which consists of 3-5 corrective movements that are put together by the Athletic Training staff and the Strength and Conditioning Coach in order to improve the athlete’s performance.  Being part of the construction of the exercise programs, as well as, teaching the athletes the proper way to perform them, has greatly increased my knowledge and comfort with rehabilitation.

Along with the clinical skills I am gaining, I am also gaining many professional skills that are necessary when working with any athletes, but specifically those at the professional level. From your appearance to your actions, they are a direct reflection of you and it is important to maintain a high level of professionalism when working at this level.

Students in the Saint Louis University Athletic Training Program have an immersive field experience in the summer between their two professional years in the program. This blog post details a student's reflection on their experience.

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