Shadowing a DoctorJuly 9, 2016
Wimbledon is the ultimate excuse for watching TV without guilt, sipping on a glass of Pimm’s and wearing a straw hat in public (okay, maybe not that last one) – but the reality for tennis coaches, dieticians and physiotherapists is that these two weeks are the hardest in many players’ careers.
Physiotherapists play a very important role in keeping pro tennis players at the top of their game. Even someone who enjoys the sport a few times a week, or is a member of a local club, runs the risk of getting a number of injuries including wrist and ankle sprains, rotator cuff injuries or pain/inflammation of the lower back. Most of the upper body conditions are caused by overuse (tennis is a fairly repetitive sport) and the knee and ankle joints can become strained because of constant twisting, turning and slamming of the feet on the court.
Tennis stars and their physios
Venus and Serena Williams are both taken care of by the same physiotherapist, Esther Lee. Lee met Venus when she treated her at the Joubert Physical Therapy clinic in Beverly Hills – she then became the full-time travelling physio for both sisters, and now comes with them to all of their matches, monitoring them for injuries and making sure they are adequately warmed up. She has a Doctorate of Physical Therapy from Chapman College in Southern California.
Andy Murray’s physiotherapist is kiwi Mark Bender, who also worked with Tim Henman. Murray had back surgery in September 2013 and following a very short spell of bad tennis he is now looking back on form and ready to lift the Wimbledon trophy once more (we can dream, right?). Bender has owned several successful physical therapy clinics throughout his life and now works full time in London with a number of famous sportspeople.
Novak Djokovic has an extremely dedicated coach called Miljan Amanovic, who has been with him since 2007. Amanovic uses a number of different techniques including “sports massage, lymphatic drainage [and] acupressure” and it seems to be working – Djokovic has not lost a match on British soil since the 2013 Wimbledon final. Amanovic also used to work with famous basketball star Vladimir Radmanović.
Want to join them?
You’ll be pleased to hear that becoming a physiotherapist is much easier than winning Wimbledon – in fact, it’s an extremely popular allied health career open to a wide range of people (and you don’t have to have a medical degree).
To qualify as a physiotherapist you will need to complete a BSc in Physiotherapy (or an MSc if you already have a relevant degree). To access these courses you will need A-Level Biology and/or PE or a similar qualification from college, such as a BTEC or NVQ.
After qualifying you will register with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).
Is physiotherapy right for me?
To become a sports physiotherapist it goes without saying you’ll need a serious passion for the sport you want to specialise in. Certainly in tennis, many pro players’ teams are made up of those who have either played professionally or semi-professionally themselves or had associations with the sport for a long time. However, that doesn’t mean you won’t be a fantastic physiotherapist without this experience – you may love working with local grassroots teams or school sides. Your techniques may suit a paralympic athlete even if you have never played their sport.
At the same time, there are plenty of other specialisms within physiotherapy. You could be working in a private clinic, a hospital, or visiting patients’ homes to treat a range of illnesses – everything from MS to strokes to broken bones. Recovery, mobility and success are just as important in everyday life as they are on the court.
Gap Medics provides year-round hospital work experience for people aged 16 and over. Our shadowing placements offer a unique insight into the work of doctors, nurses, midwives, and dentists – helping students to focus their career aspirations before embarking upon medical training.