Two of our osteopaths have post graduate qualifications in the treatment of sports injuries.
Roy Knightbridge gained an MSc in Osteopathic Sports Care, Sports & Exercise Science from Leeds Metropolitan University. He currently works on the European Golf Tour as part of the European Tour Performance Institute.
Arabella Gaunt has a Sport & Exercise Science degree and an MSc in Sport & Exercise Medicine from Queen Mary. She currently runs the Sports Injury Clinic at the University College of Osteopathy (formerly the BSO).
THE ROLE OF AN OSTEOPATH IN PROFESSIONAL SPORT
Any practitioner who has had the opportunity to work in sport whether it be with a local amateur team or at a professional level will have experienced the hard work, enjoyment, pressure and rewards that this kind of work provides.
Sport is something that provides great enjoyment, social interaction, and health benefits and is a large part of everyday life for millions of people but in the modern era of professional sport it is not only the desire for winning trophies but the huge financial rewards that are available to the sportsmen and women who are at the top of their game.
The golf swing places a lot of physical and biomechanical demands on the body, as does the lifestyle of the professional golfer which may involve travelling across Europe and also across different continents. Tournaments are often won or lost by a single shot, or at the other end of the order of merit, a single shot being the difference between keeping or losing your playing rights, it is important that they keep themselves as fit and healthy as possible. Our role working with these sportsmen takes many different paths, from assessing and treating injuries to helping and advising on warm up routines and strength & conditioning which is of huge importance to all athletes, not just golfers.
A typical golf tournament starts on a Thursday and consists of four 18 hole rounds, finishing on the Sunday, but our work starts on the Tuesday morning. The pre-tournament days are often when we are at our busiest, assessing and treating injuries that may have just arisen and continuing treatment plans for ongoing issues. If a golfer has to miss a tournament through injury, or has to take an extended period of time off through injury, then they are potentially missing out on prize money, world ranking points and European Tour Order of Merit points. It is therefore vital that their injuries are assessed correctly and that an appropriate treatment plan is put into place so that they can get back to playing.
Identifying the cause of an injury is key to the effective assessment and management of their injury. As a general rule, problems that we see on tour can relate to a few issues:
Volume – Have they hit more balls recently, been practicing more, playing more? Have they started a different training programme or increased their workload?
Technique – Have they changed anything in their swing, equipment, set up, footwear?
Trauma – Have they hit a shot from thick rough, caught a tree root, lifted something too heavy, forced a shot too hard?
The hectic schedule and intense pressure of elite sport means that there are other contributory factors to a golfer’s performance and health. Playing conditions, food options, weather patterns, sleep environments can vary hugely from one week to another so it is vital that our management also involves advice and education on nutrition, hydration and travel advice.
The ‘Race to Dubai Physio Unit’ travels to the majority of the European events on the tour and has fantastic facilities for the players. There is an area at one end of the truck that contains exercise bikes, kettle bells, weight lifting rack, exercise bands, foam rollers and space for the players to warm up and work on their conditioning programmes. At the front of the truck there is space for three treatment couches and a consultation room.
The usage of the facilities in the truck varies widely from player to player. Some of the golfers will use the truck regularly, whether that be for advice and treatment on an injury, help in their active warm up before a round or to use the gym facilities to work on their strength & conditioning programme. For a number of golfers, coming in to the truck for a warm up and some assistance in getting their joints and muscles loose is a key part of their preparation, both physical and mental, before they start their round.
The Unit was set up in 1992 in response to the growth of the game of golf and to meet the health and fitness requirements of professional golfers on Tour. Over the last 20 years the service has grown and developed enormously to provide a world class, comprehensive service to enable Tour golfers to complete and perform at the highest level week in week out across the globe. Within the unit there is a multinational and multidisciplinary mix of specialists including Physiotherapists, Osteopaths, Chiropractors and Sports Therapists, working closely with the sports medicine team led by the European Tour’s Chief Medical Officer Dr Roger Hawkes. A team of us are out at each event to provide sports medicine support and ensure the professional golfers on Tour have rapid access to the best medical care and performance service at every opportunity. At several events on tour throughout the year we are supported by some of the UK’s leading upper limb surgeons and radiologists. Being able to work as part of a multidisciplinary team is a vital part of our role working in elite sport.
(With contribution from ETPI colleague Nigel Tilley)
If you have any questions, please telephone the practice on 01708 762441 and ask to speak to one of our osteopaths.