Athletes are always looking for that competitive edge. Being a spit second faster, a little stronger and having better endurance can mean a big difference when it comes to competitive athletics as games and races often come down to photo finishes and last second plays. Today many physical therapy practices now include strength and conditioning clinics for everyone from high school football players to major league baseball players to help individuals reduce the risk of injury and improve their agility, endurance and strength. A major part of modern sports medicine is preventative techniques that help athletes stretch and train properly to avoid common sports injuries such as sprains and strains.
One way to help athletes avoid injury and maximize their athletic skills is through conditioning. No one simply takes to the field or court and jumps right into mid-season form. Athletes need to work their bodies into shape and most of the grueling conditioning is done prior to the start of the season. Physical therapists and strength and conditioning coaches can be very helpful in planning training programs that will improve balance, speed, strength, explosiveness, stability and agility. Through specially designed programs including core strengthening and plyometric exercises therapists and coaches can help athletes train their bodies to be prepared for specific athletic activities that will improve their performance and reduce the chance of injury.
While many people think of physical therapy as a rehabilitation service that takes place after an injury or surgery, studies and test show that the exercises and programs that make up physical therapy treatment can be used as preventative measures that will train a person’s body to be more prepared for the rigors of athletics. For instance, proprioception is used by trainers and coaches to reduce an athlete’s reaction time to an adverse situation which minimizes injuries such as ankle sprains and knee sprains. The less time it takes a football player to react to an oncoming tackler the better his chances of avoiding a hit. And obviously the lesser hits you take in a game the less chance you have of being hurt.
Physical therapy has demonstrated that through multi-directional agility training and proper stretching techniques athletes can not only improve their strength and conditioning but also reduce the risk of injury. No matter what sport your participate in, from wrestling and swimming to track and field and boxing, your body undergoes intense physical strain and the only way to prepare is through specific sports training programs that are designed to improve endurance, reaction time and agility.