If you have a student athlete, Dr. Darren Robbins, PT, DPT has some advice: do some preparation before letting them hit the field. That way, you’ll help them avoid injury and stay fit to play. Dr. Robbins is a regional expert on helping athletes prevent injury and recover from injury. A part of his job at Prowers Medical Center is to support community athletes and offer medical support on the sidelines.
“There are steps an athlete needs to take to prepare to play. It starts with passing a medical physical exam and then beginning a strengthening and conditioning program before the season starts,” Robbins said.
To avoid injuries, which are especially common at the start of the season, he advocates applying the “SAID” principle, which stands for Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands. What it means is that an athlete can train their body to work in certain ways.
“Your body will adapt to what you make it do. The more you push it, the more it will be able to do but you have to give it some time, preferably a month or so before the season starts,” he said.
He’s a proponent of cross training and advocates strengthening the whole body, not just the muscles you think you will use most. He uses an example of a baseball pitcher who uses several muscle systems besides his arm including his hips, lower back and thighs.
He also advocates that athletes spend 15 to 20 minutes before practice stretching. Stretching keeps muscles in balance.
“We do a lot to strengthen muscles, but we do very little to lengthen them and keep them flexible. Stretching helps avoid muscle strains and tears,” Robbins said.
He also stresses that kids eat well, get good sleep and stay hydrated throughout the season. He tells his student athletes to eat a banana a day to help avoid muscle cramps—thanks to potassium.
“If kids continue to have severe cramps, I may have them start drinking pickle juice. It’s a trick I learned for serious athletes in my work as an athletic trainer for BYU, particularly from Chad Lewis who went on to play for the Philadelphia Eagles who use pickle juice to avoid cramping in the heat,” he added.
Of course, good equipment that fits well also will help your athlete avoid injury. Robbins finds that all the coaches in town are very responsible at making sure shoes and helmets fit correctly and that pads are the right size to avoid injury.
In his role as athletic trainer, Robbins supports the coaches with injuries and medical questions. As an athletic trainer he tape ankles and gives advice on conditioning, but more importantly, he handles medical emergencies, diagnoses injuries and concussions, provides rehab and recovery plans and help athletes avoid injury.
“While on the sidelines, I make the call on an injury—I determine what’s going on and how severe the injury is and whether or not I should put an athlete back into the game. Parents appreciate that I am there and I can diagnose the problem as it can save them a trip to urgent care or the emergency department. It provides ease of mind for coaches and parents,” he said.
To help even more, Dr. Robbins holds a Bump and Bruise Clinic as needed on Saturday mornings at Prowers Medical Center. That way, he can follow up with his recommendations from the night before and recheck the injury.
“It’s a great service to the community. I attend all the high school football games and as many other games as possible. I also go to some of the college games. I often end up taking care of not only our athletes, but the visiting team as well,” he concludes.
Get to Know Dr. Darren Robbins
Darren M. Robbins, PT, DPT holds a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree. He is also a certified Athletic Trainer and has extensive training in sports medicine. He is originally from San Jose, CA and joined the Prowers Medical Center team in August 2005. Dr. Robbins is married to Amber Hall and they have five children Abby, Brooklyn, Jace, Tank and Izzy. His clinic specialties include orthopedics, wound care and sport-specific training.