The life of an athlete does not just consist of the times they are competing on the court, field, or gym. Most of the struggle occurs during practice and days in between. To make sure they compete to their maximum potential, athletes have to make sure that their bodies are healthy and prepared to take on the challenges that each of their sports entail.
Though athletes can have their own programs or diets to stay fit, the school has a group of talented physical therapists that help DLSU’s student-athletes maintain high fitness levels. One of DLSU’s PTs that has a great rapport with many of the athletes, because he at one point was a Lasallian athlete in his own right, is PT Marco Villanueva.
Becoming a PT
Before becoming a physical therapist, Villanueva, or more commonly known as PT Marco, was a student-athlete representing the Green-and-White. Also a member of the national team, he was a key member of the Green Jins.
With his course having been Sports Studies at La Salle, he knew he wanted to stay in sports. With the help of his former PTs, he realized that physical therapy was the route he wanted to go.
He explains, “Actually, I decided PT as my second course kasi nung athlete ako, I was inspired by my former PTs so that really encouraged me to take up PT rin after ko mag graduate ng La Salle.”
After studying for five years at San Juan de Dios, he got his first PT job at DLSU. Five years later, he is still a vital member of La Salle’s athletic program and continues to enjoy what he does.
“I guess being a sports PT is fun and at the same time hard kasi during my athlete days, feeling ko madali lang naman yung job ng isang PT pero when I became the PT of the athletes, sabi ko ‘wow, ito pala yung feeling,’” Villanueva says.
The physical therapist adds that during his first few days as La Salle’s PT, senior PTs like PT Teddy Fabian taught him a lot such as taping, injury management in an out of the field, and how to aid athletes during their critical times.
The actual job
Being a physical therapist is more than just giving first aid towards athletes during game days as they are also tasked to help athletes recover from various injuries and maintain their fitness in sports while strengthening their weak parts to avoid further harm during the season. Villanueva notes that his role in the success of an athlete is that he and the other physical therapists aid athletes in recovering to help them perform well in their respective sport.
“We help maintain their fitness as well and parang monitor them to achieve their optimum level of game,” he adds.
A common injury found in many athletes are knee related injuries. Villanueva states that when these occur, they focus on exercises that target strengthening and flexibility. Different programs are also given to athletes to help themselves recover whenever the PTs are unavailable.
“Hindi ka lang magfofocus sa strengthening so you need to focus on other muscle groups na kailangan ng stretching and core exercises also, tinuturuan rin namin sila doon.”
He considers his job as a tough one because its main goal is to get the athletes back to their sport as soon as possible after an injury. While he knows athletes want to get back right away, he knows he has to be careful with clearing them and not pushing up the timetable to avoid further injury. With that in mind, he does say that seeing the athletes he has developed friendships with do the best they can, especially after an injury, is a gratifying feeling.
“It’s tough and fun at the same time kasi you build friendships with your athletes and especially when you see them return to their sport, it’s a big fulfillment for us.”