If you've suffered an athletic injury, you may have been referred to a sports physiotherapist. But what exactly is sports physio?
Sports physiotherapy is a specialisation within physiotherapy aimed at treating sports people. Sports physios are highly qualified professionals who use their sport-specific knowledge to treat injuries occurring during sport, and educate athletes on ways to prevent further problems in the future.
Sports physio is different to general physiotherapy because sporting injuries are different too.
If you're an athlete, think about your regular range of activities and the level of performance you require of your body. The stress sports people place on their bones, joints and muscles often pushes their body to its limit. Acute injuries are common, and injuries related to overuse are also widespread.
So what exactly does a sports physio do? Here are some common areas of practice:
Treating acute injuries of the muscles and spine
Heat and cold therapy, also known as thermal treatment
Structured exercise programs, focused on returning function and recovery
Strength and conditioning exercises, to build healthy habits and a strong foundation
Taping and bracing
Exercise itself forms a vital part of sports physio treatment, in a number of ways. Resistance and strength conditioning exercises are used to build the foundational strength of the body, and for many athletes this begins at the outset of their career and continues throughout their sporting life. Recovery-focused exercises assist a return to the integrity of the body after injury and re-balance muscular and structural issues, and sport-specific exercises are honed to ensure athletes adopt the healthiest practices on the field to minimise the risks of reinjury.
Sports physios work one-on-one with their clients, and can also provide comprehensive management of entire teams. These professionals travel with teams on tour, addressing injuries occurring during play and ensuring recovery is rapid, to keep their clients on top.
Most importantly, sports physios aim to educate athletes. Understanding the cause of an injury helps to minimise the risk of recurrence, and a thorough understanding of injury management practices aids a speedy recovery and return to peak performance.
Sports physio recognises that an athlete's body requires specialised care, no matter their level of competition. Professionals working in this area stay on top of emerging advances in the field, constantly building their knowledge of evidence-based techniques in assessment and practice. It is this commitment and dedication that allows sports physios to keep their clients' bodies in peak condition, treating injuries, helping athletes recover faster, preventing issues from arising down the track and helping clients meet their performance goals.
If you are passionate about sport and value the integrity of your body, sports therapy is the answer.