Behind Every Successful Athlete is a Physiotherapist

One of the most important elements of the British Olympic Squad now in Brazil will be a team of physiotherapists.

As a practising physio myself, I appreciate that behind any successful sports team is an unseen group of people ensuring that athletes can give their best when they enter the arena.

I love helping sports people and teams to achieve their full potential on the field and we offer a wide range of treatments specifically for sports injuries.

But you don’t have to be an elite Olympian to feel the benefit; whether you’re competing seriously at regional or junior level or just want to continue turning out for your village cricket team, physiotherapy can ensure you’re at your best whatever your level.

The True Olympic Spirit: Free Physio at Rio

All the physios who work for the British Olympic teams are unpaid volunteers who give their time for free during the two months of build-up and competition.

Part of a wider Performance Services Team now based in Brazil, they won’t be seen on the winner’s podium but their support to the UK’s Olympic, Paralympic and Special Olympic teams are crucial, ensuring that athletes remain in the right condition to perform.

Physiotherapists Help Bring Home the Gold

During the 2012 London Olympics, 24 physios helped the UK team win a haul of 65 medals, including 29 golds.

According to a report in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, the most common parts of the body treated in 2012 were:

  • Knees (15.4%),
  • Lumbar spine/lower back (15.2%)
  • Upper leg (12.6%)

The main reasons people sought physio help ranging from taping to therapeutic soft tissue massage, were pre-existing conditions and, unsurprisingly, overuse due to the competition.

Even some of the supporting staff for the London Olympics required treatment, after long days on their feet at the venues.

Warming Up for Brazil

Based in the Olympic Village at Barra de Tijuca, team physios will be responsible for providing physiotherapy to athletes during their preparation and competition as well as post-event recovery phase throughout July and August.

Offering More than Just a Massage

The physiotherapy department will also be offering advice to promote health and preventative care, working with sports medicine specialists.

The Performance Services Team will also contribute to the mental readiness of competitors by checking that facilities are available and athletes are aware of everything they need, from shuttle bus timings to toilet locations and wi-fi log-in details.

They will also be advising athletes on the effects of the high temperatures in Rio and helping to minimise concerns about the Zika virus.

Good Luck Team GB

Like much of the country, I’m looking forward to a feast of different sports over the coming weeks but I’ll also be thinking about the unsung heroes who stay out of the limelight but who will play a vital part in our team’s performance. Good luck Team GB.