Sports physiotherapy is a speciality within physiotherapy which is dedicated to the assessment and treatment of injuries related to sports and exercise at all levels and ages. Whether the sport is running the Melbourne marathon, playing football or netball for your local club or climbing a mountain, each injury has to be considered in the context of the demands of the activity.
As well as getting athletes out of pain and back to full function, sports physiotherapists are also focused on the performance and development of the individual.
“The goal of sports physiotherapist it to get their clients out of pain asap but also performing at their very best.”
Sports injuries are different compared to normal day to day injuries. The demands of sport on the body are higher than everyday activities such as walking. This places more pressure on the joints, ligaments, muscles and tendons and can make them prone to injury.
WHAT DOES A SPORTS PHYSIOTHERAPIST DO?
Sports physiotherapists have a multi-faceted role which includes:
Assessment of injuries – this requires careful and comprehensive questioning about the current injury and previous injuries and will involve a thorough examination of the body.
Identifying the root cause of the injury – often the root cause is not where the pain is located. Thorough assessment will identify the factors that have contributed to the injury.
Development of an individualised treatment plan – this will address all weaknesses and imbalances. We want an athlete to come back stronger from their injury to prevent re-occurrence.
Improve the strength and mechanics of other parts of the body. This is essential especially if an athlete needs a period of time away from sport whilst they recover.
Applying realistic timescales for their return to sport. This is a skill and only comes with experience. Injuries heal at different rates in different people.
Working as part of a multi-disciplinary team. This may be the immediate team e.g. coach, team manager, sports doctor or parent or it may require a referral to the extended team e.g. sports psychologist or dietitian.
Injury prevention – identifying all the modifiable risk factors to an injury and implementing a plan to address them.