If you’re tennis champ Maria Sharapova, you can afford to have personal trainer, masseuse and physical therapist extraordinaire Juan Reque out on tour with you. If you’re well-off or cut corners, you can afford a personal session in his luxurious Solana Beach office twice a week. But if you want to get the same injury-prevention exercise routine Reque tailors to his famous sports clients, all you need now is $30 a month.
Reque’s new subscription-only program, PreventOK, features thousands of videos that any athlete, age 8 to 80, can employ to treat, and to avoid, the types of injuries that end budding sports careers dead in their tracks. Different exercises emphasize strength, stretching, mobility and function.By subscribing to the program through his website (www.preventok.com), members get to provide feedback to Reque about their results, then receive video links tailored to their personal needs.
“There isn’t any injury-prevention program set up like this,” Reque says. “You can go to YouTube and find 10 exercises for shoulders. But my program has continuous feedback. It’s a different way of exercising that keeps the joints loose and the muscles balanced.”
In his Solana Beach office, Reque mostly works as a massage therapist treating injuries using Active Release Technique, a movement-based massage designed to strip scar tissue from muscles and tendons.But a big part of his work with star athletes — also including tennis great Roger Federer, former Los Angeles Lakers guard Sasha Vujacic and Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles — is the exercise routines now featured on the new videos. Reque feels it’s much more important to prevent injuries then to treat them after they occur — especially with the young San Diego children he’s seeing, in increasing numbers, after they already injure themselves.
“Sports goes too early, too much and only one sport,” Reque says. “It used to be that you grew up playing three months of basketball, three months of baseball and three months of soccer. But now, it’s 100 percent one sport every day of the year, which can be dangerous if you don’t know how to exercise.”
Reque says he sees kids as young as age 12 with chronic elbow, shoulder and knee pain from repetitive strain injury that often gets so bad, it stops them before they can apply to play in college.“They’re not strong enough for how much they play and the intensity with which they play,” he says, adding that the most injury-prone sports are tennis, soccer and baseball. “They’ve got Tommy John elbow at 15 years old, so they start with the surgeries.”
PreventOK focuses on junior sports because, Reque says, “kids have a tough schedule and no time to go see trainers, but with this program, they work from home at their own pace — like homework.”
Reque originally earned his physical therapy and sports science degrees in his native Madrid in 1999. (Since then, he has added licenses in massage therapy, European physical therapy, applied kinesiology and strength and conditioning coaching.) His talent for healing got him hired on as a physiotherapist for the Spanish Davis Cup Team, then aboard the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) tour, where he worked for 13 years.
Sharapova’s father met Reque on the ATP tour in 2008, inquiring if he could aid his daughter’s recovery from surgery to correct an injury to her right shoulder.
“So I helped,” Reque says.
How instrumental that help was, no one can say for sure. But Sharapova was once a tennis great, then got injured and wasn’t. After Reque’s help, she shot back to her No. 1 ranking and won the French Open.
Reque humbly shrugs off any credit. “There are so many different aspects — the training, the coach — it’s not one thing,” he says.
But Sharapova herself noted, writing in the foreword to Reque’s 2013 exercise book, Injury Free Program: “Not only has Juan taught me the importance of prevention work, but he’s also shown me that it’s critical to find the core of the problem instead of simply treating the pain.”
When Sharapova hired Reque fulltime, he and his wife moved from Spain to Los Angeles. But, after five years, he bowed out. His second daughter had just been born and the traveling became too much.
“So I moved down to San Diego,” said. “And I am here treating most of my old clients and making many new ones.” (Reque reports recently signing on the youth soccer club L.A. Galaxy San Diego.)
“I’m not saying you can avoid every injury, but this can help you do your best,” he says.
For more information about PreventOK, visit www.preventok.com or call (310) 706-1984.
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