Evaluations and Specialized Exercise Programs are Key to Success
Physical therapist Lisa Ralston’s passion for helping student athletes developed early in her career.
“Twenty-five years ago, not a lot of PTs specialized in treating adolescent athletes,” says Ralston, the owner of All Sports Physical Therapy in Parker. “I think I was drawn to that because I started to see more adult-like injuries in our kids at a younger age.
“The back injuries were having leg pain and numbness. The surgeries were getting earlier and earlier, like elbow surgeries, shoulder surgeries, knee surgeries,” she says. “That sparked my desire to work one-on-one with the kids to prevent some of these injuries.”
Now, the former competitive ice skater makes it her mission to teach high school students and others the proper ways to move their bodies to avoid injury and become stronger athletes and individuals.
People of all ages, from 5 to 90, are welcome at All Sports’ two Parker locations-in the Parker Fieldhouse and in the Colorado State Bank and Trust building at Parker Road and Mainstreet. Upon arrival, they are treated by Ralston or one of All Sports’ three additional physical therapists, Megan Bolin, Sharon Howard or Stephanie Miller.
“We evaluate and treat patients individually. And provide specialized exercise programs to get people back to what they want to do in sports, their lives and jobs.”
While they help people with all types of physical ailments, they focus quite a bit of attention on prevention, offering tips and advice to athletes on such teams as Chaparral girls lacrosse, Ponderosa girls gymnastic and Ponderosa girls track.
For a minimal fee, each student athlete is evaluated, and given exercises and instructions on how to move better, increasing their strength and reducing their risk of injury.
Lacrosse coach Dix Baines says he was impressed by Ralston’s passion to work with and develop student athletes. After providing students with individual assessments and exercises, he says, she came back a second time to make sure they were maximizing their stretches and using correct posture.
“I can give somebody exercises,” Ralston explains, but it won’t do any good “if they don’t know how to move correctly. We want to move efficiently. And when we move efficiently, we’re stronger.”
Gymnastics coach Lisa Fisher and track coach Katherine Dorman had similar stories.
Fisher says Ralston and Miller have worked with her team’s gymnasts for two years, including this season, when Miller developed a conditioning program for the girls. In addition, she says she personally relies on Ralston to keep her healthy enough to spot and to continue to coach.
Dorman says Howard performed evaluations on members of her cross-country team in September and then prescribed exercises to strengthen weak muscle groups and to improve flexibility.
“This was all done as a preventative action. We are trying to prevent injuries due to overuse and/or poor technique.” Dorman says. “We plan on adding this to our program.”
With her passion for helping athletes and her love of ice skating, Ralston also works with Olympic skaters. Since 2009, she has volunteered once a year to provide care to the Elite Team USA figure skaters.
In fact, she just returned from a Grand Prix Final Event in Barcelona, Spain, where she worked alongside a medical doctor, treating the skaters who had injuries and overuse problems.
“Skaters have a lot of back, hip, knee, foot injuries. They’re traveling. They’re competing and training all year, so they get a lot of overuse.”
Early treatment is encouraged by everyone, including Baines, who says putting off treatment is “the worst thing” to do.
“Early intervention is cost effective,” Ralston says. “They can always come to us first. They can be assured that we will refer them to a specialist, as medically necessary.”
Ralston and her staff are referred to as “amazing” by current clientele, including Toni South, who suffered from shoulder and lower back issues, and Tina Woods, a group fitness instruction, personal trainer and marathon runner.
When Woods tore the labrum in her hip in October 2013, her orthopedist thought she would need surgery. But after about eight months of therapy with Ralston, she was back to running and working out.
“I never thought I’d be able to run again,” Woods says, adding that she ran three marathons in 2015 and has qualified for the 2016 Boston Marathon. “It’s just miraculous.”