Athletic Injury Prevention with LA Clippers head athletic trainer, Jasen Powell: Rational Wellness Podcast 367

Jasen Powell, head athletic trainer for the LA Clippers, discusses Injury Prevention with Dr. Ben Weitz.

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Podcast Highlights

2:33  Football vs Basketball.  When you work with football players, because it is a collision sport you are in more of a triage position, trying to get guys back on the field right away.  In football, you are dealing with a lot of acute injuries, whereas in basketball, you tend to deal with more chronic type injuries and you may have four games per week rather than one.  Return to play strategies are different for basketball players, game prep is different, and how you communicate with the players is different. 

4:02  How to assess athletes to screen for the risk of injuries?  Jasen and the Clipper staff put players through a movement analysis screen, including jumping off a force plate, which can tell you if there are imbalances in force output from one leg to the other.  Jasen analyzes how players move in the sagittal, frontal, and transverse planes of movement. He and his staff look at groin range of motion and strength, calf strength, quad strength and then he also looks at goniometric ranges of motion for the hips, angles, shoulders, and even the big toe.  Jasen points out that you can’t prevent injuries, but you he does injury risk management.  Then they work on improving range of motion with joints that are limited both with passive and assistive stretches and mobilization.  This is followed by lifting that incorporates range of motion work to build strength into those ranges.  Jasen also works with players to strengthen muscles that are weak and this is continually reevaluated and modified through the season and off season.

7:45  Movement analysis.  Jasen feels that assessing movement patterns may be the most important thing to focus on.  When you watch an athlete lunge into a particular plane, is it a full range and it is smooth and under control?  If the movement is limited, is the hip or the foot or ankle that is limiting you?  Are you having trouble pushing off the big toe?  Do you have a tight arch?  Have you had an ACL injury or surgery?  Are there spinal restrictions?  Do you have a congenital issue with your hip, such as a cam deformity or labral tear?  We also have to consider hydration and nutritional factors. 

10:32  Biomechanics.  When you observe an athlete going into a lunge position in the sagittal plane with the left leg, we want to see how his left foot strikes and how far can he lunge and does he have good control?  Are there restrictions in his right hip or is he having trouble pushing off his right big toe?  When lunging forwards, is there a valgus stress at the knee?  



Jasen Powell is the head athletic trainer of the Los Angeles Clippers and he has been since 1999. 

Dr. Ben Weitz is available for Functional Nutrition consultations specializing in Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders like IBS/SIBO and Reflux and also Cardiometabolic Risk Factors like elevated lipids, high blood sugar, and high blood pressure.  Dr. Weitz has also successfully helped many patients with managing their weight and improving their athletic performance, as well as sports chiropractic work by calling his Santa Monica office 310-395-3111.



Podcast Transcript

Dr. Weitz: Hey, this is Dr. Ben Weitz, host of the Rational Wellness Podcast. I talk to leading health and nutrition experts and researchers in the field to bring you the latest in cutting edge health information. Subscribe to the Rational Wellness Podcast for weekly updates. And to learn more, check out my website, drweitz.com. Thanks for joining me and let’s jump into the podcast. Hello, Rational Wellness Podcasters. Our topic for tonight is preventing athletic injuries with head athletic trainer of the LA Clippers, Jason Powell. Jason, thank you so much for joining us today. I’m very excited about this interview.

Jasen: Thank you, Ben.  Thanks for having me.

Dr. Weitz: Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you ended up becoming the head trainer for the LA Clippers. And my understanding is you’ve been a trainer for 25 years.

Jasen: Yeah. I just finished my 25th season here with the LA Clippers. My first season was 1999. Ironically, the first year that the franchise moved into Staples, which is now Crypto.com.  I actually started off as an intern with the L. A. Clippers. And then when I left as an intern, I went into a full time position with the San Francisco 49ers. Left that football experience and then came back. In ’99 as a head athletic trainer, and I’ve been here ever since and enjoyed it. The franchise has been good to me.  I think I’ve done a job that they’ve been, happy with and moving forward, as we continue to grow in the profession and as organization, it’s always forward thinking with the franchise and with our profession. That’s great.

Dr. Weitz: I also understand that you were a college basketball player.  Do you feel that helps you in your work as the Clippers trainer?

Jasen: Yeah. And it came full circle. I got into sports medicine and athletic training not to work in basketball. I got into it just for the love of sports medicine and just health care alone. It just so happened that I did play college basketball and I’m back into working with, basketball athletes, having worked football, worked numerous sports while I was in college doing my understudy. Yeah, I tell people it beats working, working in a sport that you play. And that you enjoy working with and just helping athletes. That’s just, I think that’s the nature of what I’m doing and what I enjoy to do.

Dr. Weitz: How different is it working with basketball players versus say football players?

