Interviewed by Women Who Fight
February 2019
Sue Falsone, Physical Therapist in action

You are the first female head athletic trainer in any of the four major sports in the United States. How did you come so far?

I have not always known what I wanted to do, but I always knew what I didn’t want to do.  I was always open to opportunities that came my way and surrounded myself with great people who gave me great advice when I needed it. I always worked hard and knew I was going to have to be student of any sport I worked with, really learning the language, culture, movements and recovery needs for every sport I worked with. I heard someone say, “luck is when opportunity meets preparedness”.  I would say I have been very lucky. Meaning I was very prepared when an opportunity presented itself.

What is the most challenging experience you have had in this field?

Patient care is always the most challenging! Making sure your patient achieves their goals is paramount! And it is not always easy.  Treating the whole patient is always what is it about.

Would you like to talk us through your philosophy: ‘looking at the athlete as a whole person, working with the entire body to create an optimal environment for healing and performance training’.  

My philosophy is very simple:  to support and assist the patient in regaining homeostatic balance. Whether that be biomechanically, biochemically, or biopsychosocially, that is always the goal.  Considering all aspects of the nervous system (autonomic balance), the neuromusculoskeletal system, the psyche, and how sleep and nutrition support these goals is vital for every evaluation of every patient.

educating healthcare professionals in dry needling, as well as, how to clinically Bridge the Gap from Rehab to Performance
educating healthcare professionals in dry needling, as well as, how to clinically Bridge the Gap from Rehab to Performance

You have worked with top ranked athletes in professional and Olympic Sport, how do they cope with their injuries and what is your role?  

I am there to support and guide. I offer insight and guidance to what I think is the best course of action for them to achieve their goals and provide options for them to consider. I can execute much of the plan, but if there are areas that are not my specialty, I coordinate the people who need to be involved in the best interest of the patient for them to achieve their goals.  

How do we make our training sustainable in the long run?

From a strength and conditioning perspective, we need proper periodization for training and rest.  Sleep and nutrition are key. Autonomic nervous system balance is also key.


Tell us more about the Aquatic therapy for rehabilitation and performance. Is it effective? What exactly do athletes do and for how long?

Aquatic therapy can be very useful! It is a great way to unweight the body and joints that are hurting.  It is a great way to concentrate on movement skill and with minimal loading on the body. Resistance can be varied by increasing the speed of movement and you can challenge a person by varying the depth of the water.  

What part does Personal Training have in your athletes as they recovery from injury?

I work hand in hand with the strength coach or personal trainer.  There is so much to do to make sure the recovering athlete is addressing everything from the changes in metabolic demands on the system as they recover, to maintaining strength and power in uninjured areas, to maximizing energy system development while respecting the injured area. So much to consider! It takes a team with varied expertise to get it right.

How much damage can our bodies really take before they stop working/stop being able to recover properly?

 That is the question everyone wants to know the answer to! And no one knows.  This threshold is different for everyone. If we knew this, we could prevent injury.  

What can we do to perform at our best – do we need professional help, or is there anything women can work on in their training themselves?

Professional help is always great but not always accessible or affordable for everyone.  Great resources like this web page can help educate the masses to what they can do on a daily basis to improve their own quality of life when professional help is not in immediate reach.

Sue Falsone Physical Therapist, Athletic Trainer, Strength & Conditioning Coach