Apr 20, 2022
Understanding the Rehabilitation of Tactical Athletes


In sports, top-level athletes are given extensive resources in an effort to optimize their health and get the most out of their in-game performance. Unfortunately, society does not always treat our tactical professionals as the athletes they are.

A recent article from SpoonerPT.com spoke with Sam Gesicki, PT, DPT, about injury prevention and rehabilitation with tactical athletes.

Below is an excerpt of the article from SpoonerPT.com.

In order to get the most out of rehabilitation and training, exercises and treatment need to be tailored to specific needs and demands that will carry over into real-world performance. Sam Gesicki, PT, DPT, highlights a few of the ways he infuses job-specific activities and movements into his tactical athletes’ plan of care:

  • “With firefighters and police officers, who wear a lot of equipment on their back and around their waist, I like to have them wear weighted vests throughout most dynamic exercises and movements.
  • For firefighters who need to carry hoses and other heavy equipment in one arm, I like to utilize unilateral kettlebell holds throughout exercises to replicate the awkward, asymmetrical nature of performing their job.
  • I have seen a few military personnel who act as medics in the field who need to drag/carry people who have been wounded. Sled pushing and pulling are great for those individuals.
  • Although we don’t usually grapple, some police officers need to subdue suspects and be able to perform takedowns efficiently and without any added stress to the body. Here at the Spooner Uptown Chandler clinic, we use the trolleys from our power rack station to train push/pulling of awkward and heavy items.”

“Another topic I would like to stress is training these athletes to have the capacity to withstand loads required by equipment and job tasks,” Sam states. “Most tactical athletes will have overuse injuries and some aspect of low back pain. Training postural endurance as well as strategizing ways to distribute the weight of their vests across their entire body, instead of just relying on core and lumbar musculature for stability, is key. Their jobs are so unpredictable. Training them in every plane of movement is a requirement so when they do need to react to a situation, they have the foundation of movement to run, jump, tackle, lunge, roll in any direction/way needed without additional stress to their bodies.”

» ALSO SEE: Combining Firefighter Training with Fitness Regimen

Our therapists conduct comprehensive musculoskeletal evaluations to determine your limitations and/or imbalances, factoring in the unique demands of your job. Then we design a therapeutic exercise program tailored to correcting your weaknesses, addressing your specific needs, and helping you stay fit, on and off duty!

To read the full story from SpoonerPT.com about the rehabilitation of tactical athletes, click here.