Congratulations to Mississauga native Bianca Andreescu on her win over Serena Williams to win the US Open! It was so exciting to watch from Oakville, Ontario neighbour to her hometown of Mississauga. we love how the hashtag #SheTheNorth has been trending.
It has been interesting over the past season from a Physiotherapists perspective to watch her compete and progress. We know that injury recovery as well as athletic progression, especially in elite sports, is not a straight light. Andreescu is case and point.
There have been some interesting topics addressed as her popularity increases that we can all learn from.
Bianca has been meditating and doing yoga since the age of 12. She goes into detail in an interview in WTA Tennis. To have built in mental fortitude when training, competitions, and life get tough is priceless. Just like strength training for the body, when you stop these habits, you lose some of the strength they provide. Mindful meditation and yoga can be started at any age. They can benefit everyone. Our Oakville Physiotherapists recommend some techniques for our patients for a variety of concerns, so it’s amazing so see an elite athlete discussing there benefits.
While Andreescu uses visual mental imagery of the goals she wants to manifest, there are many techniques. It’s important to try different things to see what works and perhaps retry in the future. For certain pain conditions a guided meditation may be helpful or a focus on breath.
Andreescu comments that she uses positive self-talk. Maintaining a dialogue with ourselves that is positive in nature can be difficult initially. It may take time and work to make it a habit.
For someone recovering from an injury or who has a painful condition they may feel frustration and start identifying with their circumstance. Having an ongoing positive dialogue that you are strong and that you are resilient is important to get through the recovery process or for living with a different set of circumstances.
After experiencing some injuries, Andreescu now travels with a Physiotherapist. This is according to Sporting News. Having someone help her recover well as well as prevent injuries / overuse issues in training will help an elite athlete through their season.
Unfortunately, not everyone has the means to have a personal physiotherapist. Working with a Physiotherapist from an outpatient clinic is the next best thing. This shouldn’t be a person that simply hooks you up to machines and leaves. Your Physio should understand what your goals are and work with you within your means to empower you. They may provide hands on manual therapy such as soft tissue work, stretching and joint mobilizations, but the best thing your Physio can provide to you is education and exercises.
As Physiotherapists we understand that the sports season doesn’t wait for you to heal, neither does a tournament. Take for example the Rogers cup where Andreescu continued with a groin strain (read more in the Red Deer News). In the moment the Physio staff would wrap her with a tensor to support the area, and in the longer term provide treatment as mentioned above.
If you check in to her matches early you may catch a glimpse of her warm-up. As a Physiotherapist an dynamic warm-up is so fun to watch, especially one that is well put together. It’s unlikely you’ll see these elite athletes standing and doing the static stretches of years gone by in their warm-ups. This is because there is currently not much evidence to support it’s benefits for performance.
A dynamic warm-up will take the body and its joints through the necessary range of motion. This increases synovial fluid to the joints, and blood flow to the muscles. It also helps wake up the brain and natural pathways to muscles for performance. All of those drills athletes do in their training equate to motor memory. How else can throw their racket out to return a monster serve?
Whether you are a “weekend warrior” or an elite level athlete, having a proper warm-up is vital. Preparing for a few weeks for the task is also helpful in preventing injury. You cannot expect your body to perform in explosive ways for one (plus) hours when it hasn’t worked its way up to the challenge. Your Physiotherapist can help provide you with reasonable suggestions for help beginning an activity so you can stay in the game, whatever the sport / activity.