Being my first session at Argyle Ladies when I arrived, I was nervous. I have minimal experience with football players and know only little about the sport. I was quite nervous about meeting the players, but not so nervous to meet the supervisor. Upon arrival, the supervisor ran through the general structure of the sessions and of match days and told me what she would ideally like me to commit to. During the training session, she showed me the medical bag to ensure I knew what to get when I buy mine. One player had an injury from the previous game (quad strain). So, it was insightful to listen to the supervisor’s rehabilitation, as they were quite different to what I was used to in basketball. To test my ability, the supervisor immediately asked me for a functional quadricep exercise. To which, I said Bulgarian split squats. Whilst she took my suggestion and the player performed these, afterwards, the supervisor took the player through some of her own functional quadricep exercises. During this, I realised that Bulgarian split squats are not a functional, and I quickly picked up on what sort of exercise I should have offered instead. For a first day, it went very well. The environment was very different to my previous placement, but it was enjoyable and professional. Already I feel as though I have taken a huge step in my personal development, and I am confident that I made a good first impression. The supervisor noted that she liked the amount of questions I asked in order to gain a good insight into what the role of a sports therapist in women’s football entails.
After the training session, I researched some exercises commonly used for lower body strengthening for a variety of different injuries in attempt to broaden my exercise knowledge (Eitzen, Moksnes, Snyder-Mackler, Risberg, 2010; Wilson, Kannan, Kopacko, Vyas, 2019; Hamstra-Wright et al, 2017).
Eitzen, I., Moksnes, H., Snyder-Mackler, L., Risberg, M. (2010). A Progressive 5-Week Exercise therapy Program Leads to Significant Improvement in Knee Function Early After Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injury. Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy, (40)11, 704-721.
Wilson, K W., Kannan, A S., Kopacko, M., Vyas, D. (2019). Rehabilitation and Return to Sport After Hip Arthroscopy. Operative Techniques in Orthopaedics, 1048-6666.
Hamstra-Wright, K., Aydemir, B., Earl-Boehm, J, Bolga, L., Emery, C and Ferber, R. (2017). Lasting Improvement of Patient-Reported Outcomes 6 Months After Patellofemoral Pain Rehabilitation. Journal of Sport Rehabilitation, (26), 223-233.
During this training session, I got to know the players on the 1st team, as the team I was working with yesterday was the development team. At the beginning of this session I asked the supervisor a lot of questions including how to know when to take a player off or to allow them to carry on playing, as I was aware that the protocol for every sport and team is different. Following this, we proceeded to treat the player who had a quad strain but this time through massage, considering she had already done her rehab earlier that day. This is something I had never really considered, however on this placement I am quickly learning that there isn’t many common football injuries that you can’t massage over, you just have to be sure on the pressure and the type of massage you are giving. Subsequent to this, a player who has chronic ankle instability went down on the pitch. The supervisor and I ran on to find that they had yet again sprained their ankle. We took the player off, assessed and iced the ankle. This was my first experience running onto the pitch, even though it was just a training session. From talking to the other sports therapists, it seems in football, sports therapists run on a lot more often than they do in basketball, which is something I am really excited to get more confident in as I feel like this part of my education was limited last year.
Ultimately, I am finding this placement extremely good for my confidence and self-development. I am getting involved in all of the assessments and treatments, with the supervisor allowing me to perform them as I would, with her to watch over me and correct if necessary. I’m finding myself feeling very comfortable at this placement, perhaps due to the fact that they are a women’s team, maybe, I’m feeling less intimidated. However, the progress in knowledge from 2nd year to 3rd year will also be playing a big role in this.
Within this training session I was working with the supervisor to decrease the amount of swelling in the ankle of the player who went to hospital with a grade 2/3 sprain on Sunday during the game. In order to do this, we iced her ankle for 3 minutes and then flushed her ankle with light effleurage for 10 minutes and repeated this 3 times. Following this, we gave her instructions as to attempt to partially weight bear sometimes, in order to try and retain some movement at the ankle joint. Whilst sat down, we instructed her to plantarflex her foot gently 10 times. I have never been involved in such a big injury before, so this was the first time I have applied my knowledge of big injuries to a real life setting. Following this, another player came over complaining of groin pain. The supervisor instructed me to assess the area to see what I thought the issue was, to which I came to the conclusion that it might be a minor groin strain. Before giving treatment, I asked my supervisor to confirm that I was correct, which I was. So, I massaged her groin and quadriceps, and then gave her some groin stretches to do at home.
