At the time of writing this post, sports fans nationwide are on the edge of their seats, hoping the England team has a shot at victory in the 2018 World Cup. Of course, sports stars competing at major sporting events are supported by a team of unsung heroes, including physiotherapist’s.
Read on for the inside scoop on a physiotherapists’ role in preventing footie fails on an international stage, from Capital Physio physiotherapist Alex Dalton:
Well before kick-off, physiotherapists for every team will be monitoring their players’ hydration levels, resting heart rates and muscle fatigue readings. They are also directly involved in each player’s individual warm-up, including joint mobilisation, massage, stretching and taping or strapping as necessary.
During a game each team will have a physiotherapist as a key member of the pitch-side support team. They must remain calm under immense pressure, with viewers across the globe watching them live, to treat injuries as required and decide whether it’s appropriate for a player to continue.
After the final whistle blows, physiotherapists continue to play a key role in supporting the team. Vital tasks range from monitoring players’ weights and hydration levels to ensuring ice baths are taken and providing rub downs and stretches to promote recovery before the next game begins.
Should a footballer suffer an injury, physiotherapy intervention follows a process known as PRICE – protect, rest, ice, compression, elevation. Below, Alex explains the immediate goals of physiotherapists following an injury:
- Decrease pain and swelling using methods include cryotherapy, massage and electrotherapies
- Restore ankle range of movement with both active and passive ankle exercises
- Restore strength through progressive exercises with equipment including strength bands and weights
- Address kinetic chain imbalances, looking at glut activation and endurance, core stability and general lower limb strength
- Improve functional movements with progressive loading and balance work
- Prepare for return to play through non-contact sessions progressing to full contact training