I’ve just spent the last 3 weeks as a sports physio at the Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast. I closed shop in Spring Hill in Brisbane picked up my new uniform and away I went.
So, what is it like working with the world’s most elite athletes?
This isn’t my first time working with elite athletes having previously worked with a professional rugby side in New Zealand and also run a varsity sports program and clinic in a North American University. This, however, was slightly different.
You see usually I have been just with one team over a period of months or multiple teams (at a University) daily from pre-season until finals. It started with applying with the 15000 others to be selected in the final few hundred.
I was rostered to be the triage physio at three different training venues for Netball, Triathlon/Hockey/Cycling, and Athletics/Swimming.
Although I am an avid sportsman this still required a lot of research due to the vastly different types of athletes that I would encounter.
The main objective is to get the athlete safely back into their given sports ASAP. In the clinical setting, we would also be looking at avoiding future injury, correcting technique, imbalances and loading.
In this case, though the aim is to get the athlete back to doing what they came here to do.
As a physio, I have always been a big advocate of keeping people active when they have injuries. This is usually in a modified way but it is a nice halfway point for those who like to be active.
When working as a sports physio courtside it’s a different story. You have to weigh up risk vs reward. For example, I had a netballer who was playing her last game ever for her country that night. During there morning training she picked up an issue with her glute (bottom) and was getting some pinching in her hip.
The athlete was beside herself and reported a high level of pain. Upon addressing the primary issues causing her restriction and pain and treating courtside, the athlete reported a 1/10 pain level and was able to move freely.
Later that night while eating dinner I switched on the games and to my delight saw her playing her heart out.
Had this been a regular season game, things would have been different. This isn’t to say the athlete wasn’t safe to play more so the fact that a full rehab program would have helped ensure it was unlikely to return.
The hardest times of being a sports physio is breaking the news to an athlete when they won’t be making it back. Unfortunately, this also occurred a few times. Intense contested last training sessions meant badly sprained and broken limbs.
When it comes to this I have always found that being confident in my diagnosis and telling them the likely outcome is the toughest but best way. Anything better than that is a bonus. Telling someone they will miss the next game and be fine for the following is better than them pushing and failing for the first game and missing both.
If they have a faster than expected recovery, then it’s a win/win. This not only helps the athlete reset goals it helps the whole team plan for their absence.
Having dealt with athletes from all levels of skill and competition there aren’t huge amounts of difference. Motivation and compliance to rehab are usually a bit higher in the professional athlete because they are focusing on it for hours a day. Conditioning is often higher due to the amount of training they do and having team trainers that they work with.
Outside of that behind it all, we are all humans. We all have body parts that break, sprain, tear and pull. We all at times need to see a physio to fast track us back to what we love.
If you have a sports injury or are looked to get screened click below to book a session with me to get you need to see an experienced sports physio on the right track ASAP. I promise I will treat you like a gold medallist!