Physiotherapy is one of the most common procedures undertaken by sports men and women who are looking to return to full fitness or recover from debilitating injuries. Without physiotherapists, athletes would not return to their sports after injury for a considerable amount of time, as physiotherapists look to speed up recovery rate and encourage the body to return to its usual healthy state.
People who exercise on a regular basis are likely to experience some kind of injury in the future, whether it’s a serious medical issue such as a pulled muscle, damaged ligaments or broken bones, or an injury as futile as a sore toe. However, some injuries can have a much more serious affect on an athlete’s future in their particular sport, despite the fact that it might not seem as serious as some other associated injuries.
For example, goalkeepers in football require their hands, wrists and arms to be in good shape in order to complete a ninety-minute football match. Should they merely damage this particular area of the body in any way, they could be out for over a month. However, outfield players are often bandaged up and allowed to continue on the same day of a hand injury.
Physiotherapists are regularly called upon so that athletes can reach a stage where the recovery process incorporates their training programme, providing them with the opportunity to improve themselves throughout their recovery phase. Here are some of the ways physiotherapy is customised to suit a specific sport:
Tennis players require the use of a variety of different muscles throughout their body in order to take part in the sport, whilst they also rely heavily on their speed, power and agility. Some of the most important areas of the body for any tennis player are the arm, elbow and shoulder joints, as this is where the most physical power has to be concentrated.
One of the most common injuries associated with the sport is tennis elbow, which can also come about as a result of bending the elbow repeatedly in other activities such as gardening, painting or playing the violin. Tennis elbow causes the tendons in the forearm to strain and unfortunately, tendons take quite some time to heal.
Physiotherapists will often look to address the cause of the injury and recommend that no further tennis or other racquet sports be played in the near future. They will then carry out a few manual therapy techniques, including massages to reduce stiffness and relieve some of the pain. They may also provide you with a brace should the pain be too severe upon movement.
Physiotherapy for rugby players is essential, especially as the sport involves contact and aggression. Whilst many sports, including tennis, will have physio’s standing by to provide treatment during a match, rugby is a sport that requires physio’s to be on their toes at all times. However, this is still one of the least important jobs that a physio will have.
As is the case with any sport, physiotherapists in rugby are needed mostly to help prevent injury. Due to the fact that it can be quite difficult to identify the reasons behind an injury in the middle of a scrum, physiotherapists in rugby often have to ask the players exactly what happened and where the pain is emanating from.
As physios are required to be available during a game of Rugby, their job is hugely substantial. Once a game is over they will have to assess players who report injuries and carry out physiotherapy techniques to ensure the injury isn’t aggravated. What’s more, injuries are commonplace in the sport, meaning physios are often in high demand.
Football is famous for bringing many previously unknown and complicated injuries to light. Both David Beckham and Wayne Rooney have famously damaged tendons in their foot, whilst muscle ruptures and ligament damage are regularly referred to in modern media.
Physiotherapy in football is similar to that of rugby, in that injuries are commonplace and often have to be treated instantaneously. The difference is that rugby is far more aggressive, meaning serious injuries are often less prepared for. Unlike in rugby, physios can only assess a player’s fitness once the referee decides to stop play.
Injuries in football are very common and can occur throughout the body. In most cases, muscles are overused and strained or pulled in the legs, with the hamstring, calf and quadriceps being most affected. To combat the recurrence of lower body injuries in football, physios will often focus on leg strengthening exercises; exercises that help to relax the muscles and strengthen bones and joints.
Golf is an immensely popular game with amateurs, which has resulted in many people with different fitness levels visiting physiotherapists in the hope of perfecting their swing, as well as dealing with associated muscle injuries.
Golf is a sport that requires a strong, well-drilled upper body movement in order to play professionally, so many physiotherapists look to encourage strength training in the arms, shoulders and back. However, amateurs are often affected over time by poor swing consistency, resulting in various injuries throughout their playing time.
Physiotherapists often apply muscle strengthening techniques when dealing with golfing injuries, which can range from a simple muscle sprain to back problems and spinal injuries. Once the muscles have fully recovered, a physio might introduce an alternative swing method to practice which negates the likelihood of future injuries.
Having suffered a couple sports related injuries, Mike James has personal experience of physiotherapy and writes for The Therapy Centre, a multi-practice therapy centre based in mid-Sussex and offering varied treatments and exercise programmes.