Industry Insider: Our Interview with a Sports Therapist

Here’s our first discussion for our industry experts series, talking all things sport, fitness and recovery with those within the industry. This weeks chat was with Willum Ogden BSc MSc, Sports Therapist.

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Willum Ogden BSc MSc

How long have you been in the sport industry?

I’ve worked in professional sport and Fitness since 2014 where I first worked voluntarily for Wigan Warriors Rugby Club providing post match recovery massages as well as working as a student Sports Therapist with Everton Football Club primarily within the women’s team. So about 7 years give or take a few months.

Those are some big club names. Could you summarise the type of work you’ve done and the roles you’ve had?

Most of my work as a Sports Therapist has been in Women’s Professional Football. I’ve worked within Everton Women’s Football Club working alongside the other medical staff and coaches to assist with player development, rehabilitation and recovery. I’ve also provided pitch side medical assistance for what’s called their RTC (Regional Talