Check Up from the Neck Up
Insights and perspectives on injury prevention, rehabilitation, health and fitness
By Ralph Cornwell, Ph.D., Ph.D. Candidate, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
In a tradition that dates back centuries, physicians take the Hippocratic Oath before they practice medicine. In the original interpretation of the oath, a doctor would swear to “prescribe regimens for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgment and never do harm to anyone.” This code of moral conduct offers up valuable lessons to strength coaches and athletic trainers who work with the “patient” in their world: the athlete.
Strength coaches are charged primarily with the duty of preparing athletes for the rigors of their chosen sport. Referring back to the Hippocratic Oath, one could argue that increasing the performance of an athlete should become the second priority for strength coaches because a great athlete standing on the sidelines injured does no one any good.
The top priority for strength coaches instead should be a training regimen targeted first at protecting their athletes from harm as their “patients” are tuned for competition. Strength coaches who help athletes achieve their goals while maintaining their overall good health ensure that these athletes are prepared for any and all possibilities they may face in competition. And just as amazingly, those coaches who have shifted their priorities have realized that performance is not diminished but rather enhanced by a more completely trained athlete.