If you have a sport injury that requires medical attention, there are numerous professionals who specialize in sport-related conditions. SportMedBC maintains an online Directory of Practitioners where you can search for practitioners in your area.
The Sports Medicine Health Care Team
Sports medicine is ideally suited to a team approach. Each professional discipline contributes towards identifying new approaches to, and perspectives on, best practices as they relate to the care of athletes and active individuals.
PHYSICIANS: Primary care physicians who specialize in sport medicine are usually general practitioners who have undertaken additional training in the area of diagnosing and treating conditions relating to sport and exercise. Specialists such as orthopedic surgeons become involved when the problem requires a surgical solution. Most primary care physicians who specialize in sport medicine require a referral from your family doctor. And, all appointments with orthopedic surgeons will require a referral.
PHYSIOTHERAPISTS/ATHLETIC THERAPISTS: Physiotherapists focus on the rehabilitation of injuries. Sport therapists upgrade their training to include injury prevention and assessment, maintenance of conditioning, and progressive return to activity. Physiotherapists and athletic therapists can be accessed directly by the patient without a referral.
CHIROPRACTORS: Chiropractors manage a variety of neuromusculoskeletal conditions primarily through spinal manipulation, though they also use exercise and various rehabilitation procedures. Chiropractic treatment can be accessed directly by the patient.
PODIATRISTS: Podiatrists specialize in the treatment of foot and lower leg injuries. Podiatric sports medicine consists of assessment and treatment of biomechanical problems and injuries often utilizing orthotics combined with exercises and stretches for muscle imbalances. A referral is not required to see a podiatrist.
OTHERS: Sports medicine is a wide-ranging discipline and it is difficult for any one practitioner to have all the answers. Professionals from other disciplines provide specialized skills acquired in their training and, together with the practitioners listed above, form the sports medicine “team”. These include massage therapists, dietitians, etc.
Returning to Activity Following Injury
Many exercisers frequently endanger their immediate or future health by returning to action too soon. If you do suffer an injury, keep in mind the following principles before returning to activity:
- Ensure pain-free range of motion in the injured area.
- Check that your strength, endurance, coordination and speed of movement are equal to the uninjured side or back to pre-injured levels.
- Ensure that you are psychologically prepared to return and confident you will not be re-injured.
Alternate Training if You Become Injured
Injury rarely means complete rest is required. Try pool exercising in water or stationary cycling as a way to maintain your fitness level. You will keep your muscles in shape without the impact of running/walking. When you are ready to begin your running/walking program again, remember to ease into it slowly. Your body needs time to readjust itself to exercising with full body weight.
Certain injuries will mandate that you refrain from weight bearing activity. Deep water running allows you to maintain and even enhance your fitness while the injury heals. When exercising in the pool, try to mimic your land running/walking technique: keeping your body slightly forward of vertical and moving your arms and legs just like you run/walk on land. The head should look forward. It is important to wear a flotation belt, which will help you to keep your body in proper alignment (avoid rotational movements of the spine). Place the belt around your waist, and starting in deep water, simulate your running/walking action. Try not to over stride. Once you are comfortable, gradually move across the pool. Don’t forget to warm-up and cool down afterward your water workout.
Before starting to cycle, always ensure that the bike is set up properly. To ensure that the seat height is correct, sit on the seat and extend one leg down. You should have a slight bend at your knee with your foot resting on the pedal. Try to keep your knees in direct alignment with your second toe. If you are using a computer-programmed bike, set it on manual so that you have control over the intensity. Start out with some light spinning. As you move into your workout, your focus should be on the RPM’s (or revolutions per minute). Work up to 75 RPM’s and try maintaining that for approximately 20 minutes. Be careful not to increase the tension so high that you cannot maintain your RPM’s.
All of these health care professionals are trained to help you return to sport once you are injured. Each focus on his/her own specialty to provide the most complete care so you can heal as soon as possible. Be sure to refer to the online Directory of Practitioners on the SportMedBC website for further details and contact information.
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