When Julie Carpenter embarked on a career in sports medicine, she never imagined she would work with Olympic speedskaters.

“Speedskating is such a unique sport,” Carpenter said. “You’re racing against the clock — or against another athlete as you would in track and field, but you’re doing it hunched forward, with sharp blades strapped to your feet, turning left in tight circles.”

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Julie Carpenter at the Pettit National Ice Center, during the 2018 Team USA Olympic speedskating trials.

Training Speedskaters at Our Sports Medicine Center

Carpenter first started working with the speedskaters in 2009 as a licensed athletic trainer at our Sports Medicine Center. Some members of the U.S. national speedskating team, including Brian Hansen and Emery Lehman, choose to train in Milwaukee at the Pettit National Ice Center, instead of in Salt Lake City, Utah. With the exception of a rink in Salt Lake City, the Pettit is the only Olympic-size indoor oval long track in the country.

“When I started working with the speedskaters, low-back, hip flexor and hamstring strains were common injuries,” Carpenter said. “I started paying close attention to which muscles are dominant in that type of athlete, and my approach has been to strengthen all of the accessory muscle groups, which for a speedskater involves plenty of core work.”

Preparing for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games

Leading up to the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics, Carpenter helped the athletes prepare for various qualifying competitions, including the U.S. Olympic Long Track Trials at the Pettit in January 2018. Hansen and Lehman were selected for Team USA. They follow a rigorous workout routine that can involve training up to eight hours a day.

“Our job is to keep them on track, healthy and ready for the Olympics,” Carpenter said. “So a large part of what we do together is muscle recovery through manual therapy, which can include myofascial release, electrical stimulation and cupping.”

While an Olympic athlete’s training program is much more intense than the average person’s, Carpenter often draws parallels between the Olympians and her other clients.

“In speedskating, we are constantly working to prevent pelvic and low-back injuries,” Carpenter said. “This translates to the general public because many of us have a tight back and hips. Stabilization and mobility exercises can help everyone.”

Performance Enhancement Program (PEP)

Through our Performance Enhancement Program, Carpenter and her colleagues, sports medicine certified athletic trainers, help athletes ages 12 and up improve their sports performance abilities through customized training programs. A client may want to train for a specific event or simply rehabilitate an injury.

“Whatever their goals are, we can help them tackle their weaknesses and reach their full potential,” Carpenter said.

Many of the athletic trainers, like Julie, have backgrounds in a specific sport, such as ballet or baseball. Athletic trainers are clinically trained and can provide medical services, which sets them apart from a typical personal trainer.

“We understand the sport and the rehabilitation process,” Carpenter said. “Our training gives us a deeper level of expertise in injury prevention.”

Learn more about our sports medicine services.

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