Jasen: Big difference football, which I call a collision sport in basketball, which is a contact sport. And football is more of a triage. You’re trying to get guys back on the back on the field readily right away. Now it’s a 17 game season, so it’s still a lot of games, but you’re trying to get them ready by the week.  In basketball you may have four games a week, so it’s more like chess, whereas it’s more like checkers in football. Just the mentality of the player is a little bit different. How you [00:03:00] communicate and what you put together as far as a format and strategy of players for their return to play as, as well as for a game prep is a little bit different.  But I think football really prepares you for any sport that you work. I think the type of injuries and the kind of things that you see in football over a span of one week, you may not see for almost an entire season in basketball. You get more chronicity type things in basketball. In football, you, like I say, you see more traumatized kind of thing, more acute type injuries.  It’s a big difference, but it’s all encompassed of, at the end of the day, the common denominator is helping athletes no matter their football or basketball.

Dr. Weitz:  So let’s talk about a big part of your job is how to prevent and manage these injuries. How do you assess athletes to screen for the risk of injuries and what factors do you see as the most significant?

Jasen:  It’s pretty comprehensive and every organization is different. We’ll put a player through a [00:04:00] movement analysis screen process. We see how they move in all different planes of movement. The sagittal, frontal, transverse plane of movements. You look at how they jump. You take, force plate measurements.  Force plate is a testing tool that you symmetry or asymmetry. In a person’s limb output

Dr. Weitz:  So this is something when you jump on it, it detects how much pressure and how

Jasen: much pressure, how much load you have on one limb comparable to the other. And if there’s a difference between the two and how much load you have enforced that you’re generating through your actual, output.  And that’s part of our sports science department. They do a really good job, putting that kind of thing together. We have, we do growing tests growing tests, growing strength tests calf strength, growing bar calf strength bar. So we put leg extension bar for quad strength.  So we, we put a lot of different testing measurements together that can that can help us. comprehensively be able to tell us what [00:05:00] we need to do or what we need to get better at from a performance standpoint. We actually, we’ll do table measurements for, goniometric measurements for hip range of motion, ankle range of motion, shoulder range ankle range of motion, which is big big toe range of motion.  So I love it because you get to see, you can peel back the banana from where a player may be, To where you want them to go and what maybe has made them to be successful for where they are now, right? You put these these metrics together and figure out a plan, a workout plan a manual therapy plan for restricting things that they may have restrictive with their hips or their ankles.

And we have pretty much a routine and flow where they’ll go and do table work. Then they’ll go and do some active range of motion, movement, stretching then they’ll go and do a lifting based on what the assessment shows, which incorporates some corrective exercises. Then they go into more performance based strength exercises.  So everyone has their own plan on their own customized program based off their evaluation and their assessment. And then that’s how we put our day to day, our week to week plans for the players. And it, it’s modified throughout the course of the season and how we do things in the beginning of the season.  So there, there’s an off season evaluation assessment that we put them through in season. And then, of course, a new offseason based off what limitations they had or injuries they may have had during the season. So it’s pretty comprehensive. It’s real good. It’s the bulk and meat and potatoes, as I should say, of our assessment plan for what I call injury risk management.  Rather than injury prevention, because there’s risk of injury, but we want to try to manage you from those type of risk that you can receive, and I never get caught up in the term of injury prevention. You can’t prevent injury. There’s many force factors that come into no matter how hard train.  You have forces that come against you. So you just try to manage the risk of injury that you can probably endure.

Dr. Weitz: So of the various factors, what are some of the most important ones?  We have mechanics, we have range of motion, you mentioned, we have balanced strength, stability. What are some of the most important ones?  Give us some examples of some things that you see that are liable to create increased risk of injury and what can you do to correct those?

Jasen:  I’m not I’m not married to or biased to anyone being, more important than the other. I think they all, I think they all synchronize hand in hand, believe it or not.  However, if I had to choose what we like to, or what I like to look at the most is your movement pattern, right?  How you’re lunging into a movement, how you’re squatting into a movement, how you can functionally bend down, how you can functionally reach in different planes of movement.  Is it the hip that’s limiting you?  Is it your foot/ankle that’s limiting you?  Is it you can’t push off your big toe? And what is that reason? Why aren’t you able to do that? Is it previous history? Did you have plantar fasciitis? You have a tight arch? Did you have an ACL? Did you have some lumbar pain before?  Did you have some surgical intervention that remodeling created some restriction or some restrictive movement patterns. And, do you just have a congenital/hereditary type of lack of opportunity to move at the hip? Do you have cam deformity? Do you have some labral issues in your hips?  Do you where’s the restriction coming from and why are we having that? So I think movement analysis is a big part of it to me.  We can break down all the parameters. We go as in depth as far as nutrition what’s hydration those are two other factors that are big into how you perform and what can create or limit the risk of injury that you can have and all these components.

And when we talk about nutrition, I think that’s a huge part of it. I think nutrition is another what I call Plan B of injury management with [00:09:00] movement. I can go in depth, but this is a whole other podcast is the mental health component of it. How your brain functions, with sleep and how you recover in terms of you being able to move the right way.  The energy output that you have, which is out of nutrition, sleep, rest, recovery. So there’s so many components, but how you move is real important.

Dr. Weitz: Yeah. Why don’t we talk about that for a little bit? I was watching another podcast episode with some biomechanical guy and he was explaining how there’s a tendency for if athletes, when they’re running or lunging or cutting if their knee goes in a little bit.  In other words, if it adducts and they’re also in flexion that’s a common issue, that’s more likely to lead to an ACL thing. So getting athletes to make sure that their knees are tracking properly is,.. give us an example of a few types of things that you see.

