In celebration of National Athletic Training Month, Rams Physical Therapist/Assistant Athletic Trainer Byron Cunningham opened his doors and gave us with a glimpse inside the team’s athletic training room.
STLOUISRAMS.COM: What are you up to now that the team is in the offseason?
CUNNINGHAM: We’re still rehabbing players that are coming off injuries from this past season. In addition to that, we’re in the process of completing medical evaluations of prospective players that did not attend the NFL Combine.
STLOUISRAMS.COM: Can you explain the exercise featured in the video?
CUNNINGHAM: Our intern Nick Gastorf is performing a “sidelying external rotation with a side plank,” an exercise that focuses on contralateral stability. From a biomechanical standpoint, the exercise is done against gravity and what I like the most is that it adds a component of core activation. A strong core is what you need to play football and it’s equally as important when it comes to injury prevention.
STLOUISRAMS.COM: What do you enjoy the most about your job?
CUNNINGHAM: Being able to take a player from injury, through the entire rehabilitation process and getting them back onto the field and playing at high level again is probably the most enjoyable part of my job.
STLOUISRAMS.COM: Why is National Athletic Training Month important?
CUNNINGHAM: I think we still need to raise awareness about our profession on all levels. Injuries don’t just happen in pro sports so it’s important that we have athletic trainers available on the youth stage covering their respective sports. Our athletes need to be taken care of early on in their lives, so I hope National Athletic Training Month can be a platform for us to make that happen.
Cunningham joined the St. Louis Rams athletic training staff as a physical therapist/assistant athletic trainer in 2010 after spending the previous year with the Minnesota Vikings as a seasonal assistant athletic trainer. Prior to entering the NFL, he served as head athletic trainer for football at the University of Illinois and at Bishop McNamara Catholic High School in Kankakee, Ill.
Before working at McNamara High, he worked with NFL Europe’s Rhein Fire as an assistant athletic trainer in 2004, where he met his wife, Lakesha. They have two children – daughter, Ashley, and son, Aaron. Cunningham is a native of Mobile, Ala. and earned his bachelor’s degree in physical therapy from Florida A&M University in 1998 and a master’s in sports medicine from the United States Sports Academy in 2002.