The 2012 Summer Olympics provided the world with glimpses of extraordinary athletes of all shapes and sizes going for the gold. Robbie Ohashi, DPT, a 2004 graduate of the School of Medicine’s Program in Physical Therapy, was in the midst of it all – not as an athlete, but as an athlete’s physical therapist.
Ohashi is president of Performance in Motion, a Chicago-based rehabilitation and performance training company that focuses on professional, elite and recreational athletes. One of his clients is Koji Murofushi, a 37-year-old Japanese hammer thrower who has participated in four Olympic games and has won Olympic Gold. Murofushi won a bronze medal on August 5, 2012, with a 78.7-foot throw, a seasonal best.
This was Ohashi’s first experience working at the Olympic Games.
“This has been quite the opportunity for me,” Ohashi says. “It’s hard to put into words what it is like to be in London for the Olympics, but words like ‘electric,’ ‘amazing’ and ‘overwhelming’ come to mind. You can truly feel the Olympic spirit among all of the athletes as they eat together in the Village and interact on and off the playing fields. It’s amazing how the power of sport can bring people from all over the world together like this.”
Ohashi has been working with Murofushi since March 2010. After recovering from some injuries and seeking the best way to care for his body, Murofushi put a team in place to help him be successful. That team includes a coach and Ohashi as a physical therapist, who travels with the athlete to competitions worldwide.
Murofushi, who earned a doctorate in biomechanics and is an associate professor at Chukyo University in Toyota, Japan, had a history of hip and low back problems and had been told to have surgery.
“The primary focus of what Koji and I did from the beginning was based on the training I received at the Washington University School of Medicine's Program in Physical Therapy,” Ohashi says. “It was there that I learned the importance of diagnosing and treating each athlete’s specific movement system syndromes. It was an eye opener for Koji to understand the root of his past injuries and to see how correcting these movement impairments would not only help to prevent injuries in the future but would increase his performance potential.”
Ohashi created a warm-up routine for Murofushi, added corrective exercises and adjusted his training volume to allow more time for recovery. He also provides regenerative strategies, including dry needling therapy, stretching and other techniques.
In addition to Murofushi, Ohashi has worked with professional athletes from the NBA, NHL, MLB, NFL as well as those who participate in golf, figure skating, track and field and tennis.