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Mark Shires, MS, ATC, PES, just completed his ninth season as an athletic trainer for the Norfolk Tides, Triple-A affiliate of Major League Baseball’s Baltimore Orioles​. This represented his 19th season overall in the Orioles organization, and he has twice been named International League Athletic Trainer of the Year. Shires also became a HawkGrips instructor in 2015. He recently shared his thoughts on integrating HawkGrips into professional practice, how they compare to other instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM) products on the market, and the benefits of taking a HawkGrips educational course.

Mark Shires ATC Baltimore Orioles HawkGrips IASTM Norfolk Tides

Mark Shires, MS, ATC, PES

How did you first learn about HawkGrips?

That’s actually a funny story. I was attending the PBATS (Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society) Symposium in Baltimore a few years ago and started talking to [HawkGrips Founder] Frank Osborne about his products. The conversation basically went like this:

Me: “You look really familiar.”

Frank: “Sorry, I don’t think we know each other.”

Me: “What’s your name?”

Frank: “Frank Osborne.”

Me: “No way, your brother’s picture was in my fraternity house (Sigma Phi Epsilon at West Chester University in Pennsylvania) and I know your sister.”

How have you incorporated the instruments into your professional practice?

​I utilize HawkGrips instruments as an adjunct to our shoulder stretch routine, as well as for every tendinopathy ​I encounter, coupled with exercise.

Are there any unique applications or innovative techniques you’d like to share?

Combining an​ electrical muscle stimulation device with the conductivity of a HawkGrips instrument to send a current that helps treat swelling/edema (read the HawkTalk Blog post about this treatment for additional insight).

​What’s the farthest from home you’ve ever taken HawkGrips?

Anywhere the Norfolk Tides bus to on road trips.​

What benefits do the instruments offer to patients and clinicians versus other treatment methods?

I’m able to treat with ​HawkGrips ​while at the same time instructing my patients in an exercise protocol. I believe as a therapist, it’s my job to get patients moving as quickly as possible. I sit here writing this as my low back is killing me. The season impinged on my workout routine, and one week into the offseason as I was getting back into it, I hurt myself. I can’t wait for my wife (fellow HawkGrips Instructor Dr. Alison Gardiner-Shires) to get home tonight and treat my back as I go through McKenzie Method and yoga exercises like child’s pose and cat-cow. I hope she is game, not like the massage therapist girlfriend from “Seinfeld.”

Can you provide details about a specific HawkGrips success story?

​Just to end this season, I had a first baseman who was making the transition to become an outfielder. He developed tibialis anterior tendinopathy due to increased load from the additional running. We treated daily with eccentric exercise and IASTM utilizing HawkGrips, and within two weeks he was pain-free.

What do you like about the instruments compared to other IASTM tools on the market?

The continual improvement and development of their products. The HGPro “Multi-Instrument” is my go-to while traveling with the team because it’s so versatile and portable. And the modifications that have been made to the new HawkGrips Handlebars, which I can’t wait to try for shoulder treatments, demonstrate a commitment to input by clinicians.

What would you say to clinicians thinking about taking a HawkGrips course?

​If you don’t learn something that you can apply the next day and have a little fun, I haven’t done my job.

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