Getting professional help for running injuries
There are a number of different health care professionals you can consult about a sports injury. Neil Black explains what they can do for you and who you should see.
Generally things are changing and many GPs are knowledgeable about sporting injuries
Your doctor is your 'primary health care physician' and should always be consulted where practical. Some runners feel their doctor is unsympathetic or uninterested in running injuries. Generally things are changing and many GPs are knowledgeable about sporting injuries. There may be one particular doctor in the practice who has a greater interest or at least your doctor may be able to suggest other healthcare professional you should go and see. If your doctor's advice doesn't help then go back and tell them. Like anyone else, doctors only learn about what does or does not work by being told.
Chartered physiotherapist, osteopath, chiropractor or podiatrist
Depending on their areas of expertise all of these practitioners may be able to diagnose your injury, set up a rehabilitation programme and provide treatment. There can be differences within and between professions but if the practitioner has experience of working with runners then the advice should be sound.
Sports medicine doctor or orthopaedic physician
These are a group of medical doctors who have studied at post graduate level either sports or orthopaedic medicine who should be able to assess and diagnose an injury. They will also be able to provide treatment of various forms according to their specific interests and expertise and be able to suggest what type of practitioner the injured runner should consult for other forms of treatment.
Sports massage therapist
Sports massage therapists can work with athletes on performance enhancement and prevention as well as being involved in the treatment of injury. There are many different training courses for sports massage of varying lengths with differing contents. This has contributed to some possible confusion as to the standards within this profession.
The NSMI in association with the British Olympic Association (BOA) recognises three organisations who provide sports massage courses:
- The London School of Sports Massage
- Sports Performance Services Limited
- The Raworth School of Sports Massage
This does not mean that sports massage therapists who have qualified from other establishments are not as good or as effective - just that their course has not been recognised by the NSMI or the BOA.
Sports massage therapists can work with athletes on performance enhancement and prevention as well as treatment of injury
There are an increasing number of practitioners who have studied and qualified as sports therapists from a number of different establishments. The training may vary between practitioners and therefore the knowledge, abilities and skills may be variable. This does not mean that these practitioners should not be consulted, just that their training may not have been standardised at this time.
There are a lot of other practitioners available for consultation who provide diagnostic and treatment options. It is impossible to list and try to explain about them all. This does not mean that what they do is not good, just that compared to the practitioners mentioned above, there is less information about direct links between successful treatment of sports injuries by other practitioners.