What is sports physical therapy?
As an athlete throughout middle school and high school my springs and summers were spent at baseball parks around Texas, while my winters were spent playing football and basketball. One of the most important activities a child can participate in is organized sport as it develops qualities of physical strength and coordination, and more importantly, internal qualities of good sportsmanship, fair play, and how to work with a team. Unfortunately, like a lot of junior high and high school athletes, I was unable to play baseball for a period of time due to a shoulder injury. However, I was lucky enough to find a good sports physical therapist (PT) at the time who helped me get back on the field in better shape than before the injury.
When I went in for my first physical therapy appointment in high school I had no idea what to expect since I had never been injured. The first appointment was an evaluation where the sports PT looked at my posture, flexibility, range of motion and strength to determine what lead to my injury. This process was eye-opening because it taught me what I needed to work on to get healthy and back to playing baseball. My sports PT stretched out my shoulder to address the tightness that lead to my injury and gave me a home exercise program I needed to perform, along with coming in twice a week to work with the PT in the clinic.
Every visit I felt my shoulder getting back to normal and after four weeks of working with the sports PT I started a throwing program and got my throwing technique analyzed. For the next two weeks, I worked with the sports PT to correct my throwing motion and continue to strengthen and stretch my shoulder to prepare me to return to playing baseball.
After playing first base for a few games, I got back to playing short-stop and then finally returned to pitching once my shoulder was ready. This process would not have been possible without the expertise of a sports PT, which is what inspired me to pursue becoming a sports PT myself. Sports physical therapists go to school for four years for an undergraduate degree and then three additional years of a doctoral program to earn a Doctorate of Physical Therapy degree. After this process, some PTs go through a sports residency program and take a specialty board exam to become a sports specialists.
Texas Children’s Hospital has a team of physical therapists dedicated to helping young athletes return to the field even better than when they entered the sports PT clinic. Sports PTs are specifically trained to treat athletes so they can return to a high level of functioning. Our goal is to help athletes move better and perform at their highest capability so they can continue to enjoy playing sports!