What is an Athletic Trainer?

Athletic trainers are often confused with the person that helps you with your workout at the gym, but there are some important differences. The profession is governed by the National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA) whose Board of Certification certifies people who meet the qualification standards to be Athletic Trainer Certified (ATC). The minimum requirements are a four year degree or better in a healthcare related field, 1500 hours of a supervised internship working under a certified athletic trainer performing minimum hours in specified sport settings (one or two settings must be high impact sports such as football or rugby), and passing a rigorous national certification exam.

The NATA defines the profession as:

Athletic training is practiced by athletic trainers, health care professionals who collaborate with physicians to optimize activity and participation of patients and clients. Athletic training encompasses the prevention, diagnosis and intervention of emergency, acute and chronic medical conditions involving impairment, functional limitations and disabilities.

ATC’s are involved in all aspects of sports participation, but there are 3 main areas:

  • Prevention of injuries: This is accomplished with the application of taping and bracing to protect body parts as well as conditioning exercises to make sure the athlete is fit for participation.
  • Immediate care and triage of acute injuries: The people you see on TV during a game running onto the field or court when a player is down are athletic trainers. They are trained in the evaluation and immediate care of injuries and are able to gather valuable information at the time of injury to make decisions on the care of the participant.
  • Rehabilitation of injuries: The last important  aspect of the ATC’s job is to return the athlete to participation safely and efficiently. They are trained in rehabilitative techniques and exercises to get the individual ready to return to competition to minimize the risk of re-injury and maximize participation

Why would you want an Athletic Trainer for bodywork?

The intensive education athletic trainers receive in anatomy, physiology and biomechanics make them ideal for all levels of injury prevention and rehabilitation. These days athletic trainers can be found working in a wide variety of settings in addition to sports. They may be working in physical therapy offices as well as corporate or industrial settings.