Nationals right-handed reliever Ryan Madson detailed this week upon his return how his personal trainer, Jay Schroeder of EVO UltraFit in Phoneix, Ariz., diagnosed and treated the lumbar nerve root irritation that had kept him out of action and on the disabled list.
Schroeder employs something called an ARP (Accelerated Recovery Performance) wave machine, which uses pads that attach to Madson’s skin and shoot electrical currents through his body, helping to relieve pain and soreness. The goal is to prevent the injury from recurring.
“First he found out how I was moving incorrectly,” Madson explained. “Mimicked the pain that I was feeling on the mound, and he could drop me like that if he wanted to, and he did, so that he would know that this is the problem. And they basically reverse-engineered the problem. Adjusted the pads and we just did work, reps. Reps, a lot, lot of reps of pitching into a net. Just as hard as I could, with him turning up the power gradually so that I would have to move properly.”
Madson spent a week with Schroeder as he rehabbed from the nerve irritation. Schroeder, using slow-motion video replay, was able to pinpoint where Madson’s mechanics were breaking down, and how to alleviate the resulting pain.
“Yes, he tapes in slow motion,” Madson said. “My movements are too fast for me, so he slows it down with a video camera. He doesn’t give a lot of information, he just says ‘Throw a pitch.’ OK. ‘Throw another pitch.’ Watches the video and says ‘There you go.’ The amazing part is that he just suggests it and then takes a video, and now we are moving the right way. He says, ‘You see this? You see this?’ and I’m like ‘Yeah, yeah!.’ He sees the littlest thing. It’s very detailed.”
Madson marveled at how Schroeder was able to fix his nerve irritation issue that quickly so that the right-hander could get back with his team.
“My agent describes him as a magician,” Madson said. “But he just sees the way he wants me to move and he notices the little thing and adjusts my body and the pads and the power so that so I can move the way he wants me to move again, and when I do that there’s no pain there. So there was no healing that needed to happen, where my finger last year it was just ‘Hey, we need to heal this.’ This time it was a functionality problem. Because they scanned it and there was no signal there where my problem pain was. So he knew it was just basically a muscle wasn’t working the right way. Not holding my pelvis in the right position. So as soon as I learned how to hold my pelvis in the right way I could throw 100 mph in the net with no problem.
“And then he would adjust it, and it would drop me. So he’s pretty amazing. I give him a hug every time I leave there and say ‘Thank you very much.’ He enjoys it. He loves players that take to it and enjoy doing it. It’s not the most fun thing to do in the world. It’s painful. But he’s the reason why I am here and still playing.”
I asked Madson whether he worries that the pain will return when he is away Schroeder’s nest in Arizona and back with the team in places like Philadelphia or D.C. or Miami, without access to Schroeder’s expertise.
“Yes, that was the biggest thing. Especially condensing the treatment so quickly. That’s why I had to throw 20 to 40 pitches a day that last week or so, because (general manager Mike) Rizzo had given me a really tight goal. I wanted to hit that goal. Jay wants to hit that goal. I was willing to do the work. A lot of guys, I don’t think they would throw 40 pitches a day five days in a row. But I trust Jay that much. That even if something went wrong in my shoulder from throwing, he’d be able to fix that too. So, it takes that kind of trust in your personal trainer.”
Madson has pitched since his return. He allowed one run on one hit Aug. 27 on a Rhys Hoskins homer. But he struck out César Hernández and retired the next two batters to get out of the eighth inning in the Nats’ 5-3 series-opening win.
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Dodgers have claimed Madson off waivers and have until the end of today to work out a deal to shore up their bullpen. It will be interesting to see if this deal is made like the Daniel Murphy-to-Cubs and Matt Adams-to-Cardinals deals of last week.