Kate Evans

Job title Senior lecturer in sports therapy

Employer University of Wales Trinity Saint David

A weekend in the life of a sports therapist

Kate Evans is a senior lecturer in sports therapy who used to work in professional and semi-professional rugby union. She used to work with a professional rugby team who compete in the Rabo Direct Pro 12 league, Amlin Cup and LV Cup. Here she explains about her previous role… and explains what a typical competitive weekend involves.

What is the role of the sports therapist?

Sports therapy is a career that focuses on the sports injury management of athletes. This may be a clinic-based role, or a role with a sports team. Sports therapists are highly trained in the diagnosis, treatment and sports-specific rehabilitation of all musculoskeletal injuries that occur in sport. The Graduate Sports Therapist has a large role to play in medical screening and injury prevention. A Graduate Sports Therapist also has a solid understanding of sports sciences including exercise physiology and sports biomechanics and we are trained in pitchside first aid/sports trauma management, taping and strapping and manual therapy which includes sports massage, joint mobilisations and also electrotherapy.

How do you train to become a sports therapist?

A sports therapist is someone who has studied a BSc (Hons) or MSc sports therapy degree from an accredited university. In addition to my work in professional rugby union, I also work as a senior lecturer at the University of Gloucestershire, teaching on both the undergraduate and postgraduate sports therapy courses which are accredited by the Society of Sports Therapists (SST). All students who complete the degree here are eligible for full membership to the SST and can call themselves a graduate sports therapist. It is a tough programme of study as you have to learn so much in just three years you will be seeing your own patients, diagnosing and treating their injuries so we have to make sure you know your stuff!

“A weekend in the life of a sports therapist... Thursday”

We are heading in to our last game of a busy season. We are playing Edinburgh away in Murrayfield in a Rabo Direct Pro 12 league game. We usually fly to our away fixtures as we play teams in Ireland, Scotland and Italy in the League and also France in our European Cup Competition. To save time, all of our kit including our medical equipment travels ahead so it is ready for when we arrive. Before we head to the airport I'll see our injured players who are not travelling. They are seen the morning before we fly, for treatment and rehabilitation and so I'll arrive to the club about 9am. Once these players have been seen I'll have an hour or so to complete my treatment notes before the playing squad arrive for their Team Run. Before the Team Run, players will receive any treatment they need and get any taping or strapping done ready for the 3.30pm start. The team will practice any set piece plays or moves to make sure they are perfect and practice any strategies for tomorrow night's game. During the Team Run, the medical team including myself will be Pitchside in case of any injuries or accidents. After the Team Run we have a Team Meal before departing to the airport for the 9.15pm flight to Edinburgh. We arrive safe and sound in our Team Hotel at approximately 11pm and the players have food laid on for them once they arrive. We have a short treatment session (about an hour) for any players that have stiffened up after travelling but usually the team just eat and sleep!

“Friday – game day”

Breakfast is available for players from 8am until 9.30am. During breakfast players can sign up for their treatment slots during the day. All players have their hydration levels measured by the Strength and Conditioning Team between 10 and 11am. At 11am players have a Stretching and Mobility Session and the Forwards will have a ˜Walk Through" of their set-piece plays for tonight's game. Again, we have to be standing by in case there is an injury! A couple of players come in for treatment after the session and Lunch is scheduled for 12pm. After lunch, the treatment list gets busy and we do a lot of maintenance work on players carrying "niggles" or who have had a previous injury to make sure that we keep on top of it! We have our Pre-Match Meal at 3.30pm and though most players try to get a nap in before the game, some prefer to be treated after food. At 5.15pm we start to tape and strap players for the game. Some players like to wear Kinesio Tape for games and this works well if it is applied early rather than just before kick-off. We then quickly put away our treatment beds and taping and head to Team Bus whilst the players and coaches have their Pre-match Meeting at 5.50pm. After the meeting, we are straight on the bus and arrive at Murrayfield at 6.15pm. We quickly set up our treatment area (just by the showers!) and start to tape and strap players ready for the game everything from feet and ankles up to shoulders and thumbs! During the warm-up we check all of our Sports Trauma equipment from the Defibrillator. During the game one of our players is injured we suspect a fractured wrist and he is substituted. During half time, we assess him again with our Team Doctor and decide to put him in a temporary Plaster-of-Paris Cast so we can fly him straight home tomorrow to be assessed locally better than leave a player behind in Scotland! We lose the game 31-24 and it's sad as this is last game for a number of players who are leaving the c!lub. We arrive back to the hotel at 11.30pm and reassess any players who have picked up any bumps or knocks during the game.

“Saturday ”

Up very early for a 6am breakfast so we can check in for 7am. Our flight leaves and we arrive back to the club at approximately 11am. We recheck any players with injuries from the game again and we make arrangements for scans/X-rays/Orthopaedic Surgeons appointments etc ready for them to be done ASAP. The player with a suspected fractured wrist is taken for X-ray and is operated on a few days later. I will be responsible for his treatment and rehabilitation until he is fully fit.

“For more information on Sports Therapy, please visit the Society of Sports Therapists www.society-of-sports-therapists.org”