Jasen: Simple movement pattern.  And you look at an athlete who, let’s say going to a lunge position into the sagittal plane–lunges forward. And you look at, okay, first, how was he foot striking with the left foot? Lunging forward, right? So how far can he lunge?  What’s his limitations?  What about that? If he’s lunging forward with his left, why isn’t he lunging as far or with much control?  Is it because, does he have restriction in his right hip–to not be able to lunge forward enough with his left foot strike with his ground reaction force?  So now with his right leg in the back stance phase, does he not have enough push off with his big toe? Can he not push off his big toe on his right foot in order to have a good forward lunge with his left leg?  Is it a restriction in the toe foot or is it a restriction in the ankle? Is it a restriction in the right [00:11:00] hip that is creating that lunge pattern on the left side to be restricted?  And not just restricted with the range, but restricted with the control, right?  With, what’s the controllability do you have in the hip?

Now, if you lunge forward with your left and have a valgus stress at the knee, now you’re looking at, okay, is that because he has a restriction in his left ankle?  Does he have a restriction and weakness in his left hip? And is it coming from his right side? lack of control because he doesn’t have control.  So those are the tricky things that you look at. You slow down the movement patterns, and peel back and see what it really is. Is it coming from the actual forward, left leg lunge movement, or is it coming from the opposite limb hip extension, restriction, or toe extension, or is it actually just weakness and just hip control?  Is the lumbar pelvic hip stability weak? And now he doesn’t have control on his movement pattern, or is it just [00:12:00] a restriction in range of motion, or is it restriction in strength, right?

Now you’re going to the frontal plane, and now you may have a different restriction, and you may move better in the frontal plane.  Now what muscle groups are you recruiting, allowing you to move better in that plane of motion? Contrary to how you’re moving in the sagittal, now you get into a more, idealistic movement pattern of the transverse plane and where you have been moving. Some players can move better transversely because they’re big compensators, right?  We all know that.  And we talk about that too. The compensation component of athletes who are really good at moving in the pattern, least resisted, right?  It’s really tricky how you look at movement. What you’re really looking for and how you study that and having more than just two eyes in the movement pattern is really good because now you can talk as a team and support each other on what you feel like you have to work on building, building up and getting stronger and whatever is limited, you [00:13:00] have to increase the range of motion, and I’m big on, it’s pretty To me, it’s simple.  What’s weak, you strengthen and what cannot move, you work on that range of motion.  And it could be more of a soft tissue restriction or it could be a joint issue that you have to work on increasing that joint kinematic movement pattern.

Dr. Weitz:  Good.  I imagine jumping and jumping mechanics must play a big role in basketball and the way players land.

Jasen: Yeah. Deceleration. You got to have your brakes have to be just as good as your gas pedal. I’m big on brakes. Posterior chain, hamstrings glutes, soleus muscles is big in the lower leg. All your scap/thoracic, that’s huge.  Lumbar spine. How you break, ie. how you decelerate, is important. It’s really huge so training eccentrically, but getting to the movement pattern that you can be able to even train with that kind of movement, right? So you, your muscles have to be strong enough to be able to be able to turn off the muscle pattern in an elongated positioning, eccentrically.  Training in the eccentric movements and training basketball movements.  Getting guys on vector machines, on pulleys using control Kaiser machines. Dumbbell just it’s just a movement pattern of having someone that can assist you in your mechanics in your movement, making sure that you’re not loading the joint as much as you are putting strength and and more emphasis on muscle.  Strength and muscle movement patterns, so you won’t, be contraindicated on your, on what you’re trying to train and what you’re trying to get better at, right? So training eccentrically we all know science has shown us like isometric training is huge. That’s big.  The soleus muscle is big for the ACL just as much as reducing calf strains.

Dr. Weitz:  Why is isometric training so important?

Jasen:  First of all, it’s tension. It’s load under tension, right? So without movement. So if you’re training isometrically, you’re not moving through the joint. You’re just putting that muscle under tension. And when you put the muscle under tension, you get tensile [00:15:00] forces.  that you normally get when you push off and when you have resistance, right? So that muscle fibers are in the sarcomeres and all the fiber intrinsics of a muscle really get recruited. They get recruited and get stronger. And this is all through testing and, and actually results that we see. We like to do a lot of isometric calf strengthening Quad, Iso training for tendon loading is big, for our basketball athletes and you do isometric tendon loading, for our guys, but putting tendons under stress with load without movement, where they’re just recruiting a lot of that load and tension, right?  Just, we used to be away from quad extensions, right? They used to be old school, now you’re back doing, isometric quad. Contraction, contract, hold, contract, hold, release type stuff.

Dr. Weitz: That’s interesting. Cause for a while it was all, no, you got to use closed chain exercises–we don’t use open chain.

