Body Mechanics: How Magic Veteran D.J. Augustin Stays Fast with Physical Therapist Fabrice Gautier
LOS ANGELES -- On a rainy January day, D.J. Augustin welcomes Fabrice Gautier into his room at The Ritz-Carlton in downtown LA for his first treatment with the physical therapist and European osteopath. But the session between the Orlando Magic point guard and the “Body Mechanic” has been a long time coming.
In 2009, after his rookie season with the then-Charlotte Bobcats, D.J. partnered with T-Mobile to conduct postgame interviews at the NBA Finals. There, Fabrice happened to be celebrating in the Los Angeles Lakers’ victorious locker room with another D.J.—his client, big man D.J. Mbenga. Amid the champagne showers following L.A.’s win over the Magic, D.J. Augustin and Fabrice first met, however briefly.
Over the ensuing years, D.J. heard plenty about Fabrice’s “magic” hands from his teammates and friends around the league, including Joakim Noah, Boris Diaw and Evan Fournier. At long last, the New Orleans native would get to feel for himself what all the fuss has been about.
Fabrice Gautier demonstrates a balancing exercise for D.J. Augustin inside The Ritz-Carlton in downtown Los Angeles. (Aaron Massarano)
Though D.J. had met Fabrice himself years earlier, and shared a locker room with two of his clients in Orlando (Evan and Nikola Vucevic), his reconnection to “The Flying Osteopath” came courtesy of the guard's Houston-based trainer, Jay Sutaria.
“My trainer that I work with in the offseason met Fabrice at a conference in Chicago,” D.J. tells CloseUp360.
“He saw me on Instagram,” Fabrice adds, “but we met in Chicago.”
“So he told me about Fabrice, and I didn't even know Evan and Vooch worked with [Fabrice] until I got back with the team when the season started,” D.J. says. “Fabrice sent me some of the Waffs. I see Evan using it all the time. I have to do a better job of doing it with Evan. I should just jump in when he's doing it.
“You can't prevent injuries, but you can kind of speed up the recovery process by staying on top of your body and stuff.”
Despite Fabrice’s frequent visits to Orlando to work on Evan, D.J. had to wait for the right opportunity to arise on the road in order to arrange his own session.
“The timing wasn't there,” D.J. says. “So I was, like, I might as well see him while I’m here [in LA] and try to get fixed.”
“He's just great at what he does. [He] gets guys back quicker and feeling great. That's the biggest thing," D.J. says. "When you're playing, if you can feel great out there and nothing's bothering you, you can play great.
“I know he also works with Joakim Noah, who I actually played with in Chicago about five years ago. Some of the best guys in the league work with him, so you know he's obviously doing something right.”
For D.J., those results speak for themselves.
“When you see guys that you actually know, and that actually perform well and take care of their bodies, working with [Fabrice], you know they're doing it for a reason,” he says. “So it means a lot.”
“I've always kind of been big on taking care of my body and doing the right thing to be able to perform the older I got,” D.J. says. “I'm not the tallest player. I'm actually one of the smallest players in the league. I need my speed and quickness to be able to still have a job. So for me to have my speed and quickness on the court, I gotta be in the best shape I can be and don't have any nagging injuries lingering around stopping me from being able to move how I want to move on floor.”
When it comes to staying healthy, D.J. has taken as many cues from his teammates as from at least one Hall of Famer he played against.
“Seeing guys that I looked up to when I first got in the league, like Steve Nash for example. He's always taking care of his body and he played until he was 40 years old,” D.J. says. “I don't want to play 'til I'm 40, but I still want to be able to play for as long as I want to play and play at the highest level I can play instead of just being in the league.
As the session begins, Fabrice goes over his assessment of D.J.’s body.
“First priority is to realign the body because [as] you prepare the body, you build on the foundation, and [recovery] happens quicker once you make sure the joints and the biomechanic functions,” Fabrice explains. “He sprained his ankle a week ago, so we definitely have to work on that. We don’t want to let an injury adapt, so that’s another priority. And then we’re gonna try to release his right neck and shoulder.”
Fabrice's Techniques with D.J.
Fabrice performs an initial test of tissular attraction, checking balance and assessing the different lines of tension with D.J.'s eyes closed.
Checking the restriction of mobility in his left knee, for the small accessory movement on his proximal tibia fibular joint (compression anterior and posterior gliding).
Positioning him in order to fix a sacroiliac dysfunction.
Assessing and fixing his foot restriction of mobility.
(Photos by Aaron Massarano)
It doesn’t take long for D.J. to notice the effects of Fabrice’s work.
“I already feel a release and it's only been like 15 minutes, and this is my first time seeing him,” D.J says. “I've been having some injuries lingering on a little bit. So just trying to see if they can kind of go away, so I can play at my full potential.
“I feel like if this was a continuous thing throughout the season for me, I probably wouldn't have any issues playing and doing great on the floor.”
“You're not going to fix everything in one session,” Fabrice adds. “But if I can at least fix his problem here that he's complaining about in the knee, and he doesn't feel it anymore and fixes the ankle, that'd be a pretty good session. And over time, you build trust and you get battle tested.”
When asked if he would see Fabrice during an upcoming trip to treat Evan in Orlando, D.J. doesn’t hesitate.
“Oh yeah, I’m definitely making time,” he says. “I got three little ones, so it's hard for me to break free when I'm home. But yeah, I’m definitely going to make time.”