Due to circumstances of COVID-19, APTA NEXT transformed our beloved NEXT conference virtual. At PT Pintcast, we decided to kick things off with a NEXT Virtual Happy Hour. 

Matt Tuttle is the Lead Sports Scientists and Physical Therapist of the Denver Nuggets.

Matt discusses how the Nuggets have adjusted since the beginning of COVID-19.

He released an article in BJSM “How to Fix Problems of Exercise Prescription in the NBA: Challenges & Tips to Move Forward: https://blogs.bmj.com/bjsm/2020/05/05/how-to-fix-the-problems-of-exercise-prescription-in-the-nba-challenges-and-tips-to-move-forward/?fbclid=IwAR2UVIGsoLZiJV64YlFix44qTO23d1sgZ_D1tvBqm-R-ObJ0dlYKsJTeup4

One main point noted from this article was neuromuscular skeletal care takes longer than the preseason duration length. He discusses the importance of loading appropriately while preventing future injury.

Matt gives his definition of micro dosing exercise and how it has benefited NBA players throughout the season.


“We need to be better as a population about acceptance and equality. Working together and loving each other as humans.” – MATT 



Challenges faced by sports professionals

In this article, we discuss the challenges faced by sports professionals and their teams during the current hiatus of live sports events. One such professional is Matt, a lead sports scientist and physical therapist at the Denver Nuggets. He shares his insights on how the team is coping with the current situation and preparing for an uncertain future.

Matt highlights the difficulties for both the public and professionals involved in sports, as they are deeply committed to their work. Currently, only four players are allowed in the building at a time, as they prepare for a potential return to the season. Despite rumors about the season’s fate, the team has been proactive in maintaining their fitness levels. Strength coaches have ordered Pelotons for the athletes to maintain cardiovascular fitness, which is essential for injury prevention.

The timing of the return to the season is crucial, as it determines how much preparation is enough and how much is too much. Matt has co-authored an article in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, which discusses the challenges of exercise prescription in the NBA and offers tips to move forward. The article focuses on three main areas: the preseason, in-season strength training, and recovery.

In recent years, the NBA’s preseason has become significantly shorter, with only three to four preseason games and an official duration of about three weeks. The short duration presents a challenge for athletes, as their bodies need more time to adapt. Players often arrive in town early to participate in unofficial workouts and build up their strength.

In-season strength training is another critical aspect of an athlete’s routine. However, it can be challenging to balance the demands of traveling, media obligations, and sponsor commitments with maintaining optimal physical fitness. The article highlights that although athletes may physically recover within 24 hours, self-reported fatigue suggests they need 48 hours to feel fully recovered.

In summary, sports professionals like Matt and the Denver Nuggets are facing unprecedented challenges during this hiatus. Adapting to the current situation and preparing for an uncertain future requires a delicate balance of maintaining fitness levels, ensuring adequate recovery, and navigating a shortened preseason.

Potential Improvement: Individualized Training Programs

The current situation also presents an opportunity for sports professionals and their teams to reevaluate their training and recovery strategies. By reflecting on the challenges faced during the hiatus, they can develop more effective and resilient plans for the future.

One potential area for improvement is individualized training programs. By tailoring workouts to each player’s specific needs, strengths, and weaknesses, teams can optimize performance and reduce the risk of injury. This approach would require close collaboration between sports scientists, strength coaches, and physiotherapists to monitor players’ progress and adjust their programs as needed.

Another aspect to consider is mental health and well-being. The hiatus has likely affected athletes’ mental state, given the uncertainty surrounding the season’s return and the disruption of their usual routines. Sports teams could benefit from incorporating mental health support, such as access to sports psychologists, mindfulness training, or stress management techniques, into their overall training plans.

Furthermore, the use of technology can play a crucial role in enhancing the effectiveness of training and recovery methods. Wearable devices, such as heart rate monitors and sleep trackers, can provide valuable insights into each player’s physical condition and recovery needs. By analyzing this data, coaches and sports scientists can make better-informed decisions about training intensity, frequency, and duration to promote optimal performance and recovery.

In addition, teams could explore alternative methods for maintaining fitness and minimizing injury risk during periods of uncertainty or limited access to facilities. Some options may include virtual or remote training sessions, at-home workout plans, or the use of online resources for nutrition and recovery guidance.

Lastly, fostering a strong sense of teamwork and camaraderie during the hiatus can help maintain players’ motivation and morale. Regular communication, virtual team-building activities, or group workout sessions (when safe and feasible) can contribute to a positive team culture, which is essential for high performance.

In conclusion, while the current hiatus presents significant challenges for sports professionals and their teams, it also offers an opportunity to reevaluate and improve their training and recovery strategies. By focusing on individualized training programs, mental health support, technology integration, alternative fitness methods, and strong team culture, teams like the Denver Nuggets can emerge from this period stronger and more resilient than ever before.

Recovery in the NBA

In the NBA, athletes often need to recover quickly due to the packed schedule of games. Research from other sports suggests that full recovery can take up to 72 hours, which is challenging for NBA players who might play three to four games a week. In-season training is a balancing act, and the use of blood flow restriction (BFR) sessions can help with physical and metabolic adaptations without causing undue fatigue.

It is important to understand the changes that occur during the NBA season and how physiology courses can inform clinical practice. Keeping athletes strong and at the top of their game is essential, especially when there is not much time between games. Microdosing exercise can help protect against the typical stresses players face.

However, the strength and conditioning setup is not always perfect. Often, strength coaches in the NBA are not given the respect they deserve, and sometimes they have to work out in hotel gyms. While they stay in nice hotels, the gyms may not be up to par. Teams are usually familiar enough with each other that they can use each other’s weight rooms pregame to get a lift or some conditioning in.

Focusing on sleep and nutrition is key to recovery, and the NBA is moving in a positive direction in terms of recovery. Teams are starting to prioritize overnight stays, which can provide a better environment for rest and recovery. This change is not only a performance decision but also a financial one. Injury risk increases with a decrease in sleep, and having a player who makes millions of dollars a year out for months due to injury can have severe financial consequences.

In conclusion, load management, recovery modalities, and proper sleep and nutrition are essential for NBA athletes. By understanding the physiological and practical aspects of these factors, teams can improve player performance and reduce injury risk.