Physioworks Health Group
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Australian Physiotherapy Association
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Physioworks Health Group

by David Francis, Director Physioworks Health Group, Senior Physiotherapist at the Collingwood FC (AFL)

At this time of year I really push the importance of recovery and rehabilitation for all winter contact sport participants, no matter the sport – football, netball, soccer, rugby – or the level in which the athlete is competing, be it elite or at local community level.

Some questions to ask yourself:

  • Did you play hurt this season?
  • Did you run and play without injury worry?
  • Did your body enable you to perform at your optimum level in the 2017 season?

So while the end of the season enables time for mental and physical rest … the time for improved health, fitness, performance and a successful 2018 actually starts now with successful recovery and injury rehabilitation.

This season, both at AFL and community sport level, I have treated numerous calf injuries.

Many refer to a calf muscle injury as an “old man injury” but the truth is that it is equally as prevalent in young athletes, especially if the injury is not diagnosed and managed correctly.

Here is a typical scenario I hear from my patients:

“During pre-season I was a bit tight in calf so I missed some sessions. It seemed to settle but after a couple of practice games it tightened up again. I missed games during the start of the season. When I came back, the hamstring on the same side was stiff, I could not run as fast. I missed some training so I could recover for games, which meant I lost conditioning and could not run out games… ”

Previous injuries on the same side, such as a sprained ankle, a knee problem, hip/groin pain, ongoing hamstring strain or back pain can all be related to the ongoing calf injury. Believe it or not, an ongoing shoulder injury can relate to lower limb injuries.  So correct diagnosis, treatment plan and rehabilitation are critical.

Do you have an injury symptom? Can you relate to a similar injury scenario?

The ultimate aim of successful rehabilitation is to build a tailored action plan to enable you a full pre-season designed to ensure:

  • Your condition is eliminated.
  • Physical conditioning is obtained.
  • Optimal performance and enjoyment in your chosen sport is achieved.

Perhaps you should further ponder these questions?

  • Am I moving correctly?
    • Do I walk correctly?
    • Do I run correctly?
    • Can I change direction easily?
    • Do I jump correctly?
    • Do I land correctly?
  • Am I strong enough?
  • Am I too tight to stretch correctly?
  • Am I in pain? (or have I been playing with pain?)
  • Do I need surgical opinion or medical intervention?

So no matter what part of your body is presenting with symptoms, no matter the sport you are playing or what level of competition you participate in, get it addressed now… post-season – not at the start of preseason, in the New Year or once the 2018 season is underway.

I’m always telling my patients “You are the CEO of your body” – meaning you are in charge of managing your body and making it perform to its optimum level.

Research studies, combined with my 25+ years professional experience in football, consulting at both AFL and community level, testify that if you do not have an effective pre-season your entire winter sport season will be compromised, with an increased likely hood of injury and with the athlete unlikely to reach optimal performance.

The experienced team of health care professionals at Physioworks Health Group, prides itself on evaluating, developing and monitoring tailored action plans to ensure best treatment and outcomes for male and female athletes of all ages and competition levels.

Remember there is only a small window in life for individuals to participate in competitive contact sport, such as football or netball, so now is your time to rest then get your body right and best prepared for another season.

You have the choice. Do you continue down the same path or do make changes to maximise your performance outcomes? The time to make those changes and the time for recovery and rehabilitation is now.

About Physioworks Health GroupPhysioworks Health Group has a team of dedicated physiotherapists and health care professionals providing a range of allied health-care services at clinics in Berwick, Cranbourne, Pakenham, Mulgrave and Camberwell. Our team provide services to elite sporting teams in the AFL, VFL, AFLW, and Cricket Victoria, and to local community football & netball leagues including the SEFNL, EDFL and WGFNC.

About David Francis – Specialist Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist*, Senior Physiotherapist for the Collingwood Football Club (AFL) and Director at Physioworks Health Group, David Francis  has 25+ years’ experience specialising in sports injury management, particularly injuries and rehabilitation associated with AFL.

*As awarded by the College of Australian Physiotherapy in 2009.