The health and safety of our athletes is a top priority at Chicago Fire FC. For physical health and development, the club is partnered with RUSH Physical Therapy to support players from the First Team professionals down to the Fire Juniors youth participants. Learn more about our partnership here.
In previous newsletters, we have shared about the RUSH PT staff who work our youth participants from the Juniors up to the Academy. Today we are excited to spotlight our Chicago Fire FC Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Joshua Blomgren of Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush. Dr. Blomgren leads the medical staff working with the First Team ensuring their recover from injury is done safely and swiftly. Learn more in the interview below about his work, history with the club, and injury prevention tips for athletes of all ages.
How long have you been partnering with RUSH Physical Therapy?
I have had a collaborative relationship in treating patients with RUSH PT for the past 11 years.
What sports did you play growing up?
I grew up playing whatever ball I could get my hands on and whatever sport was in season. In high school I played soccer, basketball, baseball, and ran track. I played collegiate soccer at Benedictine University in Lisle, IL.
Do you work with any other professional sports teams outside of the Chicago Fire FC?
I am on the team of physicians that care for the Chicago White Sox where my primary role is providing game day medical coverage.
Chicago Fire Experience:
How long have you been working with Chicago Fire FC?
The 2022 Season will mark my 8th Season involved with CFFC. The first two years I served as Associate Medical Officer, and since I have served in the role of Chief Medical Officer. I have also served in a consultancy role with the Chicago Fire Academy and Chicago Fire Jrs. performing preparticipation physicals, managing concussions, and evaluating injured athletes as necessary.
What is your favorite part about working with Chicago Fire FC?
The People. I have found the entire organization to be comprised of great people and it is truly a family environment. Everyone is committed to the success of the Club and Organization.
How large is the medical and injury prevention team with Chicago Fire FC?
The medical staff for the CFFC First Team is made up of myself and one other physician. 3 Athletic Trainers and 1 Massage Therapist handle the day-to-day care of the players. We also work very closely with our Performance staff that consists of the performance director and strength and conditioning staff. The CFFC Youth Academy also has a staff of 3 Athletic Trainers across all age groups and Performance Staff.
If comfortable, please share a favorite memory of our work with the team.
My personal favorite memory was traveling to Germany for Bastian Schweinsteiger’s medical. There was a tight timeline that required me to travel for his medical clearance. It was very stressful due to his high caliber, but also an unforgettable experience.
Injury Information & Prevention:
Does working with professional athletes differ from the general public?
Many of the injuries that occur in professional athletes occur in the general athletic population. The main difference is the timeline with which we try to get them back to activity. The goal is to return them to pre-injury form as quickly and healthily as possible. The success of the athlete and the professional team is contingent upon the player being at their best, so every effort is made to ensure that they can perform optimally.
What are some of the most common injuries you see in soccer players?
The most common injuries are ligament injuries (sprains) to the ankle and knee, muscle/tendon injuries (strains) of the lower leg, with the hamstring being most common, and concussion/head injuries.
Do you feel the most common injuries differ by age and gender?
Sprains, strains, and head injuries are the most common across age and gender, but the proportion of those seen will differ by age and gender. For instance, the rate of concussion in female soccer players is over double that of male soccer players.
How do you feel about daily training and multiple sport athletes?
In general, daily training isn’t a bad thing when there are rest days built into the program. Daily training can be safely done if the duration and intensity of training is appropriately dosed to allow the athlete’s body to recover and adapt to the training loads. I am proponent of multi-sport athletes. Each sport focuses on varied technique and muscle development that creates a well-rounded ‘athlete’. This promotes ‘athletic’ movements and makes an athlete more adaptable when they choose to focus on one sport.
What are some exercises or actions young athletes can take off the field to prevent injuries?
One of the more common, but often overlooked areas of improvement is focusing on improved flexibility. Overly tight muscles can create imbalances that contribute to injury. Core strength is central to athletic movements. Core strengthening exercises, such as planks can not only strengthen but stabilize the core.