From Court to Clinic: Dr. Abhinav Gautam, Founder of Vitruvia Medical Center and RELIEF, on Enhancing Pickleball Performance and Recovery

Dr. Abhinav Gautam Founder of Vitruvia Medical Center and RELIEF

Pickleball has rapidly become one of the most popular sports in the United States, with millions of players nationwide and a growing number of courts springing up in communities across the country. This sport, which blends elements of tennis, badminton, and ping pong, has captured the attention of people of all ages, driving a significant surge in participation and investment.

The rise of pickleball is not just a passing trend; it's a phenomenon that has seen professional leagues, substantial prize money, and major endorsement. With its easy-to-learn nature and strong social aspect, the sport has fostered a robust community and an increased demand for pickleball-specific sports medicine and physical therapy. As more people flock to this dynamic game, the need for specialized care to prevent and treat injuries and improve athletic performance has become paramount.

Justin Dages’s love affair with pickleball began about a year and a half ago, quickly becoming a significant part of his life. Playing in local tournaments, he mingled with fellow enthusiasts and professional players. Despite his impressive achievements and potential in pickleball, Dages has not pursued a full professional career due to his obligations as founder of Bolt Performance Therapy and a history of injuries.

In high school, Dages partially tore his ACL in his right knee. Dages would go on to play college baseball as a shortstop for Ohio Wesleyan University despite his knee issues. Unfortunately, in 2019, he fully tore the same ACL and partially tore the meniscus. Through diligent self-rehabilitation and staying up-to-date with new research, he managed to avoid surgery, living with a completely torn ACL while maintaining strength and stability. The meniscus issue, however, caused periodic flare-ups.

As fate would have it, Dages met Dr. Abhinav Gautam through a mutual friend at a pickleball game years later. This chance encounter proved to be pivotal for Dages’s pickleball career and overall physical health. Dr. Gautam is the founder of Vitruvia Medical Center and RELIEF regenerative therapy. With offices in Miami and NYC, Dr. Gautam's groundbreaking treatments have helped redefine rehabilitation through his unique, minimally invasive techniques. Trusted by top figures in sports, entertainment, business, and medicine, his clientele includes Tony Robbins, Mike Tyson, Miguel Cabrera, David Ortiz, and more. Dr. Gautam’s expertise in sports medicine and regenerative treatments provided the perfect complement to Dages’s self-managed rehabilitation efforts.

The first major issue Dr. Gautam addressed was Dages’s knee. The knee had been a recurring problem, with the torn meniscus causing significant discomfort. Dr. Gautam employed techniques to hydrate the meniscus, which helped improve its motion and reduce flare-ups. This treatment provided Dages with much-needed relief, allowing him to continue playing pickleball without being hindered by knee pain.

As Dages continued to play pickleball, he developed tennis elbow from overuse of his backhand. The pain in his forearm was severe, limiting his ability to play. Dr. Gautam treated this condition with injections. Despite Dages’s aversion to needles, the treatment was successful. The pain resolved completely and did not return, even after more than a year of rigorous play.

Another significant issue was plantar fasciitis, caused by the constant side-to-side movements and abrupt starts and stops typical in pickleball. This condition made it extremely painful for Dages to walk, especially after intense play. Dr. Gautam’s treatments focused on hydrating the plantar fascia and breaking up scar tissue.

These treatments did not only provide immediate relief in situations where Dages needed it to play again quickly, but also accelerated recovery between flare ups.

Dages also experienced some patellar tendinitis, which Dr. Gautam treated. In combination with Dages’s physical therapy program, his issue is 95% fixed. This comprehensive approach alleviated the pain and allowed Dages to maintain high levels of activity.

Most recently, Dages faced major hamstring issues for weeks leading up to the Miami Shores Open. Seven days before the tournament, pulled his hamstring. Six days later and one day before the tournament, using his diagnostic ultrasound, Dr. Gautam pinpointed the exact location and diagnosed Dages with an acute strain and partial tear in his hamstring. Remarkably, after a brief rehabilitation session, Dages was not only able to participate in the tournament the next day, but he also won the singles competition, followed by a silver in doubles the following day and a bronze in mixed doubles categories the day after that. To go from not being able to run for weeks to three medal placements in three days is a testament to Dr. Guatam’s regenerative treatment.

These victories added to his collection of five singles gold medals. Describing himself as an aspiring pro, Dages continues to compete in PPA and APP tours, making a name for himself in the competitive pickleball scene while running Bolt Performance.

Dages is a Doctor of Physical Therapy, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through NSCA, and founder of Bolt Performance Therapy located in South Miami. With ten years of experience in personal training and five years as a physical therapist, Dages has developed a deep understanding of athlete care and rehabilitation.

At Bolt Performance Therapy, Dages works with a diverse range of clients, from youth athletes to major league baseball players. His expertise spans injury rehabilitation, strength and conditioning, and mobility work. Recently, he has been working closely with local pickleball players, catering to both recreational players in their 60s and professional athletes.

Since meeting, Dages and Dr. Gautam have formed a natural friendship with plenty of professional crossover. They are currently exploring a collaborative venture to integrate medical treatments with physical therapy for comprehensive athlete care, creating a seamless continuum from diagnosis to treatment to rehabilitation. By combining Dr. Gautam’s expertise in diagnostic ultrasound, injections, and regenerative medicine with Dages’s proficiency in movement programming, retraining, and load tolerance, they plan to enhance recovery and performance for athletes.

This vision offers a holistic approach where an athlete's journey from injury to peak performance is managed under one cohesive framework. This integrated model ensures that athletes not only recover from injuries but also surpass their previous performance levels, achieving greater strength and functional capacity.

Justin Dages's journey in pickleball, marked by significant injuries, underscores the transformative power of Dr. Gautam's targeted treatments. From resolving knee issues and tennis elbow to managing plantar fasciitis and patellar tendinitis, Dr. Gautam’s expertise has enabled Dages to continue competing and achieving remarkable success. Looking ahead, the potential collaboration between Dages and Dr. Gautam promises to further enhance the integrated approach to athlete care and performance.

To learn more about Dr. Abhinav Gautam’s Vitruvia Medical Center and RELIEF regenerative therapy visit the website and Instagram or check out his offices in Miami and NYC.

JL Staff

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