Physical exercise plays a key part in staying healthy. Whether this is within a gym or sporting environment, the aim to to exercise safety. Unfortunately even the most careful can sometimes succumb to injury.
Injuries can be caused by many components such as not warming up properly, pushing yourself too hard or simply suffering from an accident. After sustaining an injury, rest from exercise is crucial. And for those of you who see exercise as big part of your life, returning efficiently is essential.
This is where sports therapy comes in. A sports therapist aims to provide care for top sport as well as amateur recreational participants to help them recover as quickly and fully as possible.
It is important to highlight the difference between sports therapy and physiotherapy as many people get confused by this. Sports therapist can use physiotherapy skills however, their main concern is the prevention and treatment of sport-related injuries using a variety of modalities and techniques.
Another common misconception is that sports therapists only work with the sporting population – this is not true. Sports therapists can tailor treatments to your needs; not just those of the sports man that suffers with a bad back.
Utilising anatomy and physiology knowledge, alongside principles of sports sciences, sports therapists use techniques such as sports massage, mobilisation, thermal therapy and exercise prescription. All combined to help fully rehabilitate injuries.
The Society of Sports Therapists defines a sports therapist as a healthcare professional who has the knowledge, skills and ability to do the following:
- utilise sports and exercise principles to optimise performance
- provide immediate care of injuries
- offer basic life support in a recreational, training and/or competitive environment
- provide sport and remedial massage in a sport and exercise context
- plan and implement appropriate rehabilitation programmes
- a sports therapist should also be qualified to refer patients to other medical specialists as and when required
Common injuries can occur from exercising regularly. If you feel pain in a particular area of your body when exercising, it is important to seek some professional advice.
Listed below are some common injuries to be aware of:
Back pain – Many people will suffer from back pain at some point in their life, whether it’s due to a recurring problem or bad posture. During exercise this is mainly due to muscle strains.
Ankle and foot injuries – Ankle sprains are perhaps the most common of these sorts of injuries, especially for those who run and jump when they exercise.
- ligament injuries
- cartilage injuries
- meniscal tears
- dislocated kneecap
Hip injuries – Common causes for pain in this area include inflammation of the joint and muscle strains.
Wrist injuries – Sprains and tendonitis are typical.
Elbow injuries – tennis elbow is the main injury sustained here.
Shoulder injuries – The shoulder is a complex part of the body and therefore can be the cause of many sports injuries. The rotator cuff in particular is often affected, with tendonitis of the cuff and tears seen regularly by sports therapists.
What will happen when I see a sports therapist?
General format involves:
- initial consultation
During the initial consultation your therapist will ask about your injury, past medical history and social activities. This all helps to determine what structures to assess.
This is usually a physical assessment where the area of concern is looked at. Alongside other factors such as posture and functional movement. Special tests are used to diagnose the problem.
Once your injury has been assessed, diagnoses and explained to you, treatment can then begin. This is tailored to individual needs. Sports therapy utilises a number of techniques to help ease pain and encourage recovery. While the specific treatment used will depend on the nature of your injury and your own personal history, the following techniques are commonly used:
- myofascial release
- hot/cold treatment.
It is important that you see a therapist with valid qualifications to ensure the best treatment approach.