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Sports Trainers


Aristotle, Leonardo da Vinci, and √Čtienne-Jules Marey all conducted experiments and studies involving motion and the human body, but it was the 19th-century French physiologist Marey whose devices to study human motion really advanced the field of biomechanics and sports medicine. In fact, both modern cinematography and sports medicine claim him as the father of their respective fields. Marey's first contribution was the first force platform, a device that was able to visualize the forces between the foot and the floor. Marey's pictures with another device, the chronophotograph, superimposed the stages of action onto a single photograph; in essence, giving form to motion and allowing scientists to study it frame by frame, motion by motion. By 1892, Marey had even made primitive motion pictures, but his cinematic efforts were quickly eclipsed by those by Louis and Auguste Lumi√®re.

Following both World Wars I and II, Marey's and other scientists' experiments with motion would combine with the need to heal and/or completely replace the limbs of war veterans. In order to provide an amputee with a prosthetic device that would come as close as possible to replicating the movement and functional value of a real limb, scientists and doctors began to work together to understand the range of motion and interrelationships peculiar to each part of the human body.

Mechanically, sports can be categorized according to the kinds of movements used. Each individual sport utilizes a unique combination of basic motions, including walking, running, jumping, kicking, and throwing. These basic motions have all been rigidly defined for scientific study so that injuries related to these motions can be better understood and treated. For example, sports that place heavy demands on one part of an athlete's body may overload that part and produce an injury, such as tennis elbow and swimmer's shoulder. Baseball, on the other hand, is a throwing sport, and certain injuries from overuse of the shoulder and elbow are expected. Athletes who play volleyball or golf also use some variation of the throwing motion and therefore also sustain injuries to their shoulders and elbows.

Today, sports trainers are part of the team of sports medicine professionals that treat the injuries of both the amateur and elite athlete. Like sports physicians, certified sports medicine therapists are responsible for preventing injuries as well as treating them, and they use their knowledge of the human body and its wide range of motions to discover new ways of reducing stress and damage from athletic activities. They work in high schools, secondary schools, colleges, and universities, and a smaller number work for professional teams. Many work in health clubs, sports medicine clinics, and other athletic health care settings. In 1990, the American Medical Association (AMA) recognized athletic training as an allied health profession.