Physiotherapists, the new trainers

Physiotherapy at the Sports Injury Centre, Safdarjung Hospital

Physiotherapy at the Sports Injury Centre, Safdarjung Hospital   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

A growing number recreational athletes are turning to physiotherapists for their training plans

If you’re thinking of starting a sporting activity, even if for leisure, the first thing you ought to be mindful of, is endurance.

“Runners or cyclists...over a period of time are involving every muscle of their bodies to produce [and sustain] that effort. So, they need to be confident and fit in their core and in proprioceptive areas. So, all components of fitness — nutrition, endurance and strength — have to be addressed before starting these kinds of activities,” says Dr. Anshu Gulati, a senior physiotherapist at Sports Injury Centre, Safdarjung Hospital (SIC).

She adds that physiotherapists also guide runners, especially marathon runners, on “the re-hydration process to follow during running”.

Holistic training

Suresh Srinivasan, 45, a runner and management consultant who is preparing for the Berlin Marathon in September, says a physio plays a huge part in his preparation.

“Constant engagement with a physio helps realise full potential,” he says, adding that “a physio helps a runner not only recover from an injury faster and in the right manner, but also helps carry on one’s onward running journey confidently, in a structured and scientific way.

Suresh Srinivasan at a run

Suresh Srinivasan at a run   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

For instance, runners with an ankle or knee injury, are advised against “load-bearing” physical activity, says Dr. Badrinath Prathi, Head Sports Physiotherapist at the DDCA. Instead, they are advised “unloading” activities, like swimming and walking.

To this end, consulting a physiotherapist — professionals at an accessible midway point between medical professionals and coaches or trainers — is now proving fruitful for those engaging in recreational sports.

Injury management

Physiotherapists like Dr. Prathi also stress on regular medical assessments, on which they can follow up. “Checking on vitamin deficiencies, full body screening to get the idea of basic risk factors and muscular skeletal movement, is crucial,” he says. “We re-assess every three months — the person need not be in pain to go through this process.”

“Compliance” between a physio and the patient helps in achieving consistent performance, says Dr. Gulati. “If a cyclist is going for a long ride and doesn’t want to get his knees injured, then it is our responsibility to provide him with preventive measures,” she says.

Cyclist Tarundeep Singh

Cyclist Tarundeep Singh   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Preventive measures that a cyclist, for example, can take to avoid injuries include working on their flexibility, core strength, and doing mobility exercises. "The seat height of the cycle should be adjusted according to length of the limb too,” Prathi adds. “They have to do opposite mobility exercises like back and neck strengthening in the cool down process, as the cyclists are always bending forward," says Dr. Prathi, who ran in a 100km ultra trail race last November.

For the long haul

Three years ago, an avid cyclist Tarundeep Singh, 31, suffered a tendon tear in his left shoulder after falling off his cycle. “I was about to start allopathic treatment. But therapy and rehab exercises helped me get back to cycling within two months,” he says adding “the more we do any physical activity the more we need a physio’s advice, as we are pushing our limits.

Physiotherapists are also looking into metabolism analyses to understand how many calories you are burning per kilometre of activity. Then, accordingly, they suggest food plans too.

Given all this, Both Singh and Srinivasan agree that physio consults add a “long term benefit” to performance. More importantly, they help in reinforcing the importance of pre- and post-activity stretches and cool down exercises, an undervalued part of training when training as an amateur.

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Printable version | Apr 8, 2020 9:35:26 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/fitness/are-physiotherapists-the-new-trainers/article30911438.ece

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