Physiotherapy helps people get back their strength and mobility after an injury. While those injuries can happen in almost any situation, sport injuries are one of the most common applications of physiotherapy. It’s why so many professional and high level sports teams and individuals have dedicated physiotherapists.
Physiotherapy, also known as physical therapy, can also help relieve pain and prevent longer-term damage and chronic problems.
Common Sport Injuries that Physiotherapy Can Treat
Most sport injuries affect your joints, their supportive tissue, and your muscles. Broken bones are also a common sport injury.
Ankle injuries are common in sports where running athletes come in contact with each other, or stop, start and change direction often. Ankles can be curled or twisted beyond the limits of their range of motion. The result is stretched or torn connective tissue.
A pulled muscle, or muscle strain, happens when a muscle is stretched beyond its limit. The muscle can actually tear. Pulled muscles can happen unexpectedly, even during an otherwise normal activity. They can be very painful and, as such, often require immediate attention.
High velocity collisions between two athletes can involve the sudden acceleration and deceleration of the head and neck. That whiplash effect can first hyper-extend the neck muscles, then quickly turn into flexion, or bending, of the neck muscles.
The most common cause of knee injuries is the sudden twisting of bending of the knee in the wrong direction. The injury can strain and/or tear tendons and ligaments in the knee, the most common being the ACL, or anterior cruciate ligament.
Physiotherapy for Sports Injuries
Before treating any injury, a physiotherapist must examine and diagnose the injury. This includes understanding the location and severity of the injury. Physiotherapy may begin almost immediately in many cases and must be applied regularly for thorough healing.
Human bodies have a natural healing progression, which first includes an acute phase, then a sub-acute phase and, finally, a chronic phase.
- Acute phase treatments include R.I.C.E — rest, ice, compression, elevation — which controls inflammation and the swelling that results.
- Sub-acute phase treatments include movement exercises to maintain range of motion in the affected area
- Chronic phase treatments also help improve range of motion and mobility as the athlete returns to normal activity levels.
There are a number of treatment modalities that physiotherapies can use at any stage of treatment or even across many stages.
Cold Compression Therapy
In addition to reducing swelling and inflammation, icing an injury can also relieve pain.
Electric impulses can trigger muscle movement that athletes may be incapable of doing on their own.
Using focused acoustic waves, ultrasonography improves blood circulation and tissue relaxation to accelerate healing.
Functional exercises, developed specifically for patients and their particular injury, can return strength and motion to affected areas.
Many people consider concussion to be a sports injury, but it can happen to anyone. You can learn more in our article Treatment & Rehabilitation for Concussion.