Osteopathy is a form of alternative medicine that uses physical manipulations and manual adjustments to muscle, joints, and bones to diagnose and treat pain conditions. It addresses not just the afflicted body part, but the entire body. The wellbeing of the patient is believed to be rooted in the ability of different body systems to work correctly together. Most patients that see osteopaths tend to suffer from back pain problems.
Those that have suffered sports injuries can also be treated by an osteopath. These practitioners are especially popular in the sports arena as they take a holistic approach that seeks to improve the entire health condition of the patient. They are also favoured for seeking to identify and address the underlying cause of the condition and not just treat the symptoms. Osteopathy seeks to restore balance within the body by relieving a wide range of health conditions.
Some of the common conditions suffered by athletes that are well-treated by osteopaths include:
- Back and neck injuries
- Knee, hip, wrist and ankle injuries
- Foot injuries
- Muscle strain
- Ligament injuries
How Osteopathy Works
Athletes often fall victim to a wide range of injuries due to the strain they put on their bodies. They greatly benefit from osteopathic treatments that can reduce pain, encourage faster healing of injuries, and improve overall health.
Osteopathic treatments rely on various techniques including:
- Massage – This is where osteopaths apply pressure to soft tissues in an attempt to relieve tension and pain. It can also promote better lymphatic drainage and boost circulation.
- Manipulation – The osteopath uses high-velocity thrust motions at specific points along the spine that may produce a popping or clicking sound. Helps to lengthen and strengthen muscles.
- Functional technique – This involves gently moving joints into different positions that help to reduce pain and tension before restoring them to their original position.
- Muscle energy – This is a resistance technique where the patient is asked to push against the osteopath as they also push back. This aids in improving the range of motion to affected joints.
- Myofascial release – This is a deep tissue massage that uses sustained pressure to relax and stretch muscles.
- Exercise prescriptions – To be undertaken between treatment sessions. Helps to strengthen, improve balance and coordination.
Why Osteopathy for Sports Injuries
Sports injuries will most often afflict muscles and bones. These are the parts of the body that osteopaths specialise in treating. Osteopathy also tends to take a long view. It is not just about relieving the condition in the short term, but also about improving the overall health of the patient in the long term. Athletes thrive because their physical exertions are a big contributor to good health. Osteopathy seeks to ensure they can enjoy that good health for as long a stretch as possible. The treatments are undertaken to ensure the body becomes strengthened and can better prevent further injuries from occurring.
As part of their diagnosis, osteopaths will work to establish if other body systems are being affected by the health condition. Identifying any possibly wider implications is a good way to ensure the improved health of an athlete and reduce the risk they will suffer other injuries.
Treatments that avoid the need to take medications or undergo surgery are also preferred by athletes. This is because the medication can interfere with performance and in the case of pain medications, could lead to addictions. No surgery also means avoiding a much longer recovery time.
Besides the treatment of the injuries, osteopaths also seek to improve overall health by looking into other aspects of the athlete’s life. This can include whether they warm up before physical activity, the postures they hold, and diet. They provide applicable advice to help improve rehabilitation, improve flexibility and motion, and reduce the risk of future sports injuries.
Osteopathic treatment can also help in strengthening muscles that have been inactive for a long time. Possibly from having to recover from a traumatic sports injury. Recovering athletes are also educated on different aspects of self-care. This can include how to safely build up strength and endurance.
So with osteopathy, athletes can expect to benefit from:
- Reduced pain
- Faster recovery from injuries
- Improved physical health and performance
- Less frequent occurrence of injuries
What to Expect
Because of how popular osteopaths are in sporting arenas, many sports teams, arenas, and events engage them. If you are a part of a sporting team or club, there is a good chance the management will have engaged an osteopath to treat sports injuries. If you do not have access to this practitioner, you can consult whatever other healthcare professional is accessible or your GP.
During your first consultation, the osteopath will review your medical history, ask about your symptoms, and what other treatments you have already sought. They will then undertake a physical exam of the problem area and other possible body parts. This may require you to take off some clothing or even wear a gown. You may also be requested to perform certain simple motions as part of the exam.
If the situation warrants, your osteopath may also request you undertake certain lab tests or scans. When the results are ready, your osteopath will discuss if osteopathy is the best option for treatment. if it is not recommended, your osteopath will likely refer you to another specialist or your GP. If recommended, your osteopath will ask for approval to proceed with creating a treatment plan. Every case is different and depending on your condition, you will likely require a customised plan. It may take a while to feel the benefits of these treatments, so patience is key. If you experience any pain or discomfort during or after sessions, notify your osteopath immediately.