Injured Athletes Train Their Way Back to Competition

Emma and Chris Poirier

When athletes get injured, it can stop them from doing what they love. The sports therapists at Emerson’s Clough Family Center for Rehabilitative and Sports Therapies provide sport-specific physical therapy, customized to help athletes get back in the game and reach their goals.

Back to Cross Country

Ethan Jina, a Concord Carlisle High School senior, suffered multiple leg injuries that led to a full stress fracture in his right leg. “I was not sure if I could run again,” he says. At the advice of his physician, Ethan turned to Emerson’s sports medicine team.

He made significant progress by working closely with Haley Harrison, PT, DPT, OCS, CSCS, a physical therapist at the center. “Using advanced equipment to measure his strength, we identified some muscle group imbalances due to his leg injuries,” explains Haley.

Ethan worked with Haley (both pictured at right) twice weekly for five months doing high-intensity progressive strength training. As a result, his form improved and his strength increased. Today, Ethan is back on track running with the Emerging Elites, a USA Track & Field club. He also qualified for the USA Triathlon Junior Nationals.

“I am very proud of Ethan’s progress,” Haley says. “He brought his athletic drive to his recovery program, and the results speak for themselves. I aim to empower my patients physically and mentally so they understand their injury is not the end of their athletic journey.”

Return to Rugby

Like Ethan, Emma Griffith, of Lincoln, loves to compete. “I started playing rugby as a freshman at Lincoln Sudbury HighSchool,” she says. Emma tore her ACL during her junior year. “My left leg twisted, and I felt and heard my knee give out.” After an MRI at Emerson, she received the tough news — she needed surgery.

Emma teamed up with Chris Poirier, PT, DPT, OCS, a physical therapist at the center (both are pictured at the top of the page). Her goals: to get as strong as she could before surgery, and to get back to playing rugby as soon as possible after surgery. Strength training pre- and post-ACL surgery is the best approach.

“Chris established an exercise program I did during practices so I could be with my teammates. This helped increase my athleticism and mental strength,” explains Emma. “Cheering on my teammates while doing my exercises kept me in the game, even when I could not physically play.”

Emma had surgery in July 2021. Two weeks later, she returned to the center to work with Chris. “Emma came out of surgery very strong, which was the objective to help her overall recovery. We worked to get her range of motion back and increase her strength and speed over time,” Chris says.

Last spring, Emma returned to the rugby field for her senior season. “My first game back, I ran off the field, looked at my coach, and cried tears of joy. My teammates did a high-five arch for me. The whole experience exemplified why I love this sport.” Emma just began her first year at the University of Vermont and plans to play club rugby for the Catamounts.

Pain-Free Baseball

Josh Becker (pictured at right pushing the sled) has played baseball since age four. Now in his first year of graduate school at UMass Lowell, he is the starting pitcher for the Division 1 River Hawks. Years of intense hip and back pain nearly took him off the mound.

“The team trainer sent other players to Chris and told me, ‘He will get you right.’ Gratefully, that proved to be true,” says Josh. In October 2021, Josh started working with Chris with a goal to play ball in the spring.

“This was very different from regular physical therapy that I had done for years. Chris was very sports-specific — he understands the mindset of athletes and how the body needs to move to play baseball,” Josh reflects. “I stopped having pain a few weeks after I started training at the center.”

Josh competed throughout the spring, helping the River Hawks earn second place in the conference tournament. He recorded his 200th career strikeout. Josh is aiming to break the school record in 2023.

“I am grateful to Emerson’s team for getting me back on the mound.”

Benefits of a Sports Physical Therapy Program

Whether you are an elite athlete or weekend warrior, our highly specialized sports therapists provide one-on-one physical therapy to help you perform your best. Our therapists work closely with orthopedic specialists, athletic trainers, and coaches to focus on recovery from injuries such as:

  • Fractures
  • Dislocations
  • Sprains and strains
  • Shin splints
  • Repetitive use/overuse injuries

For information and to schedule an evaluation, visit To see patient stories, visit the Clough Sports Medicine & Performance Center’s Instagram @emersoncsmp.

Podcast: Preparing for Your Athletic Dreams

Haley Harrison discusses how you can know when you are to pursue your physical fitness goals and explains the role that physical therapists play in developing an attainable athletic plan.

Subscribe to the Health Works Here Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts and wherever podcasts can be heard.