Seeing Results

August 28, 2018

Last October, the Seattle Mariners hired Lorena Martin as Director of High Performance to reduce injuries. So far this season, injuries have been cut in half.

For the Seattle Mariners, the list of injured players has decreased by about 50 percent this year. As reported by an article from the Kitsap Sun, a big reason for this has been Lorena Martin, PhD, Mariners’ Director of High Performance.

“She’s made a huge impact,” said Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez, “for sure.”

In her first year with the club—and as the only person in MLB with her job title—Dr. Martin has introduced a number of changes that have contributed to the reduction in injuries. For instance, rest and recovery have been focal points. One of the ways the Mariners can get rested is with the sleep room—a windowless room that’s equipped with recliners and a couple of beds.

“We’re definitely helping them recover a lot better,” Dr. Martin said. “There’s a lot more awareness and it’s a team effort, from myself to my staff and Jerry [Dipoto, the Mariners’ Manager] being an advocate, to the players themselves being open to it.”

The players also have access to a number of technological gadgets. There are wearables to track sleep, compression shorts and shirts to track asymmetries and muscular activity, sleeves that track range of motion on pitchers, and neuromuscular stimulators for flights.

A smoothie bar is one of the changes in the players’ cafeteria. To make it more appealing, Dr. Martin gave it a tiki-bar theme.

“There’s theories that if you make it more appealing, people want to go there,” Dr. Martin said. “Sometimes there’s donuts in here, but we say, ‘Don’t eat that!’ even though they look so appealing. But you make the smoothie place more appealing and they gravitate toward it.”

In addition, Dr. Martin has been working one-on-one with players to improve their performance. Along with bringing in research to support her suggestions, she changes workouts gradually to help earn players’ trust.

“These guys all have their routines, and I’m trying to observe what is their routine,” Dr. Martin said. “Then I can see where it could be tweaked and just getting them to know me. I’m not coming in and telling them to make all these changes that raise their eye brow.

“But a lot of it with Felix [Hernandez] was, ‘Listen, this is based on physiology. It doesn’t matter if you think it’s going to work or not, you may not want it to or you think it’s not, but your physiology is your physiology and I know how your body will react to certain things based on your age, height, weight, build—but you have to give me this opportunity,’” she continued.

Working with Hernandez has been one of Dr. Martin’s biggest projects, after he sought her help in mid-May. Many of the Mariners work with private trainers, but Hernandez was looking for tips on workouts between starts.

“Her workouts are different,” Hernandez said. “She’s a little different than anybody I’ve ever worked with. But it’s been working, I feel like. I feel really good.”

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