One of the things I love about my job is the diverse range of conditions that come through our doors on a daily basis. Old and young, male and female, active and inactive, different shapes and sizes…we get it all. It keeps our day interesting and it means that we Osteopaths have to keep up to date with the current trends in a range of areas of our profession.
A large proportion of my patients are sportspeople; ranging from those of you who play Tuesday night mixed netball to Olympians and AFL footballers. As someone who lived his teenage years (and some would say adult life) dreaming of being an elite athlete (and fell well short) it’s a part of job that I really enjoy.
As Australia’s fastest growing health profession, Osteopathy’s recognition at all levels of sport is growing by the day. Osteopaths have long been admired for their elite diagnostic and “hands on” skills and this proficiency is now becoming accepted as an important part not only of many athlete’s rehabilitation from injury but also their preparation, performance and recovery.
Getting back on track – Rehab
Injury is the worst part of any sport or activity because we all hate watching from the sidelines when we should be out there. Unfortunately it’s a reality that almost every athlete at all levels of activity face at some stage. Over a 12-month period up to 70% of regular runners, both competitive and social, will suffer some sort of injury (Sports Medicine Australia, 2008). It’s for this very reason that Osteopaths are so important in both the recovery and maintenance processes. Osteopaths are fully trained in the diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of all musculoskeletal injuries and will guide you through the process from the moment of the injury through to your return to sport.
Preparation is crucial – Maintenance
Like anything in life, preparation for a sporting event or season is the key. The ability of an athlete at any level to increase their training load, grow stronger, faster and to do it at a higher intensity for longer is crucial to their development in their chosen field. This is where an Osteopath is a vital cog in the athlete’s training wheel. This may be in the form of advice on training methods, warm up, how to increase your training loads appropriately, strengthening exercises, biomechanical analysis or taping or it may be the hands on work of mobilisation, massage, manipulation or stretching that allows the athlete’s body to complete the work it requires for your given event.
A large percentage of our sporting patients fall into this category. Many of these patients don’t necessarily have acute injury but are aware that in order for their body to do the things they are asking it to do, it needs to “run properly.” It’s a bit like getting your car serviced. In this situation the Osteopath’s job is to keep on top of any issues (past or present) that could potentially become more of a problem if not addressed and to maintain the appropriate structure and function of the body so that it can perform at a high level. If you’ve been unlucky enough to have been injured in the past it can be crucial to maintain the structural and functional integrity of the body to avoid it happening again. This is something the Osteopath can assess as part of your treatment and maintenance.
Being your best – Performance
Anyone who has played sport before knows that all the hard work is only worth it if you get to actually play the game or complete that goal. Osteopaths play an important role in the days and hours leading up to your sporting event. Whether it’s through taping, advice on strategies for warming up or “switching on” the appropriate muscles, treatment to get you moving before or during the event or a last minute tune up to make sure you are ready to go, treatment in the lead up to an event can be a crucial part of an athlete’s performance. Many of my patients, at all levels of sport, like to get a last minute assessment and treatment prior to their event. Maintaining correct biomechanics, especially when under fatigue, has been proven to play a critical role in injury prevention and is something that treatment from your Osteo can assist with.
So whether you are shooting for the Bulleen Division 2 Thursday night basketball trophy or a gold medal in Rio De Janeiro Osteopathy can have a positive impact on your body’s ability to train, compete and recover. If you’ve got any questions about how Osteopathy could help your athletic ambitions please don’t hesitate to contact the clinic.