Written by Chris Foerster from Fremont College
Physical therapists (PTs) aren’t just limited to rehabilitation after a sports injury, but can also help an athlete improve their performance as well. Most PTs are highly trained professionals whose job might encompass everything from exercise science to sports psychology. Incorporating sports and rehabilitation therapy into your standard workout routine is certainly something every workout enthusiast should consider.
Uncovering Underlying Conditions
One of the most important goals of sports physical therapy is to uncover any underlying conditions that can keep an athlete from peak performance. This can usually be determined by using regular strength-training workouts to more accurately assess where any weaknesses are located. These areas of concern can be quite unique, given the type of sport or activity one is engaged in. For example, training someone for an Olympic marathon is vastly different than the process involved in making a home-run king.
As you can see, the ability to employ the most appropriate therapeutic methods is crucial when dealing with the diverse techniques required of many sports activities. The sports-health industry has responded to this need with a recent merger in the fields of sports therapy and performance training, which has the potential to more accurately pinpoint specific areas of performance weakness, and subsequently tailor the necessary treatment to solve them. Becoming an expert in this space might require training or education from a specialized therapy school as well as a plethora of industry experience. This can ultimately lead to a healthier and more optimized performance for athletes who receive treatment from top sports therapists.
Massage Therapy Techniques
An excellent way PTs can both rehabilitate and/or prepare their clients for better performance is through the use massage therapy. The traditional pre and post-race massages given to runners are well known, and do a great job of conditioning a person’s mind and body for both the stress of upcoming competition, as well as to relax the mental and muscle tension afterwards.
In addition to these routine methods, there has been much interest in deep tissue massage to better enable blood circulation, which is a great way to boost your recovery time from injuries. This post-workout/sports massage session is also important in helping to improve one’s mental state, and thus makes the all-important mind/body connection for proper healing to begin.
Diet, Hydration, & Psychology
Sports and rehabilitation therapy should also include healthy nutrition, good hydration and plenty of rest to achieve the full benefit of any physical methods applied. Another important therapy tool is sports psychology, which has branched out beyond the pro-sports arena into the everyday amateur realm as well.
The elevation of sports therapy to what is now considered to be an integral part of sports training and rehabilitation has been a very positive development at all levels of participation. This more holistic approach creates an atmosphere that promotes both mental and physical healing. When properly combined with regular training exercises, sports physical therapy is a worthy addition to any athlete’s regular workout routine.