Power Up: Where You Can Build Strength and Skills

Whether you are an athlete seeking to improve your game, or if you want to gain strength and flexibility, check out AHN Sports Performance. Strength and conditioning specialists work with many sports enthusiasts — from baseball and football to ballet, BMX racing, cricket, running, and gymnastics.

“It is very different from a one-size-fits-all membership gym,” said Frank Velasquez, Jr., ATC, CSCS, director of sports performance for Allegheny Health Network (AHN). “We offer an integrated model of care, creating an individual plan for each person or performing athlete — because there can be very different demands on the body with each sport and position.”

Frank is a certified athletic trainer and certified strength and conditioning specialist. He has worked in professional baseball for 16 years, including nine years with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

His high-performance team includes strength and conditioning specialists, sports physical therapists, athletic trainers, recovery specialists, mental skills coaches, and sports nutritionists.

Clients safely and systematically train to reduce the risk of injury or to enhance performance through:

  • Detailed Initial evaluation and kinetic chain assessment.
  • Strength training and conditioning specific to a sport and position.
  • Speed and agility training.
  • Physical therapy and sports rehabilitation.
  • Recovery services.
  • Sports medicine services.

Focusing on recovery

Physical therapy  or sports rehabilitation is also used by people recovering from an injury, such as a torn ACL or a concussion. The physical therapists and strength specialists work closely with primary care, sports medicine, and orthopaedic physicians.

They treat concussion patients when the adults or teens have overcome their symptoms and are getting ready to return to play. That’s the time for more aggressive therapy, to build up the heart rate, hand-eye coordination, and neuromuscular ability.

“We do specific training for their specific sport, for a gradual return to practice and then play. We have to protect the kids from themselves, so they don’t jump in too soon,” Frank said.

Brain surgery patients are sometimes referred to sports performance when their progress stalls. “We work with them on their strength and see great results,” said Frank.

Off the couch and onto the treadmill

Older adults can regain balance, build strength, and improve their quality of life through age-appropriate strength training programs. “They have some miles on the tires, but through appropriate exercises and consistent effort, they can rise from a chair or walk without a cane or a walker,” said Frank.

The initial evaluation finds out about an individual’s lifestyle, their body, range of motion, and strength. The strength specialists compare notes and make adjustments, depending on the client’s own mindset.

“We can’t want it more than they do,” said Frank. “We work with them one, two, three days a week. They have to be motivated to do home exercises and practice good wellness habits for the other days.

Novel therapies and new technology

AHN Sports Performance clients use some of the latest equipment and technology, which is not widely available in the region. Some is physician recommended, but all is clinically proven to produce good results

These tools can propel your workout and recovery:

  • Alter-G anti-gravity treadmill to ease the impact of running on recovering joints.
  • The Dynavision Reaction Board, to improve reaction times.
  • The Makoto Functional Arena, a 360-degree simulator experience (Bethel Park only).
  • Blood flow restriction cuffs, for post-operative rehabilitation to modify blood flow and increase the benefits of a workout.
  • Cryosauna, which uses rapid cooling to aid in muscle recovery.
  • Vibration therapy units (drums and platforms) to stimulate the nerve signals to the muscles for recovery and strength training.
  • Sequential air compression boots, from toe to hip, to push blood flow toward the heart for recovery.
  • H-Wave low frequency electrical stimulation for pain relief and faster recovery.

“Our staff has a high level of experience and multiple certifications and specialty degrees,” said Frank. “That’s part of what makes us one of the top performance training facilities in the region.”

You can work with the AHN Sports Performance and physical therapy team at the newly opened Wexford Plaza location at 1013 Wexford Plaza Drive off Route 19, and at the Allegheny Sports Complex at Cool Springs in Bethel Park. To make an appointment, call our Wexford location at 724-934-2440 or Cool Springs at 412-437-3001.

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Categories: Medicine and Health Features