Jasen: Right now you have, you do isometric, contract, hold contract, isometric holding, for quad tendon, patella [00:16:00] tendon loading, Achilles tendon, eccentrically, you can load them, in split stance. Isometric holds, as if they’re in a running stance, have your back laid, what maybe like Kaiser shoulder press squat machines with the tension and load coming all through through your body, making sure that tendon is getting that load that it’s going to endure when it actually plays again, against contact too, so it’s good, man. It’s fun. It’s fun to see results. It’s fun to have players who have had issues and who has issues and to take them through the entire season on a high hygiene program, isometric hygiene program and a performance based corrective exercise program. But you can’t just do corrective exercises, right?  Because, you, if you’re six seven, two hundred and thirty five pounds, you can’t just do bands.

Dr. Weitz:   Because No, of course not. You gotta maintain your strength and your speed and your power.

Jasen: Yeah. You load, you gotta load the tissue, right? Because you are gonna have resistive load against you.  You’re gonna have six nine, 270 pushing against you. So you have to be able to train that accordingly. And throughout the season, now you have to paradise it to where. You’re not doing it. You got to make sure you know when you’re doing it because you have to factor in travel. Do we have four games in seven days?  Is it on the East Coast, West Coast? Is it in a hot, dry climate? And your hydration with your tissue? Are we going to do it two times this week or are we going to do it three? Are we going to do less sets? But more times this week, that kind of thing. So that’s where it gets tricky.  That’s where it gets fun. And I think that’s where experience comes in. Also one thing you can’t teach or take away, which is huge for the respectability and the trust from the athlete to know what kind of program they may need or may want, now who’s professional, who’s not, is the results you get from the player who wants to put the time in for the program that you arrange for them.

Dr. Weitz: I’ve heard of some players that do their weight training after the game. Other players do it in the morning. What do you prefer or does it depend on the athlete?

Jasen: It depends on the athlete, but your metabolic rate is higher after after play. Your endorphins are going.  You want to still get that pump, as if you’re still playing with the resistance. Then you got, you have your other notion of, you want to recover and you want right after the game. So you get a better output after you recover and rest, the next day. And it’s like a mixed thing with guys.  Some say, let’s go knock this out now, and I think there’s, I’m torn in between. I haven’t seen any wrong between the two. I think our injury risk has not been this any different for one guy lifting more after game. opposed to the next day. Now, if you do have four games and in seven days, we do know how many games you play a week.

You guys want to lift after the game, not back to backs, of course, but they’re going to get the amount of lifting. For the season, now will you be able to lift more weight the next day? Probably so that’s where you have to talk with the athlete about what your your programming, which you need to get [00:19:00] done or what they haven’t done that you need to maybe have a little bit more recovery to do, but our strength coach, he does unbelievable job.  He’s really good at getting guys in the weight room, whether it’s the next day or after games. And that across the league, you see a lot of guys getting it in. Hey, let’s be honest. Some guys, they don’t want to come in the next day. So at least they get it in. Right.

Dr. Weitz: So now that it’s the offseason, what kinds of things are your players focusing on in terms of strength and rehab and stuff?

Jasen: You you do offseason evaluation and assessment like we talked about earlier comparable to what it was like in the beginning of the season and midseason, and that determines your programming. You do go over an evaluation over each player and you talk about what were your strengths this season?  Literally and figuratively. What were your strengths? What did you see that you liked in the weight room? What did you see you liked in the training room? What can you get better at? What do you need to get better at? What do the coaches see? What does our strength coaches see you need to improve? And we put [00:20:00] together what the coaches see they need you to get better at rather than lateral movement.

Power, more stronger. You need to get more, you get more, you need to get stronger upper body to get more depth and distance on your jump shot. We need you to be able to move laterally quicker defensively. So you put those things together to build, like I said earlier, a comprehensive program for what the offseason training will be to customize for what you need.  You sit down with guys within the first two weeks of the offseason to go over that plan, what coaches and medical staff may see. And then, of course, the player, what do you see? What do you need to get better at transparently? And then what do you, what do the team think you need to be better at?  So you put all that together. Then you have the program and how you go about doing it, where the player is going to be working out in season. I’m sorry, offseason at home. Or off season in the practice facility. And you we do a Monday through Thursday deal, with our guys, we give that Friday off and, give and take but we don’t jeopardize that Monday.  That’s why we give the Friday off. So Monday through [00:21:00] Thursday and then we retest and if a guy needs to gain weight, we see where he is, after, after, some time, maybe three, four weeks or whatever it may be. If a guy needs to lose weight, a guy, we’ll retest.

Probably before they get into live contact type of play in their offseason programming. But now we have guys who are younger contract players who will play in the summer league. So we do some we increase the workload, preparing them for the summer league and make sure their strength work is the is up along with their condition.  But that, don’t get me wrong, these guys, they do take their time off. They do rest. They have to season and then they ramp back up. Huh. But like I said, I strength of the good job working on getting them prepared for their summer league routine and or their entire offseason regimen. And let’s be honest, a lot of few guys have their own guys that they work with outside of team.  So keeping that relationship and rapport is really good. So both parties and both sides can be working hand in hand with each other.

Dr. Weitz: What kinds of [00:22:00] things do you track to see if players are over training, doing too much, versus not doing enough?

