The Sports Medicine and Performance Center at the University of Colorado Boulder is a partnership between Boulder Community Health’s former Boulder Center for Sports Medicine and the University of Colorado School of Medicine. Courtesy Boulder Community Health

New mantra: ‘Exercise is medicine’ Boulder Community Health, CU partner in new sports center

Former volleyball athlete Christina Houghtelling walks around the lobby of the Sports Medicine and Performance Center at the University of Colorado Boulder, eager to test a new black brace fitted around her right knee.

Doctors found a torn lateral meniscus in a “scope,” or arthroscopic surgery, of Houghtelling’s knee. They fitted her with the “unloading brace” to reduce stress around the knee and help the torn cartilage heal.

In a nearby room at the center, patients work on various moves with physical therapists. In yet another room, workers are putting the finishing touches on a “swim flume” pool, which provides digital feedback about a user’s swimming stroke through mirrors on the bottom of the pool and a video system.

The 28,000-square-foot center opened Aug. 18 on the second floor of the new Champions Center on the north end of Folsom Field at 2150 Stadium Drive in Boulder.

It’s a joint partnership between the staff at Boulder Community Health’s former Boulder Center for Sports Medicine at 311 Mapleton Ave., and workers at some University of Colorado School of Medicine facilities formerly located on the Anschutz campus in Aurora. The former Boulder Center for Sports Medicine leases the space from CU for an undisclosed sum, said Eric Medved, the center’s executive director.

The facility is part of the University of Colorado Athletic Department’s $156 million facilities expansion on the south end of Folsom Field. In addition to sports medicine and physical therapy, the center also offers the highest-quality sports performance equipment and its own imaging area, featuring magnetic-resonance imaging, or MRI, and two X-ray machines, Medved said.

The new space has a bigger gym than the old office and 14 private doctor-patient consultation rooms, Medved said.

Don’t be intimidated by the gleaming technology, though, said Rich Sheehan, a Boulder Community Health spokesman. The center is meant to be used by everyone in the community, from a recreational athlete training for her first triathlon to members of the CU football team, Sheehan said.

On the north side of the center, several rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows face the foothills. You can get a “bike fit” there, or have your aerobic capability tested in an exercise physiology area.

The Human Performance Lab is a place to test the new “Exercise is Medicine” trend sweeping the fitness and medical worlds, said Inigo San Millan, who came to the facility from the Anschutz Health and Wellness Center on the Anschutz campus.

“Exercise is medicine” calls for doctors and other health-care providers to include physical activity in all patient treatment plans. The global initiative managed by the American College of Sports Medicine soon will be covered by insurance, San Millan believes.

In the meantime, users pay out of pocket to use the high-tech Woodway treadmill and bicycle measurement machines. Prices are competitive with those at private sports fitness programs around Boulder, San Millan said.

Three types of athletes come in for the individualized training plans at the center, San Millan said.

Competitive athletes and local amateur athletes who wants to get better. San Millan and his compatriots use the exercise physiology measurements and blood work to create the training plans.

Recreational athletes who want to sign up for their first 10K, marathon or triathalon. “It’s their passion,” San Millan said. “Right now they run around the block, but they want to train with a purpose, and they don’t know how to train.”

People sent by their physicians who have embraced the “exercise is medicine” mantra, San Millan said. Recent studies indicate that exercise has been just as effective as medicine in lowering the incidence of some future cancers and in helping to get some chronic diseases under control, he said.

CU athletes also make their way to the center, as do some junior cycling groups in the Boulder region, said Ryan Kohler. The two men have expertise with world-class athletes for more than 20 years, including Tour de France bicyclists and winners. When it comes to the football team, “we go to them,” San Millan said.

Because of San Millan’s past work with elite cycling athletes and others, he said, he now easily pinpoints issues such as poor nutrition, excessive training and poor recovery in any athletes – just by analyzing their blood.

“This is not just sports performance. It’s health and wellness,” San Millan said of the information he provides to clients. “And who doesn’t want to be healthier?”

Former volleyball athlete Christina Houghtelling walks around the lobby of the Sports Medicine and Performance Center at the University of Colorado Boulder, eager to test a new black brace fitted around her right knee.

Doctors found a torn lateral meniscus in a “scope,” or arthroscopic surgery, of Houghtelling’s knee. They fitted her with the “unloading brace” to reduce stress around the knee and help the torn cartilage heal.

In a nearby room at the center, patients work on various moves with physical therapists. In yet another room, workers are putting the finishing touches on a “swim flume” pool, which provides digital feedback about a user’s swimming stroke through mirrors on the bottom of the pool and a video system.

The 28,000-square-foot center opened Aug. 18 on the second floor of the new Champions Center on the north end of Folsom Field at 2150 Stadium Drive in Boulder.

It’s a joint partnership between the staff at Boulder Community Health’s former Boulder Center for Sports Medicine at 311 Mapleton Ave., and workers at some University of Colorado School of Medicine facilities formerly located on the Anschutz campus in Aurora. The former Boulder Center for Sports Medicine leases the space from CU for an undisclosed sum, said Eric Medved, the center’s executive director.

The facility is part of the University of Colorado Athletic Department’s $156 million facilities expansion on the south end of Folsom Field. In addition to sports medicine and physical therapy, the center also offers the highest-quality sports performance equipment…