Physio by the Beach: Volleyball

Physio by the Beach: Volleyball

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by Rachael Butterworth, Physiotherapist

Working all weekend at Manly Beach is hardly a normal day in the office. While I rocked up in singlet, shorts and thongs, it was still work and my physiotherapist hat had to be on for the entire weekend.

The 2011 NSW Open Beach Volleyball Tournament was held at Manly Beach on the 8th and 9th January. There was a very high level of competition with 46 teams entered. It was fantastic to see some ex-Olympians still pushing their bodies for the love of their sport. Kerri Pottharst and Natalie Cook (gold medalists in the Sydney 2000 Olympics) teamed up again to see if they could take out top spot.

For the most part, my job entailed keeping all the players moving, making sure they would get through their next game (for more photos, click here).

Playing out 4-5 games over two days, in some pretty intense heat, definitely takes it out of you. Muscle fatigue sets in and the risk of injury becomes greater and greater.

It’s fair to say that early Sunday morning was the busiest time for me. Waking up after the previous day’s competition can feel like you have been bowled over by a steam roller, only to know that you have to do it all again. I am envious of this sort of commitment and passion to one’s sport.

There were a number of players requiring work on their neck and ‘spiking’ shoulder. Many of the players were carrying injuries. Their muscles were fatigued leading to tightness and spasm. They required a combination of massage and various stretching techniques to relieve pain and improve function in order to get them back on the sand.

A tournament like this requires these athletes to play numerous games in a day especially if they progress to the later stages of the competition. Their bodies are under extreme stress and the ones who can overcome their niggling injuries and utilise the physiotherapy treatment effectively have a greater chance of surviving through the weekend.

However, there were a couple of tournament stopping injuries.

One player sustained an L4/5 facet joint sprain, a type of back injury. It’s very rare after such an injury, for the player to get back on the court due to the amount of mobility required through the lower back. This led to tears and frustration, especially as she had sustained a prior lower back injury 12 months ago.

It led me to wonder how much sport-specific rehabilitation she had done after the first injury.

When aiming to compete in any sort of activity, whether it be as a novice, a professional or as recreational activity; I urge you to be pro-active and get assessed by a physiotherapist. Making this happen a few months out from the event may prevent an injury and most likely improve performance.

Rachael Butterworth is a physiotherapist at BJC Health. BJC Health provides coordinated, comprehensive, and colocated multidisciplinary care to achieve effective solutions for patients. We call this model of care, Connected Care. Our clinics are located in Parramatta, Chatswood and Brookvale. Contact us.

This blog focuses on musculoskeletal disease, healthcare in general, and our Connected Care philosophy. Read More.

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