Jasen: Yeah, in house our sports science crew, they do a good job.  We use a Kinexon system. Okay. Those are small little chips that they embed in their shorts, in the back of their shorts, on the waistline. And that give us some good output. And I like to use, I like to use the red, yellow, green system, is a player exerting himself in the red where he’s working really hard, right?  Now, are they in a yellow, where they’re in a moderate state of exertion, right? Or if they’re, I won’t say the green, if they’re not, dogging it or pushing it or not really dogging or pushing it, but if the activity level that they’re working at isn’t that strenuous.  If a player has multiple days of being in the red, then we know now we have to up their recovery, right? Or we have to 

Dr. Weitz: And what determines that they’re in the red? How do you determine that?

Jasen: No, there’s a sensor that connects on the sensor. Oh, okay. Yeah, the sensor [00:23:00] that they wear.

Dr. Weitz: Oh, and is this looking at heart rate recovery?

Jasen: Yeah. Heart rate recovery and energy output, their output. So we would if a guy, so if a guy’s numbers, if they’re 500 or above multiple days, then we’re like, Hey, look, we got to think about what the recovery is, but it’s also subjective feedback as well from the player, like how you feel this week.  I see, you’ve been over the 500, over 500 in the red for the last three days as we go. I feel good. I feel good. Yeah. That may be their norm, or they, I feel a little tired. So then, we may work hand in hand with the strength coach. I’m sorry, with the play development coach and let them know, Hey, we need to have maybe like a lighter day to day, maybe go like a 20 minute, just, shooting a workout.  Or if it’s a guy, it feels like he can do more or he doesn’t feel too bad. Say, Hey, look. Play development coach is like, Hey, look, I want to implement some rim touch finishes in some defensive segments and his connexion numbers show that he hasn’t been exerted. He doesn’t [00:24:00] report any ailments or soreness and he feels like he can do it.  Then we may add that to his regimen, so it’s an, it’s a new school of adding a tool to help make sure a player is, stays adequately prepared to output when it’s time when you don’t have the connects on, you don’t have the measuring components available.

Dr. Weitz: So what sorts of things can you do to promote recovery?  I know there’s the Normatec compression sleeves.  There’s a number of other things that are available, including hyperbaric oxygen, cold plunges, and cryotherapy. What sorts of things do you feel like moves the needle as far as recovery? 

Jasen: I mean, you just said quite a few of them, right?  Like you said, Normatech, we, we do, of course, massage flushing. There’s, you have different, tart cherry juice. That’s a good recovery too. Magnesium is good for sleep. It was really good. Contrast. I’m not big to, cold tub.  Yeah, you can do that. But contrasting is really good [00:25:00] for recovery. Even before activity, I tell our guys, you do a hot, cold, hot, cold. And before activity, You want to finish in the warm when you do a contrast, right? And after activity, you go hot, cold, hot, cold, and finish in the cold, right? So you have them go like in a sauna and then into they can do sauna.  We have, we’ll have a hot jacuzzi and a cold plunge. And I’ll usually go three minutes, three minutes. And they may go three cycles and finish in the warm before they hop on the table or hop in the weight room, right? That’s before practice. And then after practice, they may do the same and then finish in the cold.  Or they may just go 10 to 12 minutes of cold afterwards. But I like to keep the muscle tissue elastic and keep blood circulating as well as while it’s recovering with cold as well. That’s why I like the two dynamics. Recovery types are big. I like this mission it’s a special mission.

Portable unit called Firefly that fits right around the fibular head and it’s electrical [00:26:00] stimulation that pumps and keeps blood circulation all the way through your lower leg to your entire body. Firefly is the name of the product. I really like that. It’s portable. No wireless you wear it on flights, you wear it after games it also helps with a lot of lower leg injuries.

Dr. Weitz:  And how does it works through electrical stimulation?

Jasen: Yeah, electrical stimulation and it’s it’s powered by just a simple button push on the actual device. It’s a long strip that you put right on your right behind your fibular head. Yeah, you may get like a little perineal nerve impulse contraction, it’s non fatiguing contraction.  And you really get that electrical stim, almost like a high volt pulse for recovery, keeping that blood circulated. Now, I’ve seen some good results even with injury and not just recovery. Recovery, you keep it on for four hours. And for injury, you you keep it on as well, and it helps plump out the fluid for for swelling as for the lactic acid as well, too.  So Firefly is big. We said Normatec Recovery Tights, Hot and Cold Plunge, Cryo Chambers. We [00:27:00] mentioned that, as also. I know some players use hyperbaric oxygen. Yeah, that’s I like to use that for injury. The big tanks are really good for injury. But the oxygen I think helps you for sleep.  I think it helps you wind down and get those red blood cells relaxed. And so you can sleep better. It’s not going to make you sleep, but it’s going to help you get into more of a relaxation frame of mind to be able to sleep. And sleep is a huge, that can be a whole nother podcast. Sleep is another thing that’s huge that goes under, underrated for your mental recovery and for your body recovery, because that’s when the body is actually doing all of its work for what you did,

Dr. Weitz: so for a heart training athlete, how much sleep do you recommend? And also do you track the quality of sleep, deep sleep and REM sleep?

