Ask the Expert: A Physical Therapist's Perspective & Advice

Continuation of our interview of Scott Miller, PT, MS, SCS, CSCS.

What bearing does a young person's weight have on your assessment?

“Weight and BMI do have a bearing on our assessment of the patient/athlete. From the perspective of a sports physical therapist, we look at four main aspects of weight: body type, age/gender correlation, sport specific physique and weight changes.

First, we take into account how much individuals weigh based on their body type (endomorphic, mesomorphic, or ectomorphic). For example, an individual that is 5’8” tall with a mesomorphic or “athletic build” should have a higher acceptable body weight than his counter-part that is 5’8”with a ectomorphic (skinny/lean) build. Next, it is important to have an understanding of growth spurts with the adolescent athlete and relative changes consistent with their age and gender. Thirdly, there is an expectation that the type of activity/sport the athlete is involved in can influence and drive certain body types, body weight and BMI (e.g., comparing a cross-country runner to a volleyball player). Finally, as a sports physical therapist, we want to know relative and/or remarkable changes in an athlete’s body weight. Drastic changes in weight (up or down) can be red flags for eating dis- orders or more serious medical conditions (e.g., cancer). Specific to physical therapy, there is evidence in the literature to support the correlation of stress fractures (extremity or spine) and improper eating habits. Poor eating habits can also have a negative effect on athletic performance and recovery after training, thus increasing the risk for over-use injuries to muscles, tendons, and joints.”

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