Do you play sports? People who engage in athletic physical movement, whether it be at a professional or social sporting level, place their bodies, muscles, joints and bones under increased stress and have the potential for injury no matter their age or fitness level. As an athlete, it is important to not only treat any injuries as they occur, to avoid more serious and permanent damage, but to understand how to prevent issues associated with your chosen sport and types of movement that it requires.
What Is Sports Physiotherapy?
Sports Physiotherapy is the specialised branch of physiotherapy which deals with injuries and issues related to sportspeople. Sports injuries do differ from day-to-day injuries as athletes typically require high-level performance and demand placed upon their body.
Sports Physiotherapy helps to treat athletes who are more prone to injury due to the high intensity of the sports they play. Sports Physiotherapy can:
- Provide tailored training plans
- Treat sports-related injuries
- Provide hands-on treatment to maximise performance
- Help prevent injury
What Does Sports Physiotherapy Treat?
Sport Physiotherapy can be used as a healing process as well as a preventive measure and a means of conditioning. The range of sports injuries aided by physiotherapy is vast but is primarily focused on the treatment of muscular pain, strains and the rehabilitation process following fractures and breaks in the bones or severe muscle or ligament tears.
Muscular Pain – Usually aches and pains can be eased with intensive massage therapy which will reduce tension around the affected muscles, reduce stiffness and increase blood flow to warm the muscles. Most professional sports players have massages frequently; this helps to reduce tension as well as keeping the muscles in optimum condition; this will reduce the possibility of injury in the future.
Strains – Strains can be painful but usually wear off in a short period of time. If the strain is more serious and limits or prohibits muscle movement, physiotherapy may be necessary but should be carried out after a period of 72 hours; this gives time for the injury to subside slightly. After this, the Physiotherapist may massage the area gently and use specific exercises to encourage blood flow and muscle movement.
Muscle Tears – A muscle tear can put an athlete out of action for a long period of time. During the healing process, physiotherapy can help to manage pain and increase strength and flexibility in the affected area by means of gradual exercise and stretching. Massage and electrotherapy will generally be effective in facilitating the healing process.
Fractures and Breaks – Following a fracture or a break the area will need to heal. Once the healing process is underway, physiotherapy may be used to build up muscle strength and restore nerve activity. Exercises and stretches will gradually help to restore the affected area to normal but this process may take a long time particularly if the break was complex and affected a major bone such as the femur. Physiotherapists will gradually increase the amount of physical exercise the patient does which will build up strength and flexibility and increase the range of movement.
Repetitive Strain Injuries – Conditions such as tennis elbow may require physiotherapy. This treatment will aim to control and reduce pain and decrease the amount of swollen tissue surrounding the elbow joint. Further treatment may also include specific exercises and pain management techniques.
What Are The Benefits Of Sports Physiotherapy?
Some of the ways in which Sports Physiotherapy can help athletes include:
- Injury Prevention – Regular visits to a 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 an 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.
- Pain Relief – Physiotherapists are knowledgeable in their treatment of injury, which allows them to assess and target the source of pain. A Physiotherapist can provide immediate pain relief by providing treatment for pain, depending on the nature of the injury. This can include:
– Hot or cold packs
– Taping certain areas of the body
– Hands-on treatment
– Dry needling
- Specific Treatment Plans – Physiotherapy assists athletes to design a focused training plan specific to areas of weakness and can make adjustments for current or previous injury limitations. Physiotherapists work 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.
- Treatment of Injury – A sports injury cannot always be prevented and unfortunately it occurs to many athletes. 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.
- Cardio 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.
- Supports Relaxation – Having a healthy body can lead to a happier and healthier individual, making a well-rounded sports person. Hands-on treatment with Sports Physiotherapy 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.
- Muscle & Joint Flexibility – Increasing muscle and joint flexibility is a key component of treatment with a Physiotherapist. Improved flexibility results from the exercises performed which can lead to a greater chance of preventing injury.