Playing or participating in sports, whether it’s casually with friends on the weekend, at the gym, or professionally, places unique and significant demands on our body.
While it’s one thing to know what these demands are, it’s a different skill set to have a comprehensive understanding of the body-wide compensatory effects that an injury or sub-optimal movement will have on your sports performance - and your movement in daily life. This is exactly what a sports physiotherapist does, alongside understanding your risk of a secondary injury directly related to your chosen sport and activity levels, knowing the precise technique adjustments you need to support your recovery - and much more.
Sports physiotherapy is one specialty of physiotherapy, much like the specialty of women’s health physiotherapy or children’s (paediatric) physiotherapy that we offer, where your physiotherapist has a specialist interest in and has undergone additional training in the field of sports medicine so that they can add even more skill, insight and value to your appointment for a sports-related injury or problem. While they’re also skilled and qualified in all of the standard physiotherapy treatments and practices, sports medicine is a strong passion and area of interest.
Over 100 Years Of Sports Physiotherapy Experience
At our PhysioCentral clinics across Hong Kong central and Wong Chuk Hang, we have over 100 years of combined sports physiotherapy experience. We work with everyone from professional athletes to those just gently easing into a fitness journey for the first time. We understand that working with a sports physio is not just about being able to participate in sports again, but that for many people, sports and regular exercise is a foundation for long-term wellness, disease prevention, a person’s strength and confidence - and more. This is why we take this field very seriously, and are proud to deliver a comprehensive, evidence-based and exceptional sports physiotherapy service.
We treat everything from back and shoulder pain to muscle strains and sprains, with common injuries seen by our sports physiotherapists including:
- Knee pain (including runners knee, meniscus tears and knee ligament injuries)
- Shin splints
- Stress fractures
- Elbow pain (including tennis and golfers elbow)
- Shoulder injuries
- Hamstring and groin strains
- Achilles and heel pain
- Ankle pain
- Low back pain
Your Sports Physiotherapist Can Help You Return To Exercise SafelyOne way that a sports physiotherapist can benefit men and women at any physical fitness level is when they decide to get back into exercising after a break. It doesn’t matter how long the break is or the reason behind it - it may be after pregnancy and the postpartum period, after surgery and your recovery, a period of sickness, a vacation - for many it’s just when they stop exercising because life gets too busy. Either way, pushing yourself too hard when you return to exercise or presuming your body is still in your pre-break state is one of the leading causes of pain and injury we see - as well as the cause of one-third of injuries at the gym.
- Studies show that cardiovascular fitness can drop noticeably within just two weeks of inactivity, which means the heart has to work harder to get enough blood to your muscles. Unfortunately, people are more likely to lose their cardio fitness more quickly if they’re already athletic or a regular gym-goer.
- Similarly, when it comes to muscle strength, muscle mass can decrease in as little as two weeks of rest.
- For those that have contracted the COVID-19 virus, exercise has likely been out of the question, with experts recommending a minimum of “two weeks of self-isolation and rest from exercise, followed by a gradual return to exercise under the guidance of a medical team”. These experts go on to recommend that patients have a medical assessment and rehabilitation plan with specialists such as physiotherapists before they return to exercise at all.
This is where your sports physio can help you return to exercise safely by doing an injury prevention screening, identifying your risks when exercising, and putting the right strategies in place to help you have a safe return with ideal timelines and techniques.
Your Sports Physio Can Help Remove Your Painful Barriers To ExerciseMany of us may want to exercise, whether that’s starting or continuing our exercise journeys, but accidents, pains, our surgical history or conditions like chronic pain, strokes or disabilities can make us think twice about committing to it - even if it’s just saying yes to a walk in the park with a friend. Even stages of life like pregnancy, work-related stress or postural stress can create barriers to exercise.
- Up to 79% of runners experience an injury at some point, and these injuries typically involve the knees (up to 50%), feet (up to 39.3%) and lower back (up to 19.1%).
- Back pain affects up to 80% of pregnant women, and up to 82% of these women continue to have back pain 18 months after they give birth, while around 21% of women still have persistent back pain for as long as two years postpartum.
- Physical concerns can be triggered at work: Between 42% and 63% of office workers struggle with neck pain each year, and construction workers who do significant amounts of overhead work have high rates of shoulder pain that often progress to loss of function.
- Injury can have a significant impact on future exercise, as up to 17% of athletes are found to fail to return to their sport following an injury
This is where your sports physio is highly experienced in using a range of rehabilitation techniques to relieve pain and support you to achieve your exercise and fitness goals. Alongside optimising your recovery from injuries, simply helping you to exercise can reduce the extent to which pain is perceived, even after only one session. Engaging in regular exercise can also raise a person’s pain thresholds and pain tolerance, and reduce the number of regular pain flares that those with persistent pain experience.
Sports physiotherapy may include customised plans designed to help you recover from sprains or dislocations, reduce muscle tension, improve strength and flexibility, support injury recovery, and decrease pain. They may use heat and cooling, hands-on manual therapies including massage and dry needling, joint braces and supports, and targeted exercise for joints, muscles and ligaments. Your sports physio can advise you on which exercises to perform, what to avoid, how hard to push yourself. By creating a personalised rehabilitation program designed to help you recover quickly and effectively, you can set yourself up for success to continue reaping the health benefits of exercise in the future - even in settings like your workplace. Research supports this, finding that early physiotherapy intervention can help to improve functionality, decrease pain, and even reduce medication use for people with lower back pain.
Your Sports Physio Can Help Prevent Future Injuries
While certain sports like cricket and football have high rates of sports-related injuries, all forms of exercise and sports carry a range of risks. Moreover, once you are injured, you may be more likely to have recurring problems or injuries if the underlying structures in your body are not effectively managed. Shoulder dislocations, for example, have high recurrence rates of between 37-90%. However, strength training programmes prescribed by a sports physiotherapist have been found to reduce sports injuries to less than one-third, and overuse injuries can be halved.
A sports physiotherapist can carry out a comprehensive assessment to evaluate your physical function and identify any underlying concerns that may cause difficulty during exercise, including incorrect posture, muscle or joint weakness, balance, and more. From this evaluation, your physio can provide you with exercises to prevent injury from occurring in your sports or leisure exercises, including stretching and strengthening exercises, manual therapies, and bracing to support existing injuries, as well as tailored warm-up and cool-down routines that will help prepare you for the session and help your body recover.
Your Sports Physio Can Help Improve Your PerformanceWhether you participate in crossfit, weight lifting, hurdles, swimming, soccer or other sports, sports physiotherapists are trained to help optimise your specific technique, as well as use a series of targeted exercises relative to your sport, to help you perform at your best. Technique can be difficult to evaluate on your own, and a sports physio has the knowledge and experience to notice the small but significant adjustments that can be made to make a substantial improvement in performance.
- For ball striking sports, post-activation performance enhancement conditioning activities, including overweight implement throw and lightweight and isometric bat swings, improved subsequent throwing distance and bat swing velocity, respectively.
- Rugby players working on technique with yoga interventions had improved eyes closed balance, either maintained or improved their 5 m sprint performance, and improved some cardiovascular health indices.
- For swimmers, using cable pulley conditioning activities resulted in an improved swim time
Book In With An Experienced Sports Physiotherapist In Hong Kong
While we welcome all referrals, you don’t need a referral to see one of our sports physiotherapists. You can book an appointment with our trusted physio team online, as well as get to know more about our team, their interests and their qualifications.