Medically reviewed by Dr. Rabeya Afroz Shomi
What is Sports Physiotherapy?
Sports Physiotherapy is the specialised branch of physiotherapy which deals with injuries and issues related to sports people.
Sports injuries do differ to everyday injuries. Athletes normally require high level performance and demand placed upon their body, which stresses their muscles, joints and bones to the limit. Sports physiotherapists help athletes recover from sporting injuries, and provide education and resources to prevent problems.
Each sports physiotherapist usually has sport-specific knowledge that addresses acute, chronic and overuse injuries. Their services are generally available to sports men and women of all ages engaged in sports at any level of competition.
What do Sports Physiotherapists do?
A sports & exercise physiotherapist is a recognised professional who demonstrates advanced competencies in the promotion of safe physical activity participation, provision of advice, and adaptation of rehabilitation and training interventions, for the purposes of preventing injury, restoring optimal function, and contributing to the enhancement of sports performance, in athletes of all ages and abilities, while ensuring a high standard of professional and ethical practice.
Sports & exercise physiotherapists work in a variety of settings. Many work with active recreational “athletes”, social and club level sport in the clinic setting, and may attend training sessions. Sports & exercise physiotherapists with advanced knowledge and skills also work with more elite athletes, working and travelling with individuals or sports teams, integrating their services with other medical professionals, coaches, strength and conditioning personnel and other support staff . Within professional sport, many sports & exercise physiotherapists also work within sporting organisations to coordinate physiotherapy, injury prevention, rehabilitation and injury surveillance programmes.
7 Benefits of Sports Physiotherapy:
1. Immediate Relief of Pain
A sports injury physio can provide immediate pain relief by providing treatment for pain, depending on the nature of the injury. This can include providing hot or cold packs, taping certain areas of the body, hands on treatment or dry needling which can ease or relieve muscular tension. Sports physiotherapists are knowledgeable in their treatment, which allows them to assess and target the source of pain.
2. Prevent Injury
Regular visits to a sports physiotherapist is an essential part of keeping healthy for athletes. They can assess current movement and identify areas of weakness or minor inflammation which could otherwise have led to injury. They can assist with building up strength appropriate for the sports being undertaken, and in this way can prevent injury from occurring in the first place, something all athletes wish to avoid.
3. Tailored Treatment Plans - to specific clients
A sports injury physio will design a focused training plan specific to the client or athlete’s areas of weakness and can make adjustments for current or previous injury limitations. A sports physio works one-on-one to develop and challenge an athlete’s limitations, whilst building the strength of ligaments, joints, bones and muscles, in order to improve their performance. A tailored treatment plan helps an athlete to reach their full potential.
4. Promotes Relaxation
Having a healthy body can lead to a happier and healthier individual, making a well-rounded sports person. Hands on treatment by a sports physiotherapist is also effective in relaxing muscular tension. Assistance from a qualified physiotherapist gives a sports person peace of mind knowing they are in the best possible hands for their sports needs or injury management.
5. Injury Treatment
A sports injury cannot always be prevented and unfortunately it occurs to many athletes from time to time. Drawing from their vast knowledge from their training and experience, sports physiotherapists can assist with achieving a faster rate of recovery from injury and improve healing time by providing specific exercises and treatment. The types of treatments depend on the injury and its severity, as well as the physio’s knowledge of the individual.
6. Unexpected Benefits - Cardiopulmonary Training
In addition to hands on treatment and exercises, physiotherapists can also provide assistance with cardiopulmonary training to enhance cardio fitness. This practice is a beneficial tool for athletes wanting to improve endurance, breathing and build their fitness.
7. Muscle & Joint Flexibility
Increasing muscle and joint flexibility is a key component of treatment with a sports physiotherapist. Improved flexibility results from the exercises performed which can lead to a greater chance of preventing injury.
Why see a Sports Physiotherapist?
Stress on muscles, joints and bones as a result of playing sport is really common, with some having injuries and pains unique to the individual sport. If you’re a serious athlete, visiting a sports physiotherapist as part of your regime will enable you to put in your best performance and continue to compete at your dream level!
If you’re a recreational sports person and like to compete with yourself in the gym or when out running, sports physiotherapy can be a great way to enhance your performance and maybe even more importantly, keep you motivated. As one gets older, staying active is crucial, so seeing a sports physio can be invaluable in keeping you moving – for fitness, strength, balance, coordination