May 16 2022 Strength and Conditioning and Physiotherapy- Andrew's Story

Strength and Conditioning and Physiotherapy- Andrew's Story

HealthRecovery

Strength and Conditioning and Physiotherapy- Andrew's Story

My introduction to strength and conditioning (S&C) began earlier in my career as a physiotherapist. I identified a personal weakness in advanced exercise prescription for athletes. Therefore, I decided to make this weakness a strength. Through exploring S&C further, I began to understand how closely linked S&C training and late-stage rehabilitation is for athletes. For this reason, I decided to take an unconventional route to post-graduate study - a master’s in the S&C field. My research into the role of S&C coaches in athlete rehabilitation helped me understand how beneficial S&C coaches can be in an athlete’s rehabilitation. It has also further solidified my belief that S&C training should be a key component of rehabilitation for anyone with an injury, with or without a coach. Recovery Room physiotherapists practise the use of exercise (and S&C) as medicine, so it has been a perfect fit for me!

What is strength and conditioning?

S&C training aims to develop the physical performance of individuals utilising exercise to do so. Training in S&C has traditionally been thought of as exclusive for athletes trying to develop in their sport. However, as the fitness industry is growing, and more people are beginning to see the benefits of regular exercise in improving their daily life, S&C is becoming a key part of many people’s weekly routines.

S&C is not exclusive to any one group of people. S&C training can include anything that aims to develop mobility, stability, strength, endurance, power, speed and agility to increase performance. For some athletes, their aim may be to develop their sprinting speed, kicking power, endurance in running or get a new PB lift. For others, they may simply want to climb two flights of stairs without getting puffed or load up more than should be humanly possible into their shopping bags (farmer’s carry is a great exercise for this feat!).

S&C coaches generally work with athletes including a wide range of abilities and levels of professionalism (i.e. full time professional to weekend warriors). The National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) of America summarises their role well:

“Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialists are professionals who apply foundational knowledge in a practical setting to assess, motivate, educate, and train athletes for the primary goal of improving sport performance. They conduct general physical and sport-specific testing sessions, design and implement safe and effective strength training and conditioning programs, and provide guidance for athletes in nutrition and injury prevention. Recognizing their area of expertise is separate and distinct from the medical, dietetic, athletic training, and sport coaching fields.” (Triplett et al., 2017)

At Recovery Room, we would encourage anyone looking to excel in their sport asks for help from an S&C coach. For non-athletes looking to develop their overall fitness and health, a personal trainer (PT) can utilise strength and conditioning principles to help them to do this. These professionals can accelerate the process of learning how to exercise efficiently, manage training loads and reduce the risk of injury.

How can S&C help with your rehab?

While you can see the benefits of S&C for performance, you might also have begun to see how S&C training can also be used to return to your previous levels of performance following an injury. As physiotherapists, we aim to use a combination of manual therapy (e.g. massage, mobilisation, manipulation, dry needling…) and exercise therapy (ie strength and conditioning) to rehabilitate you to your previous levels of performance. Initially, we aim to restore the range of motion, stability and strength of the injured tissue. Exercise will aim to restore overall balance, strength, endurance, and reflex control to return full function in all activities of daily living that were lost because of the injury. Following this, we use S&C principles to return full performance in your sport or exercise of choice.

Through collaborating with your coach/trainer, our goal at Recovery Room is to get you back to 100% performance efficiently and continue to progress from there. As physiotherapists, we are aware that those with the best expertise in performance training and personal training are S&C coaches and personal trainers. For this reason, we aim to communicate with your coach/trainer about your rehabilitation (with your consent of course). This means that you can continue training in some way whilst rehabilitating and when you are ready, the transition from rehabilitation to training is smoother, with less risk of reinjury.

The transition from physiotherapy to your S&C coach or trainer may look something like this:

                                                                                                            (Armstrong et al., 2021)

However, this may vary dependent on the relative skillsets of the physiotherapist or coach. Ideally, we aim to communicate well and use our individual skill sets to optimise quality rehabilitation.

My research concluded that a key reason this doesn’t always happen is a lack of communication between physiotherapists, coaches, and the individual. Therefore, if you have a coach or personal trainer and would like this type of rehabilitation pathway, please provide us with their contact information. If you do not have a coach or trainer, we are more than happy to put you in touch with a trainer to suit your goals and even have some coaches and trainers that work out of our clinic!

 

References

 Armstrong, A. S. L., Ramsey, C. A., & Body, S. (2021). The perceived role of the strength and conditioning coach in athlete rehabilitation. New Zealand Journal of Physiotherapy, 49(2), 89–98. https://doi.org/10.15619/NZJP/49.2.05

Triplett, N. T., Brown, V., Caulfield, S., Doscher, M., McHenry, P., Statler, T., Wainwright, R., Alejo, B., Gearity, B., Jost, J., Murray, T., Nitka, M., Rubley, M., Williams, C., Plisk, S., Brass, M., Eickhoff-Shemek, J. A., Epley, B., Herbert, D., … Wathen, D. (2017). NSCA strength and conditioning professional standards and guidelines. Strength and Conditioning Journal, 39(6), 1–24. https://doi.org/10.1519/SSC.0000000000000348

 

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