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The missing piece for many high school athletes? Recovery.

Athletes who look to boost their performance spend lots of energy in the gym and on the practice field, but they often overlook another key ingredient for success.


A new program at Excelsior Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine in Amherst looks to help high school athletes with that common oversight.

The practice has started recovery workshops, including one that will take place at 10 a.m. Saturday in the gym at Excelsior headquarters, 3925 Sheridan Drive. The free sessions will continue in the coming weeks. Those interested in should call (970) 389-8629 to reserve a spot.

“We're not going to have them jumping and sprinting, changing direction and doing agility work,” said James Starkey, the sports training coordinator with the practice who will run the workshops. "This is more what you do after you've done that stuff. How much sleep should I get? What should I eat? When should I eat it? How do I use a foam roller? How do I do stretches, and which are the most common to do for which joints? How do I warm up properly?"

Starkey, a Hamburg native, holds a bachelor's degree in athletic training from SUNY Cortland State and a master's in exercise science from Middle Tennessee State University. He worked for a year as an athletic training intern with the Tampa Bay Buccaneer football team, then spent five years at the famed Steadman orthopedic and sports medicine clinic at the foot of Vail Mountain in Colorado, before returning to Buffalo in 2015 to help establish Impact Sports Performance in HarborCenter.

He joined the Excelsior staff in March.

James Starkey, sports training coordinator with Excelsior, says the term "injury prevention" is a misnomer.

Starkey expects athletes who play football and hockey – “equipment intensive sports” – will make up the bulk of workshop participants. Still, he said, all high school athletes can benefit from making proper recovery part of their sports participation regimen.

"Athletes will be working with foam rollers, and on hurdle mobility, floor-based mobility and stretching,” he said. “We'll go through proper warm-up and cool-down techniques. We'll condense all that within an hour."

Participants also will receive follow-up information about healthy nutrition, including meal timing, and other strategies they can use on their own.

"If we start to generate interest from our adult athletes, weekend warriors, even athletes in middle school, we'll adjust the workshops accordingly,” Starkey said.

Sharkey said research has shown that recovery programs reduce risks and the number of injuries among individuals and teams.

"We don't call it injury prevention because, at the end of the day, you can't prevent everything,” he said.

The workshops are designed to help young athletes recover more quickly from the bumps, bruises, delayed muscle soreness and fatigue that can come with sports, Starkey said. Athletic trainers and doctors will continue to handle injuries.


Twitter: @BNrefresh, @ScottBScanlon

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