Giving Athletes an Edge
David Lipetz, M.S.P.T. ’94
School of Health Sciences and Practice
Helping Olympic athletes achieve distinction is part of the daily routine of David Lipetz, M.S.P.T. ’99. He helps his patients achieve personal greatness with a sound body free of injury. As director of One Physical Therapy, Lipetz works with top-tier athletes of every sport from ballet to baseball pledging to improve power, speed and coordination. Inspiration can strike him at any time as he continues to invent, create and move the boundaries of physical therapy.
As a punter for his high school football team, David Lipetz, M.S.P.T. ’99, worked with a physical therapist—not to treat an injury, but to learn how to best swing his leg, strategizing with mind and body for every kick. It was his father’s idea. A health and physical education teacher, the elder Lipetz wanted to expand his son’s training beyond watching football videos and learning where the ball should land. “My therapist had never kicked a football, but he was able to completely change my form and mold me into something great just through his understanding of the body in motion,” Lipetz recalls. “He talked to me about weight distribution, alignment, keeping my body square. It sparked an interest in physical therapy that stuck with me.”
By the time Lipetz played football at Rutgers University, where he studied exercise science, “physical therapy became a way of life, and an easy transition into a career. New York Medical College was my launching pad.” Lipetz says he chose the College for its “problem-based approach to teaching. It’s more analytical and less spoon-fed than [other programs:] ‘here’s a textbook, read a chapter, we’ll quiz you.’” His professors encouraged him to specialize after graduation, so Lipetz earned credentials in spinal disorders at the renowned McKenzie Institute based out of New Zealand, and became certified as an orthopedic clinical specialist by the American Physical Therapy Association. Working for a decade in California, Lipetz taught at the University of Southern California, and worked closely with UCLA’s podiatric surgery team as a consultant for non-operative and operative foot and ankle disorders.
Now as the director of One Physical Therapy, a private practice on Long Island, Lipetz works with top-tier athletes of every sport, from ballet to baseball, pledging to help them improve power, speed and coordination—whether through bursts of “explosive energy” or powerful lever motions.
“I’m able to help athletes just by observing them and understanding biomechanics—how their body can and should move,” he says.
In 2009, Lipetz was recruited by the U.S. Figure Skating’s division of Athlete High Performance to become part of an elite sports medicine consultant group to the U.S. Olympic Figure Skating Team. The group collaborates with other therapists, coaches, physicians and even manufacturers to optimize performance through biomechanics: honing technique, preventing injury, building strength and recovering effectively. He even helped design a figure skate boot based on biomechanics.
Lipetz worked with former Olympic skater Emily Hughes and now helps Olympic hopeful Samantha Cesario, “keeping her body sound and as free of injury as possible.”
Per one skater’s request, he designed a training platform that would simulate on-ice muscle contraction patterns through angulation and pitch. From its beginnings five years ago in his basement, the coaching tool known as The Off-Ice Edge holds a patent and has sold all over the world to help skaters strengthen specific musculature pertinent to explosive movements, maintain control and enhance the brain-body connection that is crucial in athletics. Last year Lipetz designed another platform, the Tennis Balance Board, for aces to condition their bodies off-court. “The balance board cues their brain to understand where the weight distribution should be in their foot.” And the inspiration to design equipment for other sports could strike anytime. “I’m motivated, hungry to learn,” he says. “This was the message of my education.”