Junior Olympic Fencer’s “Secret Weapon” is Emerson’s Sports Medicine Program

Azlan Shahzad

Azlan Shahzad began fencing eight years ago for fun. Today, he is a 16-year-old Junior Olympian saber fencer who competes nationally and for Concord-Carlisle High School’s fencing team. To excel as a fencer requires tremendous endurance, power, speed, flexibility, and focus. But last summer Azlan experienced pain in his hip that made it difficult to walk. He thought his fencing days might be over.

High-Caliber, Convenient Solution Keeps Azlan in the Arena

An orthopedic surgeon diagnosed him with an avulsion fracture — a painful injury where bone fragments separated from his hip. The surgeon told Azlan that physical therapy offered him a fighting chance to return to the fencing arena.

Thankfully, Emerson’s Clough Sports Medicine and Performance team is located near his home, making frequent appointments easy and convenient.

“I fence five days a week, two hours a day, plus three private lessons a week, and competitions on the weekends,” he explains. His athletic schedule, combined with the academic intensity during his junior year of high school, required a high-performance, convenient solution.

“I work with Chris [Poirier, DPT] in Emerson’s Sports Medicine and Performance gym twice a week. After a few months working with him, I experience almost no pain during practice or competition. I often compete back-to-back on the weekends and don’t even notice my hip. It is such a relief. I now compete uninhibited. I don’t pay attention to it. I focus fully on fencing,” shares Azlan.

Among other high-level exercises, Chris works with Azlan on plyometric box jumps, dead lifts, and squats that strengthen his hip tendons and prevent future injuries. “Chris takes the time to learn what fencing entails. He tailors exercises based on what I need to perform my best,” Azlan explains.

While working with injured athletes, Emerson’s sports medicine team focuses on increasing their physical and mental strength. As Chris explains, “Keeping athletes in the sport they love and around their teammates while they recover is crucial for their athletic success and mental well-being. Azlan put the work in to keep moving forward. I am proud of him and excited to see him advance in fencing.”

Recently, Azlan moved up to one of the highest levels in fencing. At the Junior Olympics in February, he placed in the top 16 in his section. As he shares, “Athletes put a lot of strain on their bodies. With Emerson’s Sports Medicine and Performance on my team, I reach my goals — pain free and in top form.”

For information about Emerson’s Clough Sports Medicine and Performance program or to register for an evaluation, visit emersonhealth.org/sports.

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