Improve Your Sports Performance with Physical Therapy

Who Can Benefit From Sports Physical Therapy

Sports physical therapy is a branch of PT that most are familiar with – it involves physical therapists helping athletes of all sorts recover from injuries. Everyone who participates in sports, whether recreationally or professionally, is at a higher risk for injury than those who are more sedentary. Sports medicine physical therapy should be a part of all athletic training plans. We can break up those who benefit from sports PT into a few categories. These are injury rehabilitation, performance optimization, and injury prevention.

Injury Rehabilitation

Athletes will face different injuries based on the sport or the type of exercise they do. Marathon runners will face injuries that are gradual and repetitive in nature. These are things like shin splints, runner’s knee, and stress fractures. Football or hockey players will face acute injuries, like ACL tears, shoulder dislocations, and broken bones. Physical therapy will involve helping patients recover from their injury by advising on short-term activity modification and exercises to improve the pain and mobility in the region.

Performance Optimization

Sports performance physical therapy is a great option for athletes who want to perform their sport at their best. Physical therapists are among the highest trained professionals on the function of the muscles and joints in the healthcare field. This means they are capable of helping athletes correct any muscle imbalances and help them gain the appropriate strength and endurance to achieve their performance goals.

Injury Prevention

Physical therapists are advocates for injury prevention. Preventing injuries from happening in the first place is the most sustainable way to keep athletes in the game. PTs will examine the movement patterns of athletes, including very complex and demanding tasks, and develop a treatment plan for the areas at risk of injury. They do this by strengthening any weaknesses, improving the mobility of joints, and improving movement patterns that put any muscles, joints, or bones at risk of injury.

When you consider who may benefit from sports physical therapy, it is anyone, whether recreationally or professionally, who participates in regular exercise and competition.

Common Conditions A Sports Physical Therapist Can Treat

If you think of any injury you’ve had playing sports or being active, a physical therapist can treat that. Virtually any muscle, ligament, or bone can be injured from playing a sport. The most common conditions that PTs treat are broken up into muscular, joint, or bone issues.

Muscular Conditions

Muscles are the powerhouse behind running, jumping, and walking. When subject to a lot of stress during a sport, muscles can be strained. This varies in severity from a slight tear to a complete rupture of the muscle and will need therapy to facilitate the recovery process. An example of this in a football player is a rotator cuff tear that happened when the athlete caught himself on an outstretched arm.

Joint Conditions

The joints are subject to injury during sports as well. This can be from overuse or trauma to the joint. Overuse injuries include tennis elbow, which is marked by pain on the outside of the elbow from repeated movements (like hitting a tennis ball with a racquet). An example of trauma to a joint causing an injury is an ACL tear. This is common in basketball players, skiers, and football players and happens from an outside twisting force to the knee. Athletes usually need surgery to return to their sport, and it is followed by an extensive and gradual recovery process to make it back to the sport they love.

Bone Conditions

The most common bone condition are fractures. Physical therapists will help athletes recover while they are still in a cast and after to restore muscle and joint balance and strength. Athletes may sustain stress fractures as well which are gradual and occur with sports that require repetitive motion, like distance running. PTs are great educators on the rate of bone healing and the appropriate return to activity to get athletes back on the field.

How A Sports Physical Therapist Can Improve Your Performance

If you are an athlete of any sort, even recreationally, you could benefit from seeing a sports physical therapist today. After watching the movements you do in your sport closely, they will give you specific exercises and ways to improve your movement techniques. This is true even if you don’t have pain and have the goal of improving your performance. If you do have pain, you should see a physical therapist at the first sign of pain or injury. Injuries that are treated early recover much faster. Athletes who see physical therapists proactively before or right after their injury may perform better after rehabilitation than they ever have! Sports physical therapists also specialize in what they do to focus on the best treatment methods for helping athletes achieve their goals. Many sports PTs have been athletes themselves, allowing their personal passion to fuel their ability to help patients.

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