A physiotherapist has become an integral part of the so-called backroom team of most kinds of contemporary professional sports club. The term ‘being in the physio room’ is often used as a kind of shorthand for being injured in some sports. The role is especially important in a contact sport such as rugby league, but what does a physio do besides rub damaged muscles and strap up painful joints?
One of the best methods of dealing with injury in rugby league is to work hard on reducing the risk of damage occurring in the first place. This process has had a new name coined for it in recent years, ‘pre-hab’, derived from the ‘rehabilitation’ that occurs after an injury has taken place. Pre-hab is a now a well-designed process which hopefully prevents the ultimate need for rehabilitation.
A physio should play a part in shaping each individual player’s individual strengthening and stretching programmes are part of this ‘pre-hab’ process. Stretching helps the muscles to recover from the demands of training and playing as a professional rugby league player. Other techniques to stretch and strengthen have been borrowed from disciplines such as yoga and pilates in recent times.
Obviously, different players have different physical requirements depending on their own body types. Factors such as metabolism and injury history also play a part in shaping how a physio will design pre-hab programmes. Specific vulnerabilities in a player’s make-up need to be identified and worked upon.
In these cases, it is important to build core strength in the body. Additionally, any vulnerable areas, such as the muscles around the knee or the ankle, need to be stronger and more flexible. This is especially important for players with a history of previous injury.
A physio needs to make sure that a player’s body can cope with the stresses and strains of intensive training and playing at a professional level. The game has become very much faster than it was in recent years, and this places strain on a player’s ability to withstand damage over the course of a season. Due to the sheer number of games which a season consists of these days, keeping a whole squad of players in the best possible shape has become more important than ever.
Working as part of an effective backroom team along with conditioning coaches and nutritionists has also become a crucial part of a physios tasks these days. A nutritionist can tailor a player’s diet so that their health is kept at a high enough level to cope with the demands of playing and training. Hydration and refuelling in order to stay fit and compete are vital for players in today’s game.
It is important for players to maintain an effective body weight, which is why a nutritionist is important. Big forwards often struggle to keep their body fat as low as it should be for them to be at peak fitness, and a physio will not want players getting fat and carrying excess weight, as this places an unnatural strain on joints and muscles. This can lead to a greater risk of injury, the very thing a physiotherapist is paid to prevent.
When seeking physiotherapy, be sure to visit a physiotherapist. We provide the best in Canadian health services.