Jasen: Yeah. It’s still the same. I think eight hours is still, you want to have no less than six. Some guys, if you get 10, that’s great, but how are you tracking that? We have a thing called the ora ring. Yeah. [00:28:00] Or ring. We’ve used and used for our players and that kind of can digitize and electronically let you know your deep sleep, your REM sleep.  Yeah. Restless sleep, and, it’s, it seemed to have worked out pretty good because how a player responds and says, without even looking at the numbers man, I slept pretty good and they may be at 89 or 90, the percentile of sleep or if a guy says he, he slept pretty crappy and he could be at 54 or 45 or, and, but what is the reason why you slept crappy and, and what’s the purpose and is it nutritionally, your body’s trying to digest processed foods more than just natural foods.  Is it that you aren’t recovering well because you’re exerting yourself too much and you’re not hydrated enough for your organs to relax and calm down and actually do its job? Sleep is huge. For your recovery and for your body to actually put to work all the things that you’ve done throughout the day, right?

Dr. Weitz:  So you just mentioned hydration. What are some of the general rules you like to use in terms of hydration for the [00:29:00] players? How much should they drink? When should they use a sports drink? What kind of sports drinks do you like?

Jasen: Everyone says hydrate, hydrate. What is hydration? Hydration is more than just water, right?  We know our body is 80%. Our muscle tissue is 80 percent water, but we also have to realize we need our magnesium, potassium and minerals in our body, right? So magnesium is huge, is a huge part. That’s hydration to me. Electrolytes, Magnesium is Hydration. I like there’s tons of products out there. I like, we use Drip Drop.  We use Liquid IV. Those are two products that we really, our guys really like. Um, um, Those, yeah, those are the two biggest ones that we use it’s, just simple salt alone is good for, good electrolyte for the muscle tissue and the bloodstream. Drip drop is one, like I said liquid IV is another one, but I think hydration encompasses the electrolytes of the magnesium and the [00:30:00] salt that the body needs and not just water.  And minimize the sugar, right? Not to knock difference, I’m not into the business of knocking different, products and all that, but really look at sugar count. They may have the electrolytes in them, but they also may have the sugar for the taste. So you have to think about, it’s not going to taste great.

If you’re going to get all the nutrients that you need for your electrolytes and replenish your fluids, right? So less is best when it comes to sugar and the magnesium is huge and, some of them have the zinc in it as well. Zinc is big. Drip Drop is a good one.  Like I said, Liquid IV is another good one. We use another company called Revitalite. Provided Light is another one which is pretty good. They’re made in 16 ounce 32 ounce ready to go bottles for our guys.

Dr. Weitz: Yeah. What about at halftime? What kinds of things do you like to use to refuel them?  Actually, let’s go into the whole nutrition thing for a little bit, and I realize we could spend hours on each one of [00:31:00] these topics, but in general, in terms of the nutritional what’s best for athletes to get maximum performance? Is there a type of nutritional program that you prefer in general?  Does each player have their own nutritional perspective? How important are some of the different factors like protein intake and carbohydrates for fueling, et cetera?

Jasen: I don’t claim to be a dietitian, nor do I act as if I’m one. We have that specialty and we have that skill set that helps us with our guys.  But just the concepts and the basic normality that you deal with is of course, fuel, right? Carbohydrates and protein. We protein is big for building bodily tissue. We know carbohydrate is big for energy. And, of course, you have, your less percent intake of good fats, right?  Okay. So we do we have, our chefs do a good job of of specializing the meal plans based on what’s needed for morning and after practice, after game [00:32:00] food energy intake, right? So we try to really, carbo load before activity as quiet as kept and as easy as it may sound small snacks before games or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, right?

We do that, after games, we try to do some big protein, to rebuild bodily tissues. And, we have what about at half time? Oh, half time is we have guys do a lot of energy bars. Energy bars are big. Some guys may take some, scoops of peanut butter or something like that.  Fruit is a big thing, huge thing. I have certain guys who traditionally do. I remember Serge Ibaka was a big banana, apple, orange guy at halftime. Zubac has his things. Paul has his thing. We got some guys who, have their little routine, but the hydration is huge. And they all have their, They’re small, little superstitions of hy hydration or replenish things that they like to do.  Of course energy packets where they do the energy energy quick packs are big for replenishing and have time. And of course, how much you play determines how much you quit also, of course, yeah.

Dr. Weitz:  Do some of the guys get [00:33:00] IVs at halftime?

Jasen:  No, we don’t administer IVs.  It’s not even, not even legal to do in the NBA.

Dr. Weitz: Oh, okay.

Jasen:  You have to administer that in a sanitary, hospital.

Dr. Weitz: Okay. What part, how important is taping in preventing injuries and helping to manage injuries? And I know there’s different types of taping. There’s K tape, there’s, standard athletic tape.  Okay.

