So what exactly is Sports Physiotherapy?

Sports Physiotherapy explained

More often than not it can be confusing deciding what physio you should see, and how will this change your Physio experience. To answer your questions about Sports Physio we sat down with Barefoot Physio and Olympian Caitlin Sargent!

Many people ask me why we differentiate between the terms ‘physiotherapy’ and ‘sports physiotherapy’.  And fair enough, as the term sports physio isn’t widely understood – in fact, physio in general isn’t widely understood. But there’s a difference, which to us and our clients is vital.

Most people think of physio as a massage, followed by a bunch of home exercises for rehabilitation. So on that basis, sports physio would simply be the same but for people who play sport, right? Not at Barefoot Physiotherapy, and I’ll explain why. Let’s say you’ve presented to your GP with one of the usual suspects like neck, shoulder, back or knee injury. An attentive GP will likely spend a few minutes with you looking at your range of motion and asking about the circumstances of the pain you’re experiencing, before giving you a referral for some physiotherapy. 

Now this is where your journey can make a decisive turn. If you’ve been sent to a regular physiotherapist for rehabilitation, you’ll probably notice the treatment in your session will go straight to the site of the pain. It seems very cause and effect – you have a knee injury, so let’s get to work on that joint.

But this approach misses the key fact that often the site of pain is not in the same place as the cause. Still experiencing pain after a few visits? It’s a safe bet you’ve been treating the symptom and not the cause. At Barefoot we look at the root cause of the pain and treat it, helping to teach you to treat the problem area yourself and help to prevent further injuries in the future.

One of the big differences between physio and a sports physio is a specific understanding of what’s required from your body to perform at such a high level. To get you performing at optimal level, it’s important to help you understand your whole body as a working system. This means looking at your pain and treatment at a holistic level, teaching you to understand your body in a “bigger picture” sense.

Sometimes through treatment it can be determined that your injury may require further investigation from another health professional. We might even determine at an early stage that your shoulder injury, for example, needs investigation from another health professional before we can begin treatment. Or we might pick up in our early assessment that nerve irritation is causing muscle weakness and affecting your technique, which undetected would make a strength training program a very ineffective treatment.

Through looking at the whole picture our physios are able to identify if things like sleep position or posture at work are causing accumulative strain. Identifying this can help to solve your pain – not just fix it temporarily!

Who Should See a Sports Physio?

First of all, you don’t have to be a professional athlete to see a sports physio. In fact, most of our clients don’t fit that description at all (though we do treat some of the best in the business!).

It could be anyone! Our clients range from people who play sport socially, work out alone, weekend warriors and even professionals who need their body to function well as part of their physically active day job. We understand that movement and living an active lifestyle is just as important as those who are professional athletes. Having a body that is able to move and help you continue to do what you love is so important!

Naturally, most of our clients do love sport and achieve amazing results through the way we treat their sport injury or help them to improve performance. Non-professional athletes can often think they don’t need professional advice, but small gains at this level (especially when everyone else is thinking the same thing) can lead to huge performance benefits.

If you would love to get back to doing what you love, or don’t feel like you are performing at your optimal level pop in to visit the Barefoot Team! Click here to read more or book an appointment.

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