After treating athletes of all levels for 20 years including my own children, I have noticed a major problem and common theme especially in the middle school to high school athletes. The problem is that no one ever looks at the complete biomechanical structure of the young athlete. No one ever looks at their Structural Fingerprint® (see Figure 2). No one looks at the athlete as a whole.

All individuals have unique biomechanics that are influenced by genetics and will affect the many different activities, sports, and traumas we endure. The imbalances originate in the feet. There follows a domino effect going up the structure of the human body and creating compensatory sites of increased mechanical loading (abnormal weight bearing), which will predictably cause involved joints, tendons and muscles to wear out prematurely.

These imbalances also increase the young athlete’s vulnerability for mmediate injuries. Our goal should be to identify these sites sooner rather than later and to begin proactively to make adjustments and improvements to reduce the degree of breakdown over the course of a young athlete’s life.

Although these sites do not have to be symptomatic, symptoms are often associated with these imbalances. These young athletes must be examined prior to the upcoming season for their sports, but the currently used mandatory preseason exams are too often more ceremonial than informative. This is because so many kids need to be examined in such brief periods of time. A cough here and a lean forward there…and it doesn’t take much for a kid to be labeled healthy.

In addition, the currently used exam looks primarily at eyes, ears, nose, and throat. Although the structural component of the athlete (his or her musculoskeletal system, or biomechanics) is the true at-risk system, no one looks at any part of the musculoskeletal system in these preseason exams.

It is also a fact that, although musculoskeletal breakdown and degeneration is the leading cause of disability over the age of 50 in the U.S., we’re not planning ahead for our young athletes.

We’re not taking advantage of the once-a-year exam opportunity for student athletes. We’re not giving them any biomechanical information. That’s why they’re unable to proactively work on improving their biomechanics. This, combined with a more physically demanding high school athletic schedule, will surely create worse statistics and greater costs for these young athletes 30 years from now.

The current scenario of the family doctor visit when injured usually leads to either taking the athlete out of his/her sport for two weeks or referring him/her to the orthopedist. The major problem with this scenario, which plays out hundreds of times every day, is that no one ever looks at the complete biomechanical structure of the young athlete. Injuries are not corrected or healed properly which leads to further injury or other injuries. My goal is to change that and not only help our young athletes perform better, but also prevent injury before symptoms happen, or correct symptomatic areas by optimizing their own biomechanics. By evaluating the athlete structurally from head to toe, we can then make recommendations to correct the true problem if necessary.

I understand this concept may be foreign or new to many parents and that is why I have attached a flier that includes an opportunity to bring in your child athlete for a complimentary structural fingerprint exam and other discounts. I look forward to helping our young athletes in the community. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions. (drjurack@mhwc.net)