An interview with Dr. Rhoel Dejaño

In Cebu, if we speak of Sports Rehabilitation and Sports Conditioning, one of the top experts is Dr. Rhoel Dejaño. His specialty is Rehabilitation Medicine. “We are called Physiatrists, not Physical Therapists,” he says.

A certified sports conditioning coach who trained with the IGNITE360 discipline — the sports performance section of the IMG Academy (Bolletierri Tennis Academy is part of IMG) that’s based in Braddenton, Florida — Dr. Dejaño has also trained numerous teams and athletes in Cebu: CEC, Sacred Heart School-Ateneo, June Mar Fajardo, Dave Wilson Yu, the Cebu City Sports Commission, and tennis aces Noynoy Seno, Jana Pages and Kara Salimbangon, among others.

A Class-A tennis player who’s watched the US Open (Sampras and Agassi) and who considers Novak Djokovic as his favorite, Dr. Dejaño is both a sports doctor and a sports fanatic. Here’s our recent Q & A:

WORKED WITH TEAMS AND ATHLETES. I had the chance to work with CEC (the basketball team that became champions in CESAFI – from never winning a game before to being eventual champions). That was the first time I felt fulfilled after working sometime with USP as a volunteer. I offered myself to some schools before to help them out with the conditioning part of their training but hard to convince them that this was the way to go. Even now, majority still stick to the old methods of training. After CEC won, Ateneo asked me to help them out and until now I’m with them with their basketball program and football teams. The Ateneo basketball team and footbal teams won the championships in the major basketball tournaments in Cebu. Both teams will represent Cebu in the upcoming Palaro. The good thing with Ateneo is they believe in what I do and the Admin and coaching staff are very supportive. I started working with some schools but it was shortlived because, time and again, they still want to be with the old system of conditioning – eg. isolated weight training when this is not functional, ( form vs. function ) or jogging for and hour when they are not going to be long distance runners (unless youre sports require such like marathon, triathlon or cycling). Even so you can still break this up into short training periods but with more frequency.

Not a lot know that June Mar Fajardo was with us for a year way back when he was statrting out with UC. Remember that time when he was sidelined for knee injury? He was actually doing rehab and conditioning with us for a year after which upon his return he can now move more effeciently, run faster and jump higher.

Moncrief Rogado previously with USP and UC who now plays for the D League in Manila was also with me for quite some time. So is anthony Navarro from cec before ( bemedalled swimmer sa palaro ) and is now with San Beda.

Dave Wilson Yu formerly with the Ateneo hi school team also was with me. He is now with NU in manila and is presently training with Coach Schilling  in Idiana USA.

I’m also collaborating with the Cebu City Sports Commision. we already had several workshops with the local coaches especially in the grassroots level. I want to share my knowledge with them so as to improve our training methods and hopefully produce future champions. I’ve also been going around the Philippines doing workshops for those interested in this field. I have several coming up in Bacolod, Davao and Tacloban. Some universities have already asked me to help them out as they prepare for the next season.

Individuals that come to the clinic – I have Noy2 Seno, Jana Pages and Kara Salimbangon for tennis. Noy2 seno has been doing good in the junior circuits lately several basketball players from different schools. Volleyball players, golfers, almost all sports actually and even ballet dancers.

LOVE FOR TENNIS. I’ve been playing tennis since I was in grade school. Got the chance to play in some age group tournaments way back. These were usually sponsored by PNB before (maybe you’ve joined this, too). Unitl now I still play regularly. I’ve watched the U.S. Open in Flushing Meadows during the time of Agasii and Sampras. But this time my US trip schedule doesnt coincide with the US Open. I’m usually in New York every December to visit family. But I get the chance to play, though, in Flushing Meadows. Of course the experience of playing where our idols play is different. It’s like walking on hallowed grounds.. the feeling is just hard to describe.

I have several tennis players whom I admire. Roger federer for his coolness. He’s probably the most conditioned player there is. He’s been in the tour for quite sometime and haven’t had any major injuries so far. Sharapova for her grace and poise. Serena for her tenacity. Nadal for his vicious forehands; but sorry for him as his been plagued with a lot of injuries lately. Hopefully, we’ll see him back in the tour soon. But the player i admire most is NOVAK Djokovic. He’s very well conditioned that’s why he is winning almost all the major tournamnts. In professinal tennis, when you look at it skills-wise, most are probably on the same level. In the end, it boils down to who is more conditioned.

I’ve watched a few tennis tournaments in the US, some NBA games, too. Of course, locally, PBA games and especially when in Cebu I get the chance to be in the front row as I’m calld to treat their injured plyers as the games physician. In cesafi basketball, I’m also there. Thanks also to your group for bringing the Davis Cup to cebu as I get the chance to watch good tennis. Excited for the NBA game coming in October.

COMMON INJURIES? “Sprains and Strains. This involves the musculoskeletal system. This may range from cuts and lacerations to more serious ones when you have brain Injury from falls or blows, fractures, ligamentous injuries like ACL tears. This also depends on the type of sport. Most injuries happen due to lack of (or improper) training. Most people do it too soon, too fast, too heavy. Look at Abellana during Intramurals season (Aug. and Sept.) and you can see a lot of “athletes” doing “training.” During regional and division meets, we hurriedly form teams. This results in a lot of injuries. You cannot produce champions overnight. I believe that champions are made, not born. You can make a champion out of a beginner with the proper training in skills and in physical condition.”

HOW NOT TO GET INJURED. “The best way is to have proper training. That means they should be well-conditioned. Look at tennis. If you’re not well conditioned, how can you last several hours of continuous running, jumping, shifting positions? You’ll get injury if your muscles, joints and bones have not been trained to withstand all this rigors. You have to listen to your body. Once you start to feel something, especially pain, then it means something. You have to stop (rest) and, if it doesnt go away, then you have to seek professional advice. DO NOT overdo things. There is no shortcut to training. Look at our runners today. They just train for a month or two then they’re doing the full marathon. Worst, doing 3, 5 or more marathons in a year. The literature says that you need at least two years of training before your first 42K. And the most you can do is two marathons in a year. (A lot would frown on this.) You have to look long-term. You have to take care of your body; that also means proper nutrition, hydration, mental attitude and character.”

PERPETUAL SUCCOUR. “Since our clientele at Perpetual is increasing, we have plans of expanding. In the drawing plans is a 2-floor Rehab Center which is going to be the biggest in the Philippines and probably in Asia. One floor for rehab for patients and another floor dedicated solely to sports conditioning. It’s going to be a sports performance center. Thats why I have to update myself with training abroad. Come June, I’ll be in the IMG Academies in Braddenton, Florida for a week for actual coaching and get the chance to train professional atheletes.”

SCHEDULE. “I’m in Chong Hua Hospital from 10 AM to 12 noon (Cebu Rehabmedics at the Chong Hua Medical Arts building). In the afternoon, I go to Perpetual Succour Hospital from 3 to 5 PM; this is the clinical part of me. But when I train with my staff in the field, I’m usually in the courts by 5:30 AM.”

MESSAGE. “There is no shortcut to training. You can become a champion if you work hard and train properly. Having superior skills will not necessarily make you a champion. It has to be paired with a well conditioned body. As for the general population: Always listen to your body. Once you feel something — this is a red flag that something is wrong. Finally, Don’t play a sport to get fit. You have to be fit to play a sport!”

John Pages

By John Pages

I've been a sports columnist since 1994. First, in The Freeman newspaper under "Tennis Is My Game." Then, starting in 2003, with Sun.Star Cebu under the name "Match Point." Happy reading!

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