What is Sports Physiotherapy?
According to the Australian Physiotherapy Association, physiotherapy is a “healthcare profession that assesses, diagnoses, treats, and works to prevent disease and disability through physical means.” (1) Sports physiotherapy is a specialised branch of this larger discipline, which is solely focused on assessing, diagnosing and treating patients with injuries or issues that have developed due to athletic activities or pursuits (2).
In other words, a sports physiotherapist can help you to recover after you’ve suffered an injury while playing a sport or engaging in physical activities like running, lifting weights, swimming, playing basketball and so on. They are also experts at helping you to regain your full function after a surgery to correct a sports related injury.
A Key Distinction.
Traditional physiotherapists aim to restore a patient back to self-sufficiency once again, or to at least improve their strength, function or range of motion. In contrast, rehabilitating from sports injuries often requires a different approach. Why?
Athletes typically demand more from their bodies, often pushing their muscles and joints far past what is required in everyday life. For this reason, if you want to resume the same level of intensity or competitiveness you enjoyed before your injury, your physiotherapist may need to take a more aggressive approach or use other methods or exercises.
A qualified sports physiotherapist will also typically have expertise related to your sport, and they will know how to treat the specific injuries associated with it. For example, tennis elbow is a common condition seen by sports physiotherapy clinics, and they are well-versed in the best methods for rehabbing this kind of repetitive motion injury (3).
What Are the Benefits?
If you’ve been injured while playing sports or during an athletic activity, being able to return to your previous level of function is likely important to you. After all, you no doubt enjoy being active and would like your injury to heal in the best manner possible. While you may be tempted to simply let your injury heal on its own without any expert intervention, working with a sports physiotherapy clinic can provide several key advantages. These include:
Partnering with an experienced sports physiotherapist can reduce your pain faster, by using specialised treatments like electrotherapy, massage and joint mobility exercises.
-Managing Scar Tissue Formation
As your body heals the site of your injury, it will form scar tissue. If this forms in the improper way or location, it can hinder your range of motion moving forward. Working with a sports physiotherapist right after your injury can improve your outcome, as in many cases they can guide the direction in which your scar tissue forms (4).
-Speeding Healing Time
A sports physiotherapist may be able to speed your healing time and they can provide targeted exercises to improve range of motion and to strengthen the muscles, joints or ligaments that have been affected by your injury.
-Helping To Prevent Further Injuries
Finally, a sports physiotherapist will tell you when you’re ready to participate in your chosen sport once again. This is important, as returning too soon can cause a quick re-injury. In addition, even after you’re back to full function, a sports physiotherapist can work with you to uncover any problems in your form which may make injuries more likely again in the future (5). They may also suggest different or specialised gear, such as custom running shoes that keep your foot more stable, if you’ve suffered a foot or ankle injury (6).
A Prudent Approach
As with most things in life, it is better to get expert advice sooner rather than later, as this can save you from making costly mistakes and experiencing setbacks along the way. Successfully recovering from a sports injury is no exception, and going it alone is not always a wise option. This is especially true if you want to return to playing sports or engaging in athletic activities at a high level.
Fortunately, partnering with a respected sports physiotherapy clinic in Sydney immediately after suffering an injury, is likely to significantly improve your outcome. They can advise you as to the extent and seriousness of your injury, map out a rehab plan and help you to follow through and achieve your post-rehab goals. You can also expect a faster recovery, with less pain and greater functionality when working under their guidance. For all of these reasons, a sports physiotherapist is a tremendous resource for you to utilise, for the best recovery possible.
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