Osteopathy in Sport
Andrew Cunnington DO has a Post-Graduate Diploma in Osteopathic sports care from Leeds Metropolitan University and is an enthusiastic, but certainly not elite, cyclist, runner and participant in outdoor activities.
Jane Oates (MOst) is a qualified Pilates instructor who coaches individuals to rehabilitate them and their injuries; runs regular classes at a gym in Brighouse and for the West Yorkshire Fire Brigade at their Birkenshaw Headquarters. She has also recently become a Crossfit athlete.
Many of us like to participate in sports activities. From those who have an avid interest to those who just wish to keep fit; from the elite professional to the casual participant. Many of the injuries that occur when taking part in sports activities are the result of overuse i.e. playing too hard and too often e.g. tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow, and biceps tendinitis, or from not warming up properly beforehand or from not warming down after exercise.
Sometimes incorrect equipment can lead to injuries – ill-fitting footwear can cause hip, knee and foot injuries (e.g. Achilles injuries). Reduced joint flexibility will affect the degree of performance and may result in injury if the player is unaware that they cannot perform to the same level as they used to, for example golfers who cannot turn at the waist as well as they used to, and the enthusiastic older footballer whose knees do not bend as well as they once did.
Young people especially are vulnerable in sport as their growing bodies are often expected to perform to high standards and they put exceptional physical demands on themselves. The good news is that although sports injuries are common, those who are fit tend to recover more quickly and easily from their injuries.
How Osteopathy Can Help
An osteopath can help improve performance as well as treat the occurrence of injury. By using their knowledge of diagnosis and highly developed palpatory skills they can help to restore structural balance, improve joint mobility and reduce adhesions and soft tissue restrictions so that ease of movement is restored and performance enhanced.
For those of you wishing to keep fit, the osteopath can help you keep supple and improve muscle tone so reducing the risk of injury to soft tissue unaccustomed to the extra work they are being asked to do. Advice on diet and exercise which will help you with your specific sport may also be offered.
- Begin slowly and build up, especially after an injury
- Warm up first with progressively increasing movements that mimic the sport you are about to participate in. Warm down with stretches afterwards
- Drink plenty of water when exercising to keep hydrated
- Exercise regularly, and try to alternate the types of exercise that you are doing every day to avoid overloading the same tissues repetitively
- Following a joint injury apply ice wrapped in a wet tea towel (to avoid freeze burns) to the area for 10-15 minutes, up to every 2 hours, if practical. Apply a bandage to compress the tissues and reduce swelling. Elevate and rest if possible.
Professionalism And Safety
To qualify, an osteopath must study for four to five years for an undergraduate degree. This is similar to a medical degree, with more emphasis on anatomy and musculoskeletal medicine and includes more than 1,000 hours of training in osteopathic techniques. By law, osteopaths must register with the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC). It is an offence for anyone to call themselves an osteopath if they are not registered.
The British Medical Association’s guidance for General Practitioners states that doctors can safely refer patients to osteopaths.