All osteopaths diagnose, treat, manage and seek to prevent muscle, joint, tendon and nerve injuries occurring in sporting activities.
Sports osteopaths often focus on one or two sports and have a broader role in sports skill management, as a key difference. They have detailed knowledge and experience in managing health and performance issues in a sport or sports. They may focus on rehabilitating players, performance issues, or growing physical skills needed for a sport or sports.
Sports osteopaths may work with players with an injury or without an injury, with competitive/elite sports people and patients who play recreationally. They work in sporting clubs, athletic arenas and private practice.
A sports osteopath assesses sporting injury risks, injury impact and sporting performance.
A sports osteopath might review how the body moves and physical skills against demands in a sport. Physical skills are things like muscle strength or muscle length, force, speed/agility, balance and flexibility.
A sports osteopath might also examine for imbalances or weaknesses in the body that could put a player at risk of injury during sporting activity or when performing certain movements.
After a sports injury, a sports osteopath might use clinical tests of the nerves, joints and movement to assess level of the injury and how it could impact sporting abilities.
A sports osteopath develops sporting rehabilitation and performance plans.
In addition to manual therapies, a sports osteopath may use taping, bracing, splinting and other approaches when managing an injury.
For players with or without injury, a sports osteopath might create a program of specific exercises and strategies aimed at improving performance in a sport or role within a sport.
Elite sports people should check that a sports osteopath understands their sport.
Sports osteopaths are part of a network of sports health professionals. They give referrals to and work with sports physicians, general practitioners, exercise physiologists, physiotherapists and other health professionals.
Osteopathy Australia's Clinical Practice Group (CPG) in sports exists to recognise members with further skills in sports injury and sports capability management. Click here to find out more about our CPGs.