Jasen: Yeah taping, that’s a, a long time traditional thing for guys in all the sport. Like, I’ve been a wizardry, I’ve been a wizard and have had, great approaches with using tape for different injuries. That’s where you get unique and you get creative with that with hands, finger sprains shoulder injuries ankles, even knees, like you, you do different things based off knowing the anatomy, right?  Understanding how it’s a spiral and how you trying to move up a simple soft tissue away from the injured part or try to move some tissue off of a ligament Trying to [00:34:00] support a tendon that’s in its groove. So just knowing your anatomy of what you’re trying to support and what you’re trying to prophylactically help a player use.  Like I said, Kinesio tape is another one. It’s a brand product that is used vastly. Some believe in it, some don’t. It’s all about what the player likes. Or what you’re trying to promote to help them to see if they say, okay, let’s go with it. You see a lot shoulder stuff. You see a lot of kinesio with knee stuff or patellofemoral issues.

I like using mechanotaping also. You really get some force and tension on that McConnell tape, that brown, the brown tape with the with the cover roll to really get, move bony structures to move soft tissue. So just knowing your anatomy is huge for. using taping techniques, and I have a lot of, I have a lot of techniques that aren’t even in the books that I’ve used that have worked for guys, and it just sometimes some things just work and some things don’t work, guys, I don’t, so, you play with it a little bit, but [00:35:00] the main thing is the main thing with taping is what are you trying to support?  What are you trying to help? So that’s what you work on as a common denominator for the different taping techniques and a different style of tape that you use also.

Dr. Weitz: This is more of a general question, but from my perspective as an NBA fan, it seems like the league’s overall attitude towards injuries has changed over time.  For a number of years ago, it seemed like players were expected to play even if they were in pain, as long as there wasn’t a major injury. And then that sort of changed over time. And then we had a few years where it seemed like it was getting to be more common for players to take days off, and we heard about load management, I even heard about agents being involved in helping to direct medical care.  And then a few years ago, it seemed like the fans were [00:36:00] complaining that all these star players weren’t playing and the NBA ownership wasn’t happy. And it looks like the NBA has put a few rules in place to reduce load management, to encourage players to play more. And how has this impacted your job?

Jasen: It’s moved the needle to make players more accountable for choosing when and why they want to sit out or want to rest.

Dr. Weitz: Right.

Jasen: It’s just, I think it was more putting the the players on notice more so than trying to crack the whip. I think I think it’s important for the league to recognize, players are playing 82 games.   

Dr. Weitz: They’re not going to ever change that, they haven’t, and you lose too much money involved in all those games with all the TV contracts and everything.

Jasen: So how do we navigate through the space of making sure that players can still play? but also think about [00:37:00] why they don’t want to play or aren’t going to play.  And and I think that’s one of the main reasons why the league, integrated this. And I think it’s served, it’s, the numbers have probably served true for what they’re doing. And, I, it can get sticky when you talk about certain things and certain reasons.  You can’t never question a player why he doesn’t want to play. Sure. But you also can put him on notice on the rules that the league will get, come back to the team if we have a certain reason why you aren’t playing that’s not abiding by the rule, right? So how you place the information to the player understanding what a player really cannot play with and what he can play with.

Being respectful of them and their job and that it is their body. But I think the players and the players union and the league puts the players on notice enough to realize that they have to be more conscious about the decisions on when they want to play or when they can or cannot play and what they can play with, right?  [00:38:00] Having two star players sit out together. Is a issue for rest, right? But if they have injuries, you got to show proof that they have injuries. So the league they definitely hold teams accountable for making sure that these players have legitimate injuries that they’re sitting out for.  And you can’t rest two players, that have been, on an all NBA team, within the last couple of years. There’s parameters to it.

Dr. Weitz:  And it’s a fine line. If you have pain, is that an injury? Maybe it is. It, we generally think of pain as resulting from injury, but sometimes it’s a fine line.

Jasen: No, pain is a fine line. And who’s a better judge of that than the person who’s dealing with it? And that’s for knowing your athlete and respecting your athlete, but also having the athlete understand and respect the job you have to do and respect that you’re going to have the player’s best interest.  I’m in the business of making sure players know I have their best interest. more so than [00:39:00] forcing myself to do a job to make myself look good. I think that’s huge and trust, which is one of my four principles is big. And you can’t get that overnight. It’s just over time through exam, from example and experience to gain that.

Dr. Weitz: When it comes to the treatment of non surgical injuries, there’s been a plethora of new physical therapy modalities in the last number of years. We, there’s various types of lasers, there’s class three lasers, class four lasers. We’ve had electrical stimulation and ultrasound for years, we have shockwave, there’s a bunch of, there’s, seems like there’s always a new machine.  Are there any of these modalities that you find really move the needle in helping with recovery?

