Post-Quarantine Return to Sport: A Proactive Approach

Dr. Nicole Woodard, PT, DPT, OCS

Slowly but surely stay-at-home orders and mandated business closures are decreasing across the US. Gyms are re-opening and races are beginning to solidify dates. But for many athletes, this may mean overextending themselves in training, races, and competitions, which could lead to injury. 


As a physical therapist, I believe the greatest thing we can do is prevent injury before it happens. As injuries and re-injuries continue to be on the rise, we have an obligation to step up and show that we are the non-surgical musculoskeletal experts. We need to share what we do and start changing this trend and there is no time like NOW.


What do athletes, weekend warriors, and fitness enthusiasts need as they head back to their activities? 

1. SET PLANS with their Coaches and Training Schedule. This is a great time to offer wellness monthly memberships and act as the CEO of their competition season.  Help them plan out their body work, training, and which competitions to attend and which to defer to next year. 


2. BODY WORK: People are going to be sore returning to their normal activities. Reach out and book them for their first 6 weeks on a regular basis to prevent this struggle and potential overuse injury.


3. MOVEMENT SCREENS: People have been sitting more than usual, altered work, altered home life and most likely altered movement. In the first month, most gyms should have every member get a new Functional Movement Screen. You can offer this as a 1x fee to the gym or offer back-to-gym programming for at risk clients at a discounted rate and do the screening pro bono. 


4. MODIFICATIONS AND ENCOURAGEMENT: A lot of athletes are going to run out of the gate at 100 ...and there are some people who might never return to the gym again. Reach out to your clients get them set up to get back to health, fitness, nutrition, and wellness body work. 


The biggest thing we can do for clients right now is to welcome them back into our doors for a check-up within in the first week to 10 days of resuming activity. We can control injury risk and really help our clients transition back to fitness safely and managing soreness and fatigue optimally. 

Here is a sample break down of a 60-minute wellness session that I am offering clients in their first week back at the gym: 

Minutes 0-20 Discuss past 6-8 weeks of training, their new goals, and perform Functional Movement Screen and Selective Functional Movement Assessment if needed and cleared 

Minutes 21-40 Tissue assessment and treatment with Rock Blade or Gliding with the Rock Pods over reported tight areas and areas not passing FMS. Use of functional dry needling (2–5 sites pending restrictions and client’s normal reactions) and recheck restricted tissues and finish the Rock Blades or Rock Floss 

Minutes 41-50 FMS Correctives and reloading the tissues properly 

Minutes 51-60 Documentation and update their app with newest exercises 

Let’s use this time to become the healthiest and best movers we can! We just got the most massive reset of our generation, don’t let this time pass you and your clients by without creating massive change.



Nicole Woodard, PT, DPT, OCS
Owner of Mobility Athletes 
Robinson, Illinois
Mobility Athletes