The Sports Medicine Technology Changing the Way We Exercise

The Sports Medicine Technology Changing the Way We Exercise

The Sports Medicine Technology
Changing the Way We Exercise

When it comes to medical spas, German-based Lanserhof is in a league of its own. So when its latest outpost opened right in London at the Arts Club on Dover Street, we were not surprised to learn that in addition to traditional spa features like cryotherapy and acupuncture, this site adds a uniquely Lanserhof touch to the Arts Club’s (extensive, luxurious) existing facilities: a medical gym. Which is like a regular gym, but way, way cooler.

It goes like this: When you join Lanserhof at the Arts Club (and you don’t have to be an Arts Club member to do so), the physicians and nurses in residence, guided by medical director Sebastian Kunz, evaluate you from head to toe with diagnostic tests and screenings. What’s the curvature of your spine like? Is one leg more dominant than the other? How’s your heart? They work with trainers to set up a plan for whatever you need, whether that’s extraordinary athletic performance or bouncing back from a nagging knee issue. Then your entire gym routine is loaded onto an electronic drive, and when you you insert that drive into any one of the gym’s ingeniously designed machines, they do the setup—seat settings, weight loads, incline—for you.

Thoughtfully prescribed medical and wellness treatments fill in any holes in your workout to help you reach your goals faster and more safely. Kunz, a professional footballer turned orthopedic doctor, is especially passionate about this. He’s been injured many times himself, and his background is in trauma surgery. Every time he would set a hip or realign a knee from a sports injury, he’d think, If I’d seen this patient earlier, I could have prevented this.

To meet each client’s specific needs, Kunz crafts bespoke plans that often involve some really innovative tech. We had him break down the four tools in his armamentarium that he relies on the most.


Infrared Cameras for Comprehensive Body Composition Analysis

To capture and analyze motion, Lanserhof technicians use data from infrared cameras. They look at a client’s gait, running and jumping mechanics, and ability with functional tasks, such going from sitting to standing. They measure muscle flexibility, strength, and volume. And they assess the complete structure of the spine. That motion analysis is combined with kinematic data (which measures how joint angles move during dynamic tasks) and kinetic data (which measures limb symmetry).

All of this together allows a practitioner to see exactly how forces distribute load on your joints. Maybe everything looks good, or maybe things aren’t properly aligned, making you prone to injury. Depending on the data, Lanserhof sets up personalized programming using bracing or exercise therapy to minimize your risk. If your priority is to get back in the game ASAP after an injury, he may combine therapeutic exercises with a number of other techniques, like shock wave therapy or platelet-rich plasma injections.


Ultrasound-Guided Injections for Speedy Recovery

“Exercise therapy is super effective—and its effects are long-term,” says Kunz. “But because we’re treating the root causes of the problem, it takes time to work. And that can be really frustrating for a patient.” So while Lanserhof practitioners diagnose and try to correct the underlying reason a problem has appeared, they also treat the symptoms. One popular option: ultrasound-guided injections.

Ultrasound is used as a diagnostic tool to pinpoint injuries in muscles, joints, tendons, and ligaments and to target the location of damaged tissue for more-precise injections. Kunz uses several injection therapies, including two derived from a patient’s own blood.

Platelet-rich plasma: To stimulate tissue regeneration in tendon injuries and mild degenerative conditions, Kunz will inject platelet-rich plasma. Platelets are blood cells that are responsible for clotting and healing. PRP is a sample of a client’s own blood in which some components have been separated out, so the remaining mixture has a platelet concentration two to three times that of regular blood. When PRP is injected at sites outside of the bloodstream, the platelets release a number of growth factors that stimulate tissue regeneration in bones, joints, and soft tissues.

Autologous conditioned serum: Another blood-derived solution, autologous conditioned serum is made by drawing and incubating a patient’s blood at high temperatures to increase the concentration of anti-inflammatory proteins. Then the resulting serum is reinjected at the site of tissue damage. Kunz uses ACS when he’s looking to reduce inflammation in a patient’s joints—ACS contains a high count of anti-inflammatory proteins, and studies have demonstrated its potential to manage pain and functionality for people with osteoarthritis.


Simulated Environments for Injury Prevention

“We can prevent common injuries by training the body and brain to function better in situations where you might get hurt,” says Kunz. For example: In the Lanserhof movement lab, there’s a training protocol for preventing falls. Strapped into a safety harness, you walk on a split-bed treadmill, where each foot lands on an independent belt. By programming one belt at a slightly slower speed than the other, Lanserhof creates an environment for tripping when you walk to see how you react. Can you catch yourself?

New research shows that if people practice this tripping simulation on a treadmill several times a month, they can significantly reduce the risk of falling within one year. “It’s a little like vaccinating your body against falls,” says Kunz. “You’re training your brain and muscles to react quickly when something happens in real life.”


Oxygen Therapies for Cellular Energy

There’s a technique known by competitive athletes to enhance energy and endurance: training at high altitudes. That is, a runner can train their body to use oxygen more efficiently by taking a few days to run in the mountains, where the air is thinner and they get less oxygen in each breath. When the athlete returns to their normal altitude, their body is acclimated to lower-oxygen conditions. Because of that, every breath they take feels more energizing and powerful. If you’re not an athlete with convenient access to the mountains, that doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t take advantage of this training technique. At Lanserhof, there’s a treatment called Airzone therapy (it rolls off the tongue better than its technical name: interval hypoxia-hyperoxia training). It’s like altitude training but can be done without the uphill climb.

Here’s how it works: Clients lie down while wearing a breathing mask that alternates between a high-oxygen air supply and a low-oxygen one. This cycle of excess and deprivation puts the body in a stressed state, and cells are thought to respond by clearing out weak mitochondria (a mitochondrion is the part of a cell that controls respiration, energy, and metabolism) and replacing them with newer, stronger mitochondria that use energy more efficiently. In addition to improved athletic endurance, the treatment could have a number of benefits, including improved cardiovascular health and cognitive function, as well as reduced free radical damage.