Sports therapists assist people and athletes in preparing physically and mentally for competitions and personal physical activities. They are experts in how to avoid injury, as well as rehabilitation and appropriate treatments, if and when their client is injured.
There are a range of courses on offer – ranging from non-graduate, undergraduate and graduate level entry. These courses can be accessed from a number of institutions and colleges around the country – including The Institute of Massage and Sports Therapy (IMST), Portobello and Motions Fitness, to name a few.
Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation is concerned with musculoskeletal conditions arising from sports activity. Therefore course content will reflect this. Course content will include everything from first aid, anatomy, physiology, massage, sports massage, sports nutrition, kinesiology to physiotherapy theory and physiotherapy practice.
Lets look at some of the courses on offer:
IMST offer a part-time evening Diploma course in Sports Injury Therapy. This is a comprehensive course which covers all aspects of sports injury treatment, prevention, rehabilitation and assessment. Applicants to this course should hold a holistic massage qualification prior to entry. A number of subjects are covered in detail, including: detailed anatomical study of all muscles, origin, insertion and action along with joints, causes and prevention of sports injuries and injury assessment techniques – including differentiation in detection between muscles, tendon, ligament and joint injuries.
Portobello Institute run a BSc (Hons) in Sports Therapy course. Knowledge and understanding of Sports Therapy is developed through classes, tutorials, seminars and laboratory based practical sessions, and through the guided use of student-centred learning activities such as problem solving exercises, case studies, directed reading and e-learning. Year 1 provides a solid foundation of general subjects underpinning Sports Therapy including anatomy, human physiology and sports science. In-depth studies of the Sports Therapy examination and assessment protocol and rehabilitation are the focus of Year 2 and during Year 3 the emphasis is placed on advanced and applied aspects of Sports Therapy including manual therapy, electrotherapy, work placement, related theory, clinical reasoning skills and business developments in sport.
NTC (National Training Centre run the National Qualification in Neuromuscular Therapy, this is a part-time programme which qualifies students to offer soft tissue manipulation techniques and therapeutic interventions in the treatment of acute and chronic pain problems. This programme is delivered at several locations throughout the country on a weekend basis.
Dunboyne College in Meath run a QQI level 5 one-year course which equips students with the knowledge and skills required for working within the area of sports injury prevention and sports massage therapy in sports, coaching, recreation and leisure industries. Students will also develop understanding of the physiological principles related to sports massage and injury prevention.
There are a number of career options open to you once you qualify as a Sports Therapist. There is the option of setting up your own practice, work for a sports injuries clinic, work in a gym or with sports teams. If this is an area of therapy that interests you, it is worth having a look at the daily duties and activities of a Sports Therapist before investing in a sports therapy course.
A sports therapist may be involved in any or all of the following activities:
- Conducting an assessment of a players’ or athletes’ readiness and advising on exercises prior to an event or fixture
- Testing joints for ease and range of movement
- Strapping, taping, massaging and preparing players or athletes physically and mentally
- Providing first aid
- Examining and assessing injuries and determining whether the athlete can continue playing or taking part
- Examining and assessing injuries and dealing with traumas, e.g. cuts, bruises and blisters
- Treating injuries, alleviating pain, mobilising injuries, giving various types of sports massage and manipulation
- Rehabilitating injuries using manipulative techniques, apparatus and electrotherapy
- Designing and monitoring rehabilitation programmes appropriate to the injury and the sport
- Deciding whether athletes or players need extra treatments and coordinating referrals to other practitioners
- Advising players or athletes on diet and nutrition (when therapists are appropriately trained in this area)
- Working alone or with coaches, trainers and/or fitness advisers to implement exercise, conditioning, core stability and injury prevention programmes, so that athletes reach and maintain peak performance
- Liaising with other health professionals in the sports sector and in mainstream medicine
If all of these activities interest you and you think you have both the necessary interest and ability to pursue studies in Sports Therapy – a good starting point to your new career would be to talk to somebody working in the area and research the courses on offer.
Click to view sports therapy courses on Findacourse.ie.