Jasen: I’m not, like I mentioned before, I’m not married to, I’m not married to neither one. As one is like ultimately the best thing out there, right? We use all of what you [00:40:00] just mentioned shockwave, laser.  Um, but don’t, we’re not a big electrical STEM team. Our sports medicine staff, we’re not big on electrical STEM. When we do, we like using the MarkPro. The MarkPro is a big one. Like I said, we use the Firefly for recovery. lower leg injuries. As, as far as modalities I do Shockwave the Zimmer Shockwave is pretty good.  The E Pulse is a pretty good one too. There’s different levels of it but whatever the, it depends on the indication too, right? Consistency of how you’re using it. That’s huge. I think these are the best things in the business. They can’t steer you wrong, but it’s also a feel and a player’s response to treatment.  And I think modalities are secondary and a support to manual therapy and

Dr. Weitz: For those who are listening rather than watching, you held up your hand. So you’re talking about using your hands to do soft tissue

Jasen: work [00:41:00] manipulation. Yeah, so joint mobilization acupressure active ART, Active Release Techniques that you do with your hand utilizing tools with that for deeper pressure or less less pressure.  And modalities complement that. Modalities complement manual therapy. So they all work together. And as I said, that’s the uniqueness of our job. There’s no one modality that’s better than the other. You try everything. I’ve tried a lot of things over the years and you couple that with the robust staff that we have and, the things that everyone does from, of course, like what you do, like chiropractic work manipulation you have we have our doctors who do biologic, injections, things of that nature, outside, that’s part of 

Dr. Weitz:  Are you guys using peptides a lot these days?

Jasen:  If it’s needed, if peptide injection is needed, but, different cocktails are designed by, our team doctor, Dr. Steve Yoon, who’s pretty good. He’s out there, pretty good. One of the best in the business. People go to use him from across the world, but, biologic injections are big based off your [00:42:00] pathology and your indications of what you may have going on.

Dr. Weitz:  With biologic, you’re generally referring to PRP?

Jasen: That’s a basic, yeah, PRP is a basic one. You have your hyaline hyaline injection, HA injections. You got it’s so many different kind. We got stem cells or exosomes. Yeah. Yeah, so you have different ones. It all depends on what you need, and the clinician who’s doing the injections will educate on what are good ones, they have umbilical cord ones that they use too.  It’s a lot of different ones based on your situation. PRP is the more, most traditional one. Now, how you spend that and how much of the white blood cells you use or what you inject it with the PRP is big too, tenex is another procedure, that you do also for, tending stuff.

It’s a lot. You can go on and on. I didn’t wanna sit here and be a chemist and mention all this kind of stuff and about what I know and what I don’t know. But it’s more so applicable based off your indication. [00:43:00] And then once these things are brought up by the expert, then you go over the return time the efficacy rate of it and the the benefit and the pros and cons and, and how does it impact your downtime, for your sport?

Dr. Weitz: It’s been great. A couple of easy questions to end. What do you like best about your job?

Jasen: Like I mentioned before, it beats working. I enjoy what I do. I enjoy interacting with the athletes. It’s been my, it’s been a gift of mine, having been an athlete and even, At my age now, understanding, the new athletes, my son plays basketball at a high level.  My daughter is in the sports as well. So I enjoy being around the athletes and having a staff that I can work with that understands athletes and want the best for the athletes. So I enjoy my workspace, my work environment, my colleagues and I enjoy working the sport and being around the guys.

It’s all every day. [00:44:00] Every day is a different day. But I find the communication is huge. With the athletes and staff, I find trying to find trust amongst everyone is huge. And you also try to have a balance amongst it all. And you also try to make sure you’re humble amongst it all. I just let, I just said my four principles in life in that, okay, what are they?  Yeah, balance, trust, communication, and humbleness. Those are my four principles. And being humble, like having done this for so long just as an athletic trainer I know it could come and go at any time. It could have come and gone. And I love what I do. Like I said, it beats working. So I love to continue to do it.  I don’t take it for granted. And I think I’ve been putting the space to help not just athletes, but to help people, being a caregiver is important to me. I’ve helped a lot of lives along the way. I’ve given a lot of advice along the way. I’ve made a lot of friendships along the way and I think that’s part of who I am and what I’m about and trying to [00:45:00] serve.  I’m a server, and that’s what God put us on this earth to do. And I just hope that I can continue to do it. And as long as whoever wants me to do it, that’s what I’m here for. So the best part is working with the athletes and just helping people. Whether it’s the general manager, whether it’s the equipment manager, the scout, whoever comes in, you just want to be able to help them.

Dr. Weitz:  That’s great. That’s a great way to end. So thank you so much, Jason. This was a great interview.

Jasen:  No problem, Ben. Thanks for having me.



Dr. Weitz:  Thank you for making it all the way through this episode of the Rational Wellness Podcast. for those of you who enjoy. Listening to the Rational Wellness Podcast, I would appreciate it if you could go to Apple Podcasts or Spotify and give us a five star ratings and review.  If you would like to work with me personally to help you improve your health, I do accept a limited number of new patients per month for a functional medicine consultation.  Some of the areas I specialize in include helping patients with specific health issues, like gut problems, neurodegenerative conditions, autoimmune diseases, cardiometabolic conditions, or for an executive health screen and to help you promote longevity and take a deeper dive into some of those factors that can lead to chronic diseases along the way.  Please call my Santa Monica Weitz Sports Chiropractic and Nutrition Office at 310 395 3111.  And we’ll set you up for a new consultation for functional medicine. And I look forward to speaking to everybody next week.

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