After the session I reviewed some papers on ankle rehabilitation to get some guidance for the stages of rehabilitation following an ATFL sprain, in order to help me with offering suggestions of progressions throughout the process (Mattacola & Dwyer, 2002).
This placement has given me a huge confidence boost that I’ve really needed. Being trusted to assess a player alone and make decisions displays the supervisor’s confidence in my knowledge as a therapist, which only motivates me to be even better. I’ve always thought that I was someone who responses well to criticism; in that I thought it only motivated me to want to do better. So, I would vocalise this to those teaching me, telling them not to be shy in telling me I’m wrong quite bluntly. However, starting this placement has made me realise that I respond better to enthusiasm and positivity even more so. My desire to learn this year is so much more than it was last year, which I didn’t think was possible. Upon reflection, it seems that last year my desire to learn more wasn’t necessarily for myself, but for my peers to see I am doing well, as opposed to me actually enjoying and loving the process of learning. This is a trait that I had massively in my 1st year of University but was sadly lost in my 2nd year. However, I’m really happy to see this version of myself return.
Mattacola, C, G & Dwyer, M, K. (2002). Rehabilitation of the Ankle After Acute Sprain or Chronic Instability. Journal of Athletic Training, 37 (4), 413-429
This session was my first game with Argyle Ladies. To say I was nervous would be an understatement. We were the sports therapists for the development team’s game, and I had heard from a therapist who did this placement last year that this team goes down on the pitch quite a lot. Usually this would mean that he would have to run onto the pitch at least 3 times a game. Considering this was something I wasn’t used to, it made me quite anxious that I would freeze when it actually came to it. However, at the game, we had a total of 5 players go down injured on the pitch. As there were 3 sports therapists, we took it in turns running on in pairs, and therefore I ended up running on 3 times. Throughout the game, we dealt with 4 ankle injuries and 1 concussion. Three of the ankle injuries were quite minor, and just required icing. However, one girl heard a loud pop, her ankle immediately swelled up and bruised. We immediately carried her off of the pitch and iced her ankle. The pain was becoming increasingly worse, so we decided it was best that she went to A&E to get it checked out. Luckily, her Dad was watching her, so he was able to take her. This was the most important decision I’ve had to make during my time as a sports therapist, but it has been confirmed by the supervisor that it was the right thing to do, as the hospital diagnosed it has a partial, potentially full tear.
Very quickly I became aware that I was a lot more confident then I thought, and my skills and knowledge were definitely up to scratch. I got praise from the other therapists for my initial response to injury skills regarding shock. I feel like I am now back in the flow of my role, and I will be a lot more confident throughout the rest of the season.
In this session, I was working with a who had almost recovered from her quad strain, but then over did it upon her return to training and tore it even more. I was given a list of exercises to go through with the player and asked to assess her progress. The player was very reluctant to go through the exercises, and just wanted to play. But I managed to get her on board by explaining that the reason she is back in this position she is, is because of the fact she over did it.
When going through the exercises, we didn’t manage to finish the cardio at the very end of the work out, due to her pain becoming too much. This clarified that I made the right decision in not allowing her to train. So, instead of the cardio I went through some stretching and core work with her, performing all of the exercises and stretches with her to keep her motivated.
This session truly tested my athlete psychology, something that I have had a lot of practise in but am out of practise with. However, I feel as though I did a good job, considering she completed the entire work out with a smile on her face, and eventually stopped asking to play.
These hours took place at a training session. During this session, I had to assist in coaching a player through their exercises of their rehabilitation program for an adductor strain. Due to the fact I have an adductor strain myself and have been rehabbing it, I found this task quite easy. We are not that far into the module looking into rehabilitation exercises, so I found it quite lucky that I had experience with this injury. Whilst I had completed the exercises I was coaching many times before, I found that I struggled to find the right words and phrases to use when describing how to complete the exercise. I found it easier to demonstrate the exercises, and then to subsequently give corrections if their technique was slightly off, rather than being able to give the coaching points at the beginning of the exercise. This is something I am definitely going to work on as I think its important in terms of professionalism as well as for injury prevention.
Following the session, I was advised to look up the Aspetar program in order to advice the player on more agility based exercises in their next rehabilitation program with us. The paper made me realise that adductor injuries require a lot more agility based rehabilitation then I would have ever thought. I found this paper extremely useful as the exercises are very transferrable to other lower body injures, particularly in the late stages of rehabilitation.