Back in the day, professional footballers who were injured on the pitch would rely on coaches running on with a bucket of water and “magic” sponge to heal all wounds. It was total nonsense, of course, but psychologically it must have had some benefit for the players.
Now there are trained medics at all sports events, even at the junior amateur level, to give immediate, vital first aid, with adequate equipment at hand.
The role and demands of sports physiotherapists in the industry increases exponentially.
It’s not just mainstream pro sports, but new activities are coming onto the scene like CrossFit and various Tough Guy challenges such as Tough Mudder and Warrior Dash.
It is inevitable, whether it be an elite sports person or a weekend warrior, that at some point, their bodies will succumb to injury and require a visit to a physiotherapist.
A sports physiotherapist is concerned with the early and accurate diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal injuries.
Posture, movement, gait, pain and stiffness are some of the categories addressed during initial assessment. Once evaluated, a sports physio has several key objectives for treating the injury.
One is protecting the injury to prevent further damage, as well as measuring recovery and controlling inflammation.
Another is to return functional movement and use by restoring flexibility and strength in and around the injured area.
The physio also decides when the client is ready to return to competitive action.
This is possibly the most important role a physio has because if patients go back to exercising regularly and in a normal manner before making a complete recovery, they will just hurt themselves again.
Typically, a second injury of the same sort is far more damaging and will take longer to repair.
The staff at Cayman Physiotherapy works closely with coaches and trainers to ensure athletes are match fit and not just pain free.
The work of a sports physio at Cayman Physiotherapy ranges from the application of the latest scientific techniques to the oldest holistic remedies and includes careful screening and profiling, muscle manipulation, massage therapy, active release work, acupuncture, exercise prescription and hydro (water) therapy.
In addition, they advise on how to train properly, maintain correct posture during strength training and how to stretch to keep muscles, tendons and ligaments warm and supple, therefore preventing injury.
Over the years, Cayman Physiotherapy has volunteered at several sporting events both locally and overseas.
In the past year, the team has volunteered at the London Olympics, Cayman Islands Marathon, World Squash Ladies Open, junior squash tournaments, Legends Tennis, Under 19s netball, Stand-up Paddleboard Challenge and International Volleyball Tournament.
A weekly exercise class at the Pines Retirement Home is also given with the philosophy that “you are never too old to stay fit and healthy.”
Cayman Physiotherapy’s Lindsay Bridgeman explained. “We are just trying to get the message out there that taking care of your body before, during and after sporting activity is essential for long term goals whether you are taking part for fun or are part of an elite team. We are very happy to be so involved in our community.”
Al Bartice runs the Sports Injury Centre in Grand Pavilion. He, too, has worked extensively with many sports people in the Cayman Islands, often voluntarily.
Bartice has many years’ experience as a physio but only in the last five years has he specialized in sports. His previous work included geriatrics, pediatrics, mental health, spinal cords, burns units, strokes and general rehab.
“I love working in sports,” Bartice said. “Everybody is different and not just their injuries, it’s their speed of recovery as well and how quickly they return to competition.
“They have to go through phases and getting them back to where they were is part of the satisfaction of the job.”