3 Unique Benefits of Sports Physical Therapy

When we experience pain or limited mobility, many of us seek out the expertise of a physical therapist to help decrease pain and regain movement. The overall goal of physical therapy is to help the patient overcome limited movement and restore the ability to perform functional activities in their daily lives. But did you know that physical therapy is a diverse field with many specialties? One such specialty is sports physical therapy. Sports physical therapy focuses on athletic or physically active people who suffer from an injury or condition. There are several distinguishing qualities of sports physical therapy that are a bit more specific than general orthopedic rehabilitation.


At the start of a sports physical therapy evaluation, an athlete would undergo functional testing. Functional testing refers to a series of tests and measures that require an athlete to mimic the skills and movements necessary for their specific sport. Administering functional testing helps the sports physical therapist determine weaknesses and areas of improvement. This information is then incorporated into the athlete’s plan of care.


With the information gathered from the initial evaluation, a sports physical therapist can choose from numerous protocols tailored to each individual sport. These protocols are focused on training each of the skills required for the sport of choice. For example, an individual who is recovering from a shoulder injury and wants to return to competitive tennis, would be put through a series of exercises that mimic forehand shots, backhand shots, and serves. Implementing these sports-specific exercises helps the therapist, the athlete, and the physician all know when the athlete is ready to handle the physical demands of tennis. In addition, these protocols can also be position-specific, because sometimes different positions on a team require different skill sets (e.g. pitcher versus catcher).


Sports physical therapy also focuses on prevention. While athletes are usually seen after an injury, it is important to note that sports physical therapy also addresses maintenance of the rehab program and prevention of any further injury. Many athletic injuries are related to faulty biomechanics or muscle weakness, so working under the guidance of a sports physical therapist, each athlete can receive a comprehensive program of exercises and modalities that focus on maintaining muscle strength and endurance, as well as correct any biomechanical insufficiencies. The athlete can feel confident that he or she has all of the tools necessary to successfully maintain the gains made during rehab.

Think you may need sports physical therapy? If so, please give us a call at 978-263-0007 to schedule an appointment at any of our three offices in Acton, Bedford, and Sudbury, Massachusetts.


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