Located in Arlington, Virginia, MMA & Sports Rehab has been serving the surrounding community for over five years. Originally from Nepal, Dr. Ujjwal Shakya, PT, DPT, DMT, SCS, is a Doctor of Physical Therapy, and the owner of the clinic. A practicing martial artist, he also is a Doctor of Manual Therapy and Board Certified Sports Specialist. Last year, the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) prominently featured MMA & Sports Rehab and their work with mixed martial artists. In the April 2018 edition of the professional magazine, PT In Motion, Dr. Ujjwal was highlighted in an article entitled Working With Combat Athletes.
Blending Martial Arts and Physical Therapy
With an emphasis on treating sports injuries, chronic pain, and various facets of rehabilitation, MMA & Sports Rehab provides a variety of different treatment options for patients. While spending a day observing at the clinic, Dr. Ujjwal utilized specific techniques, including manual therapy, dry needling, IASTM (Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization) and myofascial release therapy. I was able to see how these techniques and accompanying assessments were implemented in a real-life setting during a day of observation. MMA & Sports Rehab encompasses a unique niche, including treating different populations, active individuals, and mixed martial artists.
Observations and History
Throughout the day, I was able to see a variety of different upper and lower extremity injuries from all across the spectrum. Each week, many patients from various walks of life step through the doors, including younger athletes, older patients, active adults, and MMA fighters. In the early stage of his career, Dr. Ujjwal offered physical therapy services at a mobile clinic located two doors down, right inside the gym of Pentagon MMA. To date, Dr. Ujjwal continues to offer extensive treatment for mixed martial arts fighters and also sports rehabilitation for active individuals. In 2017, Dr. Ujjwal opened his own clinic, conveniently located steps away from Pentagon MMA, where he continues to provide exceptional physical therapy treatment.
Balancing PT and Martial Arts
Working as a physical therapist leads to a busy lifestyle, and Dr. Ujjwal often trains at the gym during his lunch break. With a full schedule of weekly classes, including Muay Thai (Kickboxing/Thai Boxing), Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and Judo, it’s clear that Pentagon MMA certainly means business. Having a martial arts background of my own, including growing up studying tae kwon do, and later Filipino Martial Arts, and capoeira, I was eager to learn more from Dr. Ujjwal regarding his diverse experience. While some may not be familiar with the movement patterns of various martial art forms, Dr. Ujjwal has practiced Muay Thai for many years. His understanding of Muay Thai and other martial art forms help to create a unique perspective for his method of treatment as both a Doctor in Physical Therapy and an martial artist. By actively training in martial arts, Dr. Ujjwal is better able to serve the surrounding community with his comprehensive ability to understand movement as a whole. Dr. Ujjwal also shared that he provides injury prevention seminars at Pentagon MMA several times a year, to help with prerehabilitation techniques for the fighters. These community outreach seminars help explain thorough prevention strategies and exercises for injuries related to combat athletes.
Treating Mixed Martial Artists
Some of the most common injuries for mixed martial arts fighters involve the knee, hip, and shoulder joints. Dr. Ujjwal explained that many joint injuries can occur from overuse. For example, Dr. Ujjwal explained that many jiujitsu fighters and grapplers often experience neck, upper back, wrist and shoulder injuries due to the rolling motions that they perform. Over the years, he has also treated many varieties of fractures, herniations and labrum tears. For the knee injuries, in particular, Dr. Ujjwal frequently helps treat medical collateral ligament (MCL) and anterior collateral ligament injuries (ACL) related injuries.
Promoting A Healthy Lifestyle
Dr. Ujjwal has years of experience in the field of physical therapy, and his patients were always smiling upon arriving to the clinic. A true educator, Dr. Ujjwal generously shared his extensive knowledge about various treatment methods. Whether he was explaining dermatomes or the purpose of IATSM, he was always patient and willing to answer any questions. Throughout the course of the day, the patients who arrived all had such positive testimonials to say about Dr. Ujjwal and his team. The focus of MMA & Sports Rehab is to help educate patients about maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and to offer extensive physical therapy options. Patients left the clinic glowing from ear to ear, and shared many words of gratitude from their personal experiences at the clinic.
During the day, I also learned from observing Jamie, a licensed PTA (Physical Therapist Assistant) on staff. She explained about some of the treatment options available, including cupping. I never experienced the treatment myself, and Jamie applied one to my forearm so I could try it out. Although it may look like it could cause some significant discomfort, it was actually not as bad as I expected. If I had to describe it, the feeling was sort of a pulling sensation, like someone grabbing a bit of your skin firmly, and then gently letting go.
Overall, it was a very informative observational experience, and it made me eager to learn more as I continue on with my professional journey. I felt grateful for the opportunity, and it was a fascinating learning experience. I was also exposed to a lot of concepts related to physical therapy, such as dry needling, cupping and IATSM. I learned a lot regarding treatment options for mixed martial artists, in particular. After completing my previous coursework in Exercise Science and Health through Montgomery College and Salisbury University, and it was especially exciting to see the assessments and treatment options performed in a real-life setting.
I have such a strong passion for martial arts and to pursue my career in physical therapy. I am currently finishing up my last semester here at The Universities of Shady Grove, and I am thankful I was able to observe and learn from Dr. Ujjwal and his team. For more information about MMA & Sports Rehab, please visit their website and Facebook page.
Written by Jade Esmeralda
All photos were used with permission from Dr. Ujjwal and MMA & Sports Rehab.