What is sports physiotherapy and how can it help you safely enjoy your favourite sport?

What is sports physiotherapy and how can it help you safely enjoy your favourite sport?

You might have heard of sports physiotherapy because it plays a crucial role in helping athletes recover from injuries and enhance their performance. But you don’t have to be a professional athlete to benefit from seeing a sports physiotherapist.

Sports physiotherapy can support anyone who enjoys sport or has an active lifestyle, especially when it comes to ensuring a safe and effective recovery journey in the event of an injury.

What is sports physiotherapy and how can it help you safely enjoy your favourite sport?

What is Sports Physiotherapy?

Sports physiotherapy, also known as sports physical therapy or sports injury rehabilitation, is a specialised branch of physiotherapy focused on the prevention, evaluation, treatment, and rehabilitation of injuries related to sports and exercise.

Treatment uses evidence-based techniques to address musculoskeletal issues, enhance performance, and promote overall wellbeing in athletes of all levels, including those of you who enjoy sports for pleasure, health, and fitness.

If you see a sports therapist, you can expect your treatment plan to include a combination of strength exercises, manual therapies, postural adjustments, taping techniques, electrotherapies, and sports specific tasks.

What’s the difference between sports therapy and physiotherapy?

While sports therapy and physiotherapy share similar goals of injury rehabilitation and performance enhancement, there are distinct differences between the two disciplines.

Sports physiotherapists primarily focus on the assessment, treatment, and prevention of sports-related injuries, often within the context of training and competition.

Meanwhile, physiotherapists have a broader scope of practice, encompassing various areas of healthcare, including musculoskeletal, neurological, and respiratory conditions, with a focus on restoring movement and function.

What are the key aspects of sports physiotherapy?

There are five key reasons why you might choose to see a sports physiotherapist. These are:

1. Injury assessment

If you’re suffering from a sports-related injury, a sports physiotherapist will conduct a thorough assessment to diagnose the nature and extent of the problem. This may include physical examinations, movement analysis, and diagnostic imaging to determine the best course of treatment.

2. Treatment interventions

As we mentioned earlier in this article, sports physiotherapy employs a variety of treatment modalities to address sports-related injuries effectively. These may include manual therapy techniques, such as joint mobilisation and soft tissue manipulation, as well as therapeutic exercises, stretching programmes, and treatments such as ultrasound or electrical stimulation.

3. Rehabilitation

A sports physiotherapist will develop a customised rehabilitation plan aimed at restoring your function, mobility, and strength following an injury. This treatment plan will consider your goals, lifestyle, sport, and other factors, with a focus on safely enabling you to return to your chosen sport or activity at your pre-injury level.

Sports physiotherapy can help to speed up your recovery time in a number of ways, including reducing pain and swelling, boosting tissue healing, and improving your strength, flexibility and coordination.

4. Injury prevention

Sports physiotherapy isn’t just about injury management. In fact, we want to ensure that you can enjoy your favourite activity without being hurt!

Sports physiotherapists work proactively to identify risk factors and develop strategies to prevent injuries before they occur. This may involve assessing biomechanics, analysing movement patterns, and providing education on proper training techniques and equipment use.

If you’ve been prone to injury in the past, seeing a sports physiotherapist can help you to avoid repeating the same injury. Of course, you don’t need to wait until you’re injured to seek support.

5. Performance enhancement

Sports physiotherapy also plays a role in enhancing athletic performance. By addressing biomechanical imbalances, improving movement efficiency, and optimising physical conditioning, sports physiotherapists help athletes reach their full potential and minimise the risk of future injuries.

What injuries do sports therapists treat?

Sports therapists are trained to address a wide range of injuries commonly encountered in athletic activities. These may include:

  • Strains and sprains: Ligament and muscle injuries resulting from sudden movements or overexertion.
  • Tendonitis: Inflammation of tendons due to repetitive motion or overuse.
  • Fractures: Bone breaks resulting from traumatic impact or stress.
  • Dislocations: Joint injuries where the bones are forced out of their normal positions.
  • Overuse injuries: Chronic conditions like stress fractures or tendinopathies caused by repetitive stress on tissues.
  • Concussions: Traumatic brain injuries resulting from impacts to the head during sports.

Why is physiotherapy important after an injury?

America’s National Safety Council reports that there were 3.6 million sports-related injuries in the US in 2022. In the UK, the figure is estimated to be around two million. Concerningly, one report found that up to a third of people who sustain a sports injury experience long-term problems because they don’t receive the right treatment or support.

Physiotherapy plays a vital role in minimising the impact of sports injuries and can help to ensure that you return to full health. Here’s why it’s essential:

  • Optimal recovery: Physiotherapy can help you to regain the strength, flexibility, and mobility essential for returning to sport safely.
  • Injury prevention: It can help you to address any underlying issues and prevent injury or re-injury through targeted exercises and education.
  • Pain management: Techniques such as manual therapy, therapeutic exercises, and electrotherapies help alleviate pain and discomfort associated with injuries.
  • Functional rehabilitation: Physiotherapists focus on restoring functional movement patterns and biomechanics to improve athletic performance and reduce the risk of future injuries.
  • Psychological support: Coping with injuries can be mentally challenging. A sports physiotherapist will provide support and guidance throughout the rehabilitation process to help you stay positive and focused on recovery.

Sports injury is best managed with specialised expertise

Every sport or physical activity places specific demands on your body. Rugby, for example, might cause very different injuries to tennis or pounding the pavement on a daily run. A sports physiotherapist will understand this, meaning that they can devise the right treatment plan to get you back to peak performance.

They can also help to keep you match fit by preventing injury because they understand how and why you might be vulnerable to specific issues.

As with other fields of physiotherapy, sports physiotherapy takes a holistic approach to injury management, addressing not only the physical aspects of the injury but also thinking about the biomechanics of the body, your training load, and the psychological factors that might affect your performance.

Returning to sport

If you’ve been away from your favourite sport or activity for a while, perhaps because of injury, a sports physiotherapist can guide you safely through the return-to-sport process. This is done through ongoing monitoring, progressing your level of exercise, and advise on gradually getting back to training or even competing.

Helping you feel and perform your best

Whether you have experienced a sports injury or need help with injury prevention or returning to your favourite sport or activity after a break, sports physiotherapy can make a world of difference.

Our experienced team would be happy to discuss how it could help you personally and arrange a consultation.

Contact Physio Box today