Working as an athletic trainer in a high school setting comes with some obstacles when dealing with school budget and being limited on how many supplies/rehab equipment you can stock your training room with. During the eight years I worked in a high school setting, I learned to become creative and develop cost effective ways to construct do-it-yourself sports medicine tools.
DIY Ice Pack
Believe it or not, not all high schools come with industrial sized ice machines and in a high school setting, gallons of ice are used on a daily basis. A quick remedy to help with limited ice is to make your own reusable ice bags. Solution: Mix 2 cups of water and 1 cup of isopropyl rubbing alcohol in a double bagged gallon size Ziplock (in case of leaks). Place the bag in the freezer overnight. If the pack is too hard, add some rubbing alcohol and if it’s too watery, add some water until you get the consistency of a gel pack and now it will conform to any body part and can be used over and over. Make sure there is some protective barrier between the ice pack and skin (like a paper towel/sheet) to avoid risk of ice burn on the skin.
DIY Foam Roller
Foam rollers are widely used in the sports medicine world for soft tissue mobilization, stretching and exercises but do not come with a cheap price tag. Although there are different qualities and sizes of foam rollers, the price can range from $20 to $50. That amount of money could buy you a lot of athletic tape which is a necessity in the training room. Solution: Buy a cheap 3 foot long by 6″ diameter PVC pipe and cover it with a thin towel and tape around it or padded shelf liner with a sticky backing.
Rangemakers are tools used to typically help assist with shoulder range of motion (ROM) and a pulley system. In the high school training room setting, an athletic trainer could be working on 10 athletes all at one time so performing manual -hands on work on one athlete is very time consuming. Range of motion pulleys systems allow several athletes sit under a door frame and work on assisting ROM themselves. Store bought pulleys can range from $12-$25. Solution: Go to local hardware store and purchase about 6 feet of thin rope, small steel pulley and 2 six-inch PVC pipe pieces (handles) with 2-3 inch diameter. Have hardware store drill small holes into center of PVC pipes so rope can be pushed through. Tie 1 foot of rope to top of pulley and other end tie a large knot that can be put over a door (make sure door can close so knot will not pull through the jam). String the other 5 ft. of rope through the pulley and put both rope ends through the drilled hole in the PVC pipe pieces. The pipes will be the handles. Make sure you tie knots at the ends of ropes so they will not pull through the drilled holes. Sit yourself on a chair/stool either facing or back against door and stretch away!
Here at Oahu Spine & Rehab we are lucky enough to provide our patients with a great assortment of rehabilitation equipment in our facility here in Kailua. One of the most important parts of our treatment plans here at OSR are the at-home stretches. Most of these stretches take little to no equipment, but some DIY equipment may be the most cost-effective thing for you! For more information on how our physical therapists can help you, call us today at 488-5555!