7 Key Benefits of Physical Therapy for Athletes
Athletes of all ages, shapes, and sizes can experience injuries and get hurt. Whether they’re in practice, training, or learning a new skill, professional athletes and young adults, and emerging youth athletes are often injured populations due to the high stress and demands placed upon the body. After getting hurt, athletes must rehabilitate the injury and condition their bodies to prevent re-injury.
This is where an advanced physical therapist who knows how to provide elite sports therapy can be the difference between winning after an injury or missing the mark because of an injury. But participating in physical therapy for athletes isn’t just about winning or losing. Physical therapy can help improve your overall athletic performance in 7 different ways.
The 7 Key Benefits of Sports Physical Therapy
1. Improved Range of Motion
In live athletics, joints are taken to the very edge of the tissue’s strength. This is where injured tissues can give out and be torn or injured. When an athlete has to return to a sport, an advanced physical therapist must take their patient to the edge of tissue overload to prepare the tissue for live athletics. Physical therapists must push an athlete’s joints to their very end and ensure there is no pain, resistance, laxity, or apprehension, which helps improve an athlete’s range of motion.
2. Neuromuscular Control
Coordinating the various body parts to work together is the job of sports medicine physical therapists. During neuromuscular coordination, the focus is on the movements of the joints by the muscles, tendons, and nerves. By focusing on these parts of the body, the injured athlete prepares to return to sports activities by increasing movement speed during exercises and progressively adding weight.
Many non-sports physical therapists underestimate the significance of ensuring athletes know how to position or move their bodies to complete an exercise or task. But small details about positioning and technique can help an athlete align their body correctly to load proper tissue (bone, tendons, muscles), unload the wrong tissue, conserve energy and enhance movement efficiency and performance. That’s why our sports physical therapists start technique training for specific exercises starting on day one and remain focused on technique throughout all levels and stages of the ARC Progression.
4. Muscle Balancing
Athletes often move in all directions to perfect their sport and play at a high level. This can lead to repetitive training. When this happens, emphasized muscles can be overworked compared to their counterpart, becoming the dominant muscle group. In addition to sport-specific training, athletes also need to train muscle groups to balance the load on joints and tendons and create synergy in the body to avoid injury and return to live athletics.
5. Power, Strength, and Speed
Depending on an athlete’s specific sport, many different power, strength, and speed combinations can be required. To maximize muscular strength and size (hypertrophy), athletes must load their muscles with heavier weights, increase their sets and reduce the repetitions per set. Many patients do three sets of 10 with weights that are not challenging enough to produce true muscular strength. Maximum power is the ability to move weight over a distance in the shortest possible time. Athletes need to be challenged to work as quickly as possible against a resistance to build their power. Speed is the ability to move the body (or body parts) as rapidly as possible. Most sports require the ability to move quickly, and each patient requires individual exercises to coordinate body parts where there is a stable platform that generates speed.
6. Joint Torque
Rotational load at high velocity is paramount for return to almost any sport. Generating and controlling this rotational force over joints and body parts is one of the main focuses of sports physical therapy that will benefit athletes. This includes manual therapy and functional exercise progression, starting with single-plane movements and progressing to multi-plan and multi-joint motions.
7. Prepare Athlete for Coaching
When advanced physical therapy is almost complete, the athlete should be returning to practice and coaching. This crossover of sports therapy and live athletics allows the athlete to make sure they can return to their sport without any new symptoms. Working out the last areas of pain or tightness will ensure a safe return to coaches who expect to have an athlete ready to perform at their best.
When to Seek Advice and Treatment from an Elite Sports Physical Therapy Specialist
Professional and emerging athletes should seek advice and treatment from an elite sports physical therapy specialist when they have:
- A Limited Ability To Participate In Sports. Many times athletes wait too long to seek the advice of a sports physical therapist. The athlete plays injured until they realize the pain isn’t going away on its own. Then they take about 2-3 weeks off from their sport only to try and return back at the same pre-injury level. However, if they do nothing during the rest period, the pain never really goes away. Seeking the advice of an elite sports physical therapy specialist can help them return to their sport with a remarkable ability to participate.
- Early Sports Injury Treatment. The best advice is to see a sports physical therapist when you first start having symptoms that last longer than a couple of days or when the symptoms impact your ability to train or participate at your desired level. Mild and acute symptoms of pain or tightness are much easier to resolve than chronic conditions.
- Sports Injury Prevention. Prevention is preventing new injuries and also preventing a return of an old injury. Knowing the proper mechanics or movements, being able to load the correct tissue or unload the opposite tissue is huge in keeping elite and recreational athletes participating in their sport. Advanced physical therapy is worth its weight in gold so that athletes train correctly to maximize performance and minimize injury.
Helping You Get Back To Your Sport With Improved Performance
At Athletic Physical Therapy, we believe injuries shouldn’t stop you from playing a sport you love. But most injuries don’t just go away on their own. Physical therapy can help you heal from the injury, improve your range of motion, enhance your technique, and help you regain the power, strength, and speed you need to succeed at your sport again. Our elite sports physical therapists can help you accomplish those goals.
Contact us today if you’re ready to get back to the sport you love.