FUNfitness is the physical therapy discipline of Special Olympics Healthy Athletes ® that addresses the ongoing health needs of Special Olympics (SO) athletes. FUNfitness provides athletes the opportunity to be screened for flexibility of hamstring, calf, shoulder rotator and hip flexor muscles; functional strength of the abdominal and lower extremity muscles; and balance. During these screenings, physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, and physical therapist or physical therapist assistant students work with athletes and coaches to improve optimal function in sports training and competition, prevention of or reduced risk for injury and recommend exercises and other helpful strategies.
At FUNfitness screenings, we learned that a large percentage of Special Olympics athletes in the U.S. have the following health-related concerns:
- 71% have flexibility problems
- 73% have balance problems
- 56% have strength problems
- Assess needs in flexibility, strength, balance and aerobic fitness;
- Teach exercises to help athletes improve identified areas of need;
- Educate participants, families and coaches about the importance of flexibility, strength, balance and aerobic conditioning in overall fitness
- Provide a hands-on opportunity for athletes to learn how physical therapists can help them improve their fitness.
Speaking with a FUNfitness Volunteer