Physioworks Health Group
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Australian Physiotherapy Association
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Physioworks Health Group

by Physioworks April 2018

The physiotherapy and health care professionals at Physioworks Health Group provide their skill set working with female athletes across numerous elite sports.

  • Physiotherapist Matthew Lynagh was team physio for the Collingwood FC in the AFLW in 2017, and is the current Sports Physiotherapist at the Cricket Victoria Cricket Academy, managing three of the girl’s teams (U 15-18 Victorian Girls).
  • Physiotherapist Millie Berkhout is the current team physiotherapist for both the AFLW and the VFLW at the Collingwood FC.
  • Physiotherapist Amy Shipperd regularly supports athletes at elite tennis events in Melbourne, such as the 2018 Australian Tennis Championships (ID) and was the Victorian Country U15 Girls Cricket physio at 2018 National U15 Cricket Championships.
  • Massage Therapist Phillip Boland is the Sports Massage Therapist with the Australian Federation Cup Tennis squad, travelling with the team to Fed Cup ties around the world.

Physioworks Physiotherapist Matthew Lynagh has worked for 3+ years in Elite Women’s sporting environments, with female athletes ranging from teens to adults, which along with the gender difference to male athletes present unique challenges.

“There are some obvious differences in injury rates and types of injuries that are more common in women compared to men” said Matthew. “There are multiple factors that increase the risk for women, they include anatomical differences, neuromuscular and hormonal differences. It has been well publicised over the last season that there have been a higher incidence of ACL tears in the women’s footy compared to the men. Research supports this higher incidence that has been seen in the AFLW, in fact women are 3-5 times more like to tear the ACL ligament” added Matthew.

This can be a result of factors such as anatomical differences, differences in hormones, different training experience, lower muscle mass and differences in male and female biomechanics. In the female athlete there can be a specific lack of strength/power in important muscle groups that protect our limbs i.e muscle, bone and joint, but mostly affect performance.

To address this, it is not just about getting stronger. It is about learning how to use the muscles individually, then as a group and then combining this into whole body functional movements, for example, when running. Once these patterns are achieved you are then developing the muscle strength.

Generally there are movement patterns, such as running, landing, changing direction, and in the case of AFLW specific movement patterns, such as fending off, kicking, tackling, picking up a ball and bumping, that can predispose to injury but most importantly inhibit or not optimise performance.

At Physioworks Health Group we can identify these movement patterns within your chosen sport and teach you programs and methods that you can do at home, at training and most importantly in the game of choice.

Collingwood AFLW and VFLW Physiotherapist Millie Berkhout takes learnings from working with elite female athletes into her everyday clinical assessment of female athletes when consulting at Physioworks Health Group.

“As a physio this may mean focussing more specifically for female athletes on correcting any biomechanical errors or “movement” errors, such as poor running or landing techniques, as well as working on enhancing muscle activation and strength”, commented Millie

Understanding these gender specific factors and having a depth of on-hand experience with working with women in elite sport allows the team at Physioworks Health Group to bring these experiences into our clinical assessments and to create tailored injury management programs that are customised to both the specific sport and the athlete.

Our experience translates to education of the female athlete, which is key reason for Physioworks Health Group supporting and sponsoring local community girl’s junior football at the Ashy Redbacks and the Waverley Park Hawks.

At Physioworks Health Group our aim is to ensure you are an “independent athlete” and that you quickly return to your everyday activity; whether that is a sporting pursuit or lifestyle activity. Thus you can be confident when visiting one of our five clinics that the Physioworks team can assist you, your daughter, grandmother or your friend’s with their problem.

Please contact your preferred Physioworks Health Group clinic for consultation.