...an Academy Physiotherapist at F.C. Copenhagen, with Head of Academy Physiotherapy, Kevin Kofi Rasmussen.
Our series of Sport Torq blogs kicks of in 2023 with a colleague of ours, Kevin Kofi Rasmussen, Head of Academy Physiotherapy at F.C Copenhagen. We asked him to provide us with a snapshot of a typical day working in an elite football performance department...
...Since only the U19 team in F.C Copenhagen has daily morning training sessions, the morning usually allows for some calm before everything kicks off. My day starts with reading through the rehabilitation programs I made the day before, checking individual load plans for any pitch session and/or progressions needed for the players that have just returned to training or are involved in pitch-based rehabilitation. Before all the players arrive, the daily wellness scores are reviewed to get some insight before I do the daily rounds to check up on how the squad is feeling and any if there have been any unexpected reactions from the rehabilitating players.
I walk to the coach’s office and discuss availability for today’s training session and any individual considerations needing to be made for players with problems, that be general load, decreased capacity for speed exposure etc. These changes are then discussed and applied through a discussion with mainly the S&C coach. After this I head back to the physio room to provide follow-up assessments, treatment, tape needed by the players before they head of to the next team activity. Half an hour before training starts I and the S&C coach meets in the gym to setup for the daily pre-activation session, which is either individual programs based on the preseason screening, team-based program by the S&C or a fun activity such as spike ball.
When training starts the rehabilitation session also begins. I enjoy using all the tools available to me such as the antigravity treadmill, blood flow restriction equipment etc. However, I believe keeping things simple and understanding that every tool has a specific purpose and time to be used during various rehabilitation cases, is important. After the rehabilitation session is done, I check up on all players after training and deliver any relevant feedback to the coaches. Then we go on to have various meetings depending on the day. These are the key elements of the everyday work. A lot of work goes on besides this, however, such as;
· Creating rehabilitation plans
· Consultations with the team doctor
· Physiotherapist team development
Working in the talent department I believe it is of utmost importance that we consider our role in the team around these future athletes. Young athletes can be very gullible and therefore it is important that we address every instance of misinformation especially regarding potential catastrophising beliefs such as “My spine is out of alignment and therefore I will get back pain”, “My neck bones need to be set in place every month or it will cause injury further down the chain”. These beliefs can cause athletes to become treatment dependent which can lead to problems in terms of performance and health, when said treatment doesn’t help or cannot be given due to e.g. moving to a new team or travelling.
As practitioners we have our role to play in talent development besides that of injury treatment. This is through education on load management, energy intake demands, importance of sleep and other factors associated with recovery and general health. At F.C Copenhagen this is done through what we call 'performance groups', where we gather groups of five to eight players and focus on these subjects through meetings two times per week.
Besides health and recovery guidance as practitioners we have a large role to play in the observation of mental wellbeing and social interactions. The physio room can often be a place where players gather to talk about everyday life. These interactions can prove as vital information for the mental coach and provide possibilities to encourage social participation from outsiders.
The most important thing working as a sports physiotherapist within team sports is communication. Good communication skills are highly valuable, and they can help ensure informed shared decision making which is paramount in high performance environments.
Keven Kofi Rasmussen Head of Academy Physiotherapy, F.C Copenhagen.
January 2023 for Journal of Elite Sport Performance / Sport Torq Blog Series