Why is Physiotherapy Important for Athletes?

Why is Physiotherapy Important for Athletes?

Physiotherapists specialize in helping patients maintain or restore physical function and mobility. We’ve all watched professional or Olympic athletes put their bodies through things that we never thought possible, one of the ways they can achieve that type of performance and continue to do the sport or activity they love for years is proper maintenance in the form of physical therapy. Whether you’re a professional athlete looking to prevent injury or a serious runner managing a running injury, physiotherapy is an important part of maintaining a healthy body.

Physiotherapy Prevents & Treats Injury

A man is being examed during physiotherapy

One of the main goals of any good physiotherapist or athletic therapist is to help prevent injury. This can be done in several ways – using manual techniques to relax overworked muscles, developing personalized exercise routines to help with targeted strength and flexibility, and evaluating and treating dysfunction.

At clinics like Okotoks Physical Therapy, they combine sports therapy, dry-needling and acupuncture, manual therapy and massage to create the perfect treatment and maintenance plan to keep all their athletes in perfect form.

Even the best physiotherapist or athlete can stop all injury from happening though, some are just bound to happen. When they do, prompt treatment from a physiotherapist can help athletes get back on the field sooner and prevent any further damage or long-term consequences. One of the worst things athletes can do is push themselves too hard and too fast after an injury, especially without proper care.

Improves Strength

a woman is doing an exercise with her physiotherapist
Modern rehabilitation physiotherapy worker with woman client

Athletes and their coaches are definitely the experts in their sport, but each individual has different needs and when a coach or team trainer is training a whole team of athletes individual needs may be pushed to the back-burner. That’s not to say that the training an athlete gets from these professionals doesn’t work, it just means that the athlete needs to be mindful of how certain exercises feel and work for them. If an athlete is having trouble with strength in a particular area, or there’s dysfunction or underlying issues then speaking with their physiotherapist or athletic therapist at Total Rehabilitation and Sports Injuries Clinic may be exactly what they need. Physiotherapists help to enhance physical strength by evaluating dysfunction and mobility in the body and prescribing exercises that address specific needs. For example, if an athlete is hypermobile like is seen in a lot of gymnasts, then more focus needs to be on building strength in the muscles around their joints to avoid subluxations, physiotherapists can help address this.

Physiotherapy or Athletic Therapy for Athletes?

Physiotherapy or Athletic Therapy, what’s the difference and which is more beneficial for athletes?

Athletic therapists are trained in immediate emergency first response care for injuries, prevention and rehabilitation as it pertains to athletes in particular. Athletic therapists are often part of professional sports teams and available for immediate care during practice, games, or competitions – they’re usually who you see rush on-screen to help the injured knee of the professional soccer player during the world cup, or tending to the twisted ankle of your favorite NFL player. They use a combination of taping, manual therapy and physical reconditioning.

a physiotherapy session

Physiotherapists have a wider scope of practice with a focus on achieving and maintaining optimal mobility and health, as well as rehabilitation. They can treat a wide range of injuries and conditions as well as a range of age groups. They use manual therapy techniques, exercise, sometimes acupuncture or dry-needling techniques, and a whole host of other approaches depending on their education to prevent, treat and maintain physical function in the general population.

So, while their techniques may be similar and there is often overlap in what they can treat and who they treat, especially with physiotherapists that specialize in sports medicine, they are two distinct professions that work well together as well as service-specific needs. Athletic therapy is the go-to choice for immediate injury care in athletes – if an athlete injures themselves in a game or practice and they have access to an athletic therapist that’s their number one choice for treating an injury quickly and promoting faster recovery. They may also see athletes regularly for prevention and maintenance after injury. Physiotherapists are the go-to choice for long-term maintenance, prevention and assessment as they often have training in areas and techniques beneficial to athletes that athletic therapists may not – things like dry-needling, or orthopedics.