Saturday, March 24, 2018

My Comprehensive Athlete Assessment

Years and years ago (like....um....20 years ago) I had this awesome health teacher in high school named Tiffany Gust. I always admired how personable she was and her ability to engage students - definitely not an easy task with teenagers.

Tiffany is now an exercise physiologist at Intermountain Health Care in their St. George, Utah Health and Performance Center. I was psyched when she said they were starting up a new comprehensive athlete assessment program called the Sports Performance Package, and she asked if I would be their guinea pig to test the program out.

The program was designed for all athletes of any age or athletic level with the purpose of improving performance and preventing injuries. When they said "comprehensive" they weren't exaggerating. Here is the testing I did, my results, and their recommendations:

A comprehensive lab panel
I'll fully admit that I'm a GIGANTIC baby when it comes to needles. I have a bad reputation for passing out. So I was pretty proud of myself for not passing out with this lab draw. The assessment checked a CBC, CMP, cholestorol, thyroid functioning, vitamin B12, vitamin D, testosterone/estrogen hormones, Ferritin, and Cortisol. The lab draw was the first thing we did, and most results were back fast enough for the doctor to review them with me. I learned that my vitamin B12 and vitamin D were low, both of which can effect athletic performance so I've started taking those supplements.

Fitness Assessments
There were lots of tests that were part of the functional movement screening including a push-up test, sit-up test, wall-sit test, and sit-and-reach test. There was also a functional movement screening which helps identify weak areas that could be problem areas for potential injuries. My results in most of these: I SUCK. I had many weaknesses including core strength, hips, and glutes: all critical areas for runners. Fortunately they gave me conditioning exercises specifically geared toward improving my weaknesses.

Bod Pod
This test helps determine body composition and the ratio of fat to muscle. This won't come as too much of a surprise, but it would be helpful for me to eat a few less Hostess cupcakes and eat a few more carrots. WHY can't someone genetically modify carrots to taste like Hostess cupcakes??? Why!?!

VO2 Test
This test helps measure cardiovascular fitness and aerobic endurance. My score of 45.5 put me in the excellent range here, but with some speed work and interval training (which I do basically none of), I might be able to move up to the superior range. I learned about my metabolic rate and how many calories my body burns during resting and during exercise.

Dietitian Consultation
Prior to my appointment, I had to keep a food and liquid journal for three days. It was slightly embarrassing to have "Costco Cheesecake" on my food log for every single one of those days. I told Mel not to buy Costco cheesecake anymore because if it's in my refrigerator, I'm morally obligated to eat it. My dietitian Christie Benton reviewed my logs and said I need more protein and to drink more water. She also gave me personalized meal plans to help meet my targets.

Physician Consultation
The final part of the Comprehensive Sports Performance Evaluation was meeting with Dr. Rhett Frei. He reviewed all my labs and made sure everything was in working order. Things like hormone levels and vitamin deficiencies can have a big impact on functioning. He also reviewed my running history and the longstanding problems I've had with my knees. His evaluation found that my knee problems stem from weak hips, weak VMO muscles, and weak Gluteus Medius muscles. What I really appreciated is that they gave me specific things to do to get these areas on track.

This whole process took nearly five hours. I feel like they looked at every level of my functioning and fitness. And beyond just figuring out areas that needed improvement, they actually told me what to do about it. 

I wanted to give a few months of putting things into practice before I gave an accurate write-up of my experience there. Since my visit with them I've done the stretching and strengthening exercises they recommended. I made some adjustments with my diet. (I did not remove cheesecake or Dr. Pepper from my diet.) I started taking the vitamin supplements they recommended. And I feel better. I feel stronger. I still have LOTS of room for improvement. Despite having pretty good endurance, I still have lots of problem areas to work on for injury prevention. But it's nice to know the steps I can take to get better.

If you'd like more information or to schedule an appointment, call 435-251-3793 or check out their link HERE

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