An Interview with Keith Parmenter: The Man in South Florida Who Keeps the Top Tennis Players Injury Free
Today’s post is another gem from coach Todd Widom. Enjoy!
I thought it would be very interesting for you to read about how athletes cure some ailments and how the bodywork specialists can get these athletes cured at an extremely fast rate compared to general medicine. Being the son of a foot and ankle surgeon, when I was younger I would watch ESPN SportsCenter before school and be amazed how quickly some of the athletes could recover from injuries that looked quite severe. While I was on the ATP Tour, I was often told by doctors to have an MRI, rest, ice, have injections, wear a boot on my foot, or have surgery. This advice was from the top surgeons in South Florida that see elite athletes in all sports. As a professional athlete, there is no time to waste guessing what an injury is and sitting at home resting while taking anti-inflammatory medications or having injections to mask the pain in hopes of recovering after a certain number of weeks. Unless you absolutely need surgery, I can tell you that there are solutions, and professionals can cure issues in a matter of minutes without surgery, injections, or pills.
This article is an interview with one of my very good friends who cures athletes’ ailments on a daily basis in South Florida. I was introduced to Keith Parmenter when I had a knee injury in 2005 that multiple orthopedic surgeons could not solve. I had multiple MRI’s and saw the best surgeons in South Florida and they all were baffled at what was wrong with me. It was time to think outside the box and see a bodywork specialist who deals in muscles and tissues. I was one of Keith’s first professional tennis players to have regular treatments and it really opened my eyes and taught me about the body and how to cure many issues that hamper athletes.
Keith was a top notch athlete himself growing up in South Florida as a highly competitive swimmer. He swam for 19 years and as a junior swimmer he was a record holder in multiple events in the International Swimming Hall of Fame and an All American in college. Having this background as a phenomenal athlete, he understands the mind and body relationship than just someone who learned the muscular skeletal system out of a book in school. On a daily basis, he sees all types of people ranging from a child to a geriatric and a world class athlete to a person who has a 9 – 5 job. He sees professional athletes in all major sports and has done so for 23 years. At any time, you could see these top notch athletes in his office receiving treatment so that they can return to their sport.
So what exactly does Keith Parmenter actually do on a daily basis that cures these athletes so quickly? Keith specializes in Rolfing. You then ask, what exactly is Rolfing? Rolfing is realigning the body by stripping muscle fibers and using cell memory to track with proper biomechanics. In other words, he is breaking down tissues to put them back in place because they have become misaligned over time. For example, when you look at an infant, they have perfect musculature as they do not have any muscles out of place. Over time, whether you are an athlete or not, the tissues can become misaligned which can cause pain and in some circumstances, severe pain. Keith will strip the muscle fibers so that the body is back in alignment. You are probably thinking that stripping muscle fibers sounds painful, and you are right, it can be very painful depending on the severity of the injury or the body part becoming realigned.
I hope you enjoy my interview with Keith Parmenter.
Todd Widom: What is Rolfing and why is it so beneficial for tennis players?
Keith Parmenter: Rolfing allows muscle memory to make the muscles track properly. It increases range of motion. 90% of the injuries are due to improper tracking. An example of this is Osgood-Schlatter disease which is due to improper tracking of the knee joint and it is usually caused by tight hamstrings.
TW: What are some of the common injuries that you see on a daily basis with tennis players?
KP: Most of the injuries I deal with are strains and sprains of the muscular system.
TW: What do you think is the reason tennis players come to see you?
KP: The reason I see not only a great deal of tennis players, but also many other athletes is that they have a lack of range of motion and flexibility.
TW: What can the players do to not have to come to see you?
KP: Athletes in all sports need to warm up properly, possess proper techniques, and recover from their workouts properly. This should include stretching, ice baths, and proper protein intake.
TW: What types of training causes injuries so that the tennis players need treatment from you?
KP: Many of the tennis players I see are overtraining, doing improper weight training, not warming up properly, and not cooling down properly. Many junior tennis players are wasting too many hours on the court overtraining.
TW: How can the athletes heal so quickly with your treatments compared to conventional medicine?
KP: Strains and sprains cause inflammation which is glue like for muscles and that causes muscles to stick together and that causes a decrease in range of motion. Rolfing breaks up the muscles so they can properly heal and track and the athlete then has proper range of motion and a decrease in inflammation.
TW: What is your philosophy behind strength training for young junior tennis players?
KP: I think it is absolutely worthless. If you take a look at Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer, they have incredible power from range of motion, agility, and speed. A 15 year old will get much stronger by natural physiology by 18 years old. Stretch cord training is the optimum way to train for the kids. Weight training will close the growth plates before the natural time.
TW: What is your philosophy behind heavy strength training for young junior tennis players?
KP: Free weights or any weights at all will close the growth plates prematurely. That is why I believe in isometric training because that type of training will leave the growth plates open.
In closing, Keith has been a very close friend of mine for over a decade. He was instrumental to me going through bodywork school when I retired from the ATP Tour. Going through the schooling helped me understand the muscular system and how to minimize risk to any of the athletes I train on a daily basis. It is because of Keith’s persistence, I went to bodywork school and became one of the only tennis professionals in the world who is legally allowed to work on athletes and cure ailments that they may have. My tennis career was riddled with injuries and it is because of this that I take the health of the players I train very seriously. I am proud to say that I have never had any of my students have any type of serious injuries that have taken them off of the tennis court for any substantial amount of time. Proper technique, training methods, nutrition, and bodywork are essential for these athletes to stay healthy and continue to work at their craft. The vast majority of tennis players I have trained see Keith regularly to stay healthy because tennis is a very tough sport and the students I train put in some very tough hours on the court and in fitness drills. Many of you reading this article have children that have probably seen Keith and if you are a parent who is in south Florida with your junior tennis player, there is no one I would recommend more than Keith Parmenter for nonsurgical ailments.