West Point, NY. September 2015.Sports medicine specialists from around the world convened at West Point Military Academy to discuss best practices and what is new in the field of sports medicine.
While some things stayed the same, such as attempting to help our athletes recover without surgery, other things changed substantially when compared to our previous approach to athletic injuries.
A significant example of one such recent change is that we will no longer suggest that pronation is a primary cause of athletic injuries. Rather, pronation is a normal physiological movement that varies from athlete to athlete and should not be treated as a dysfunctional movement. Further, the idea that athletic shoes favorably alter pronation, and thus reduce injury, has been abandoned. This is a huge paradigm shift in the world of sports medicine, and fortunately this shift is supported by the available medical literature that was reviewed.
Another powerful step forward (this pun is intended) is the realization that teaching an athlete how to run better can alter their body mechanics in such a way as to reduce certain types of injuries. Heel striking as the favored method of running has been replaced with the need to get the athlete’s foot under their body, by teaching and focusing on a midfoot strike. Again, thankfully, the medical literature supports this as an injury reducer.
Dr. Mark Cucuzzella gave a great talk on how we all need to play, and that movement is medicine for all of us, for our entire lives. Unfortunately, he had to condense what he ordinarily teaches in a 2-day course into a 30-minute talk. Nevertheless, his wisdom was appreciated.
Golden Harper, designer of Altra footwear, was present and tirelessly taught many sports medicine doctors the merits of natural foot positioning, and the importance of allowing the athlete’s feet to function as nature intended with the least amount of interference coming from the footwear.
Jonathon Beverly, editor of Running Times and Runner’s World magazines, was there to capture it all.
Many relationships were formed, and a renewed passion for helping our athletes was deeply palpable.
Perhaps the highlight, of many high points for me personally, was the invitation to speak to the group next year regarding the natural foot health program we offer at NWFA/Correct Toes. Could it get any better? Yes! Next year’s meeting will be held in Portland, Oregon, and I have been asked to help organize and lead the meeting.
If you are a sport medicine provider, we hope to see you in Portland next year.
Until then, have fun, be well, and don’t forget to play each day, no matter your age!
– Dr. Ray McClanahan, DPM
In Left Photo: Dr. Ana, Dr. Ray McClanahan, Dr. Mark Cucuzzella
In Right Photo: Golden Harper (Altra Running Shoes), Dr. Ray McClanahan, Dr. Mark Cucuzzella