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  • Writer's pictureDr. Alex Tapplin

Injury Prevention

As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Injury prevention tactics can take a general but smart strength and conditioning (S&C) approach as well as an individualized rehabilitation approach. I will share with you a couple examples of how these two approaches may help you prevent seeing someone like me.

When talking about injury prevention, the first step is identifying the risk factors for the injury or problem you’re trying to prevent. Then, addressing those risk factors to reduce the risk. It’s simple, but not easy.

As an example, a S&C program for tactical athletes was implemented in Washington state and documented millions of dollars saved on work related injuries (low back pain ranking high), simply by improving strength standards with a few staple exercises like squatting and deadlifting. In other words, a general but smart strength and conditioning approach remedies a host of general risk factors for low back pain as well as other traumatic and non-traumatic injuries.

Continuing with low back pain as an example; an individualized rehabilitation approach would look for the individual’s low back pain risk factors. Previous back pain is the number one risk factor for future back pain. Other physical risk factors include common movement faults that individuals with low back pain may demonstrate. The ability to hinge, squat, and control the trunk and hips as well as muscular imbalances and specific joint stiffness as a few examples.

Using non-traumatic shoulder pain as another example: The most common diagnosis for this presentation in the tactical athlete is shoulder impingement. Again, previous injury is the biggest risk factor. If you went through a rehabilitation program for that problem in the past, you should be implementing those individualized strategies into your S&C program for prevention. The general physical risk factors for shoulder impingement include thoracic spine stiffness, shoulder blade stability weakness/control, specific area of shoulder stiffness, trunk/core weakness and of course shoulder control through multiple planes of movement.

Here are two examples; low back pain and shoulder pain, where an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The prevention is primarily driven by a smart strength and conditioning solution with specific and individualized needs based on previous injury or individual impairments.

This article was initially written for a group of tactical athletes for Brent Miller, owner and strength coach at TNT Fitness in Menasha. I’ve been fortunate to collaborate with Brent and TNT for several years now as we seamlessly move athletes and professionals from injury to optimal performance. If you have specific injury or pain questions, feel free to contact me at

Alex Tapplin, DC, CSCS, CCSP

Sports Medicine Specialist & Chiropractor

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