Sports Therapy entails a higher level of training that includes a wider set of skills and supporting knowledge. There is general agreement within the UK of some core areas which are essential to sports therapy although the emphasis will vary amongst training providers with some favouring soft tissue therapy and others leaning towards rehabilitation or emergency care. It is widely accepted that sports therapy includes:
- Anatomy and physiology
- Sports massage
- Ethics and Professionalism
- Advanced Manual Therapy Skills
- Injury assessment and treatment
- Gait analysis
- Rehabilitation from injury
- First Aid and advanced trauma care
- Taping for Sport
- Other areas sometimes included are Electrotherapy, Strength & Conditioning, and/or Sports Nutrition.
Kinesiology tape is really stretchy.
Kinesio tape was created with a proprietary blend of cotton and nylon. It’s designed to mimic the skin’s elasticity so you can use your full range of motion. The tape’s medical-grade adhesive is also water-resistant and strong enough to stay on for three to five days, even while you work out or take showers.
When the tape is applied to your body, it recoils slightly, gently lifting your skin. It is believed that this helps to create a microscopic space between your skin and the tissues underneath it.
Practitioners sometimes use kinesiology taping as one part of an overall treatment plan for people who’ve been injured. The American Physical Therapy Association reports that kinesiology taping is most effective when it’s used in conjunction with other treatments like manual therapy.
Kinesiology tape is also used to add extra support to muscles or joints that need it. If you have patellofemoral stress syndrome, IT band friction syndrome, or Achilles tendonitis, kinesiology taping might help you.
Medical acupuncture is a therapeutic technique that involves inserting fine needles into certain points across the body, to encourage healing and pain relief.
Also referred to as ‘western acupuncture’, the practice differs from the ancient Chinese practice it derives from. While still using needles to stimulate the body’s natural healing abilities, it doesn’t adhere to the concepts of Qi or yin/yang, as followed in Chinese acupuncture.
Medical acupuncture is the use of acupuncture that typically follows a diagnosis. It can be used to treat a wide range of health conditions, but the most common reason to try medical acupuncture is for pain relief.
A course of acupuncture usually creates longer lasting pain relief than when a single treatment is used. Treatment might be once a week to begin with, then at longer intervals as the condition responds. A typical course of treatment lasts five to eight sessions.
Whilst acupuncture can be undertaken as a form of treatment on its own, it can also be used in conjunction with other complementary treatments, such as Osteopathy and Sports massage.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), which provides guidelines for the NHS on the use of treatments and care of patients, currently recommends acupuncture as a treatment for chronic tension-type headaches and migraines.
Other conditions commonly treated by acupuncture, though not officially recognised by NICE, include:
- chronic pain, such as neck pain
- joint pain
- dental pain
- postoperative pain
Needling specific body parts is thought to stimulate sensory nerves under the skin and in the muscles of the body. This results in the body producing natural substances, such as pain-relieving endorphins. It is thought that these naturally released substances are responsible for the beneficial effects experienced with acupuncture.
While some people respond very well to acupuncture and notice improvements in their symptoms, results can never be guaranteed. You may find that there is no significant change in your symptoms following treatment. That being said, the nature of the treatment often helps people to feel better in themselves, even if there is no real improvement in their medical condition. For instance, some patients notice that acupuncture promotes relaxation, and results in a feeling of improved well-being.
Sports massage is a form of massage involving the manipulation of soft tissue to benefit a person engaged in regular physical activity. Soft tissue is connective tissue that has not hardened into bone and cartilage; it includes skin, muscles, tendons, ligaments and fascia (a form of connective tissue that lines and unsheathes the other soft tissues).
Sports massage is designed to assist in correcting problems and imbalances in soft tissue that are caused from repetitive and strenuous physical activity and trauma. The application of sports massage, prior to and after exercise, may enhance performance, aid recovery and prevent injury.
The Origins of Massages
Massage is recorded as one of the earliest forms of physical therapy and was used over 3000 years ago in China, India and Greece. Its popular use in the Western world is largely due to the work of Per Henrik Ling (1776 – 1839), who developed the form of massage now known as Swedish massage.
Ling developed his own style of massage and exercise to help fencers and gymnasts, gaining international recognition in the process. Many of his ideas have formed the foundations of modern sports massage.
Today, there are many forms of massage available to assist us in maintaining our health and wellbeing. Sports massage has been accepted in America, Canada and Australia for many years now, while in the UK, the practice only became known and more widely used in the 1990s.
Therapeutic ultrasound has been
shown to cause increases in:
- healing rates
- tissue relaxation
- tissue heating
- local blood flow
- scar tissue breakdown
A typical ultrasound treatment will take from 3-15 minutes. In cases where scar tissue breakdown is the goal, this treatment time can be much longer. During the treatment the head of the ultrasound probe is kept in constant motion. If kept in constant motion, the patient should feel no discomfort at all.
The ultrasound waves are generated by a piezoelectric effect caused by the vibration of crystals within the head of the probe. The ultrasound waves that pass through the skin cause a vibration of the local soft tissues. This vibration or cavitation can cause a deep heating locally though usually no sensation of heat will be felt by the patient. In situations where a heating effect is not desirable, such as a fresh injury with acute inflammation, the ultrasound can be pulsed rather than continuously transmitted.
The effect of ultrasound via an increase in local blood flow can be used to help reduce local swelling and chronic inflammation, and, according to some studies, promote bone fracture healing. The intensity or power density of the ultrasound can be adjusted depending on the desired effect. A greater power density (measured in watt/cm2) is often used in cases where scar tissue breakdown is the goal. Ultrasound can also be used to achieve phonophoresis. This is a non-invasive way of administering medications to tissues below the skin; perfect for patients who are uncomfortable with injections. With this technique, the ultrasonic energy forces the medication through the skin. Cortisone, used to reduce inflammation, is one of the more commonly used substances delivered in this way. The most common conditions treated with ultrasound include soft tissue injuries such as tendonitis (or tendinopathy if you prefer), non-acute joint swelling and muscle spasm. Most muscle and ligament injuries can benefit from therapeutic ultrasound.
Unlike white medical or athletic tape, kinesiology tape lets you move normally. In fact, some studies show that it can enhance movement and endurance. Studies on athletes have shown that when kinesiology tape is used on fatigued muscles, performance improves.
Kinesiology tape can help re-train muscles that have lost function or that have gotten used to an unhealthy way of working.
For example, kinesiology taping can be used to correct posture in your head and neck. A 2017 study supports using it to help stroke patients improve the way they walk.
Some therapists think this may be because having the strange sensation of tape on your skin can make you more aware of how you’re standing or moving.
Some athletes use kinesiology taping to help them achieve peak performance and protect against injury when they’re competing in special events.
Although you should never use kinesiology tape on an open wound, there is some scientific evidence to suggest that kinesiology tape can improve the long-term appearance of scars after surgery or injury.
The answer for some people is: yes. But we need more research — what exists currently is inconsistent. Some studies indicate no difference in outcomes between kinesiology tape and placebos or “sham taping.”
Some studies show minimal or moderate gains. Many studies indicate that kinesiology taping is most effective when used together with conventional treatment methods.