Why physiotherapists are so important for pro footballers
The physiotherapist is one of the most essential football club staff roles. They have been the mainstay of medical care in football and will continue to be precisely that.
ON THE BALL: Physios have to react quickly during games.
How to become a pro footballer physiotherapist is what most graduates finishing physiotherapy courses want to know.
You can work in any environment when you qualify as a chartered physiotherapist. There's not many better than professional football though!
The best way to become a physio at a football club is to add experience or qualifications needed to work at one. Areas commonly looked at are psychology, nutrition or sports science.
Some even do FA coaching badges to be better equipped.
Knowledge of the game is essential. The needs of elite footballers are specialised. Developing as a physiotherapist for football injuries will mean volunteer roles. Amateur football clubs, local authority leisure centres, gyms or health clubs are routes. More structured experiences are shadowing placements. The NHS or private sports injury clinics are suitable for this.
What does a physiotherapist do for footballers?
Physios diagnose, treat, and help prevent football injuries within a football club. The day to day physiotherapist role involves helping players with injury rehabilitation programmes. Depending on the club's size, the physio will work alone or as part of bigger teams of back-room staff. Teams have nutritionists, sports scientists, strength & conditioning coaches, masseurs and doctors working together. Most Premier League and big Championship clubs have physios for their academy squads.
STRAPPED UP: Football physiotherapists treat and manage injuries.
Physios do the following:
- Deal with injuries
- Log all injury information
- Seek outside help from podiatrists & chiropractors
- Work alongside surgeons
- Basic nutrition
- Take training and match day warm-ups/downs
- Advise on general player health and wellbeing
Today, dealing with football injuries involves education. Injury prevention is high on the agenda. Players not on the pitch cost clubs millions over a football season. Research into how footballers get injured is on-going. Load (how much is done physically), lifestyle, nutrition and how a player moves (biomechanics) can affect when injury strikes. Giving players a better understanding of how to prevent a football injury is vital.
Injured players should have the rehabilitation process explained to them from physios.
LESSON: Physios work hard to teach players about quicker & safer rehabilitation.
Pro players we work with all say how important relationships are when they are on the road to recovery. Physiotherapists spend a lot of time with injured players. A typical day for a fit player is between 1hr to 2hrs. Injured players can be in from 9 am to 5 pm.
Beyond knowing the medical textbook stuff, football club physiotherapists need good communication skills. Players out through injury can become frustrated, angry or even depressed. Sometimes mental performance coaches or sports psychologists can step in if needed. The connection between a player and physio has to have trust, respect and discipline.
SUPPORT: Players have to trust physios to help them on their road to recovery.
Physiotherapists have to be strong characters. Important players sidelined brings pressure. First-team coaches will be asking every day when they can be fit for selection. Looking after a player's best interests can mean standing up to the manager. It can also mean telling a player they aren't yet ready to return.
Professional players are competitive; they'll try and play through pain. Physios have to judge when it's safe to do so. The last thing anyone wants is for a player to re-injure and be out for even longer than before.
It's easy for club backroom staff to settle into routines. Keeping up to date with the latest equipment for cryotherapy, shockwave therapy, ultrasound equipment, and kinesiology allows for better player treatment.
Being a physio at a football club is a rewarding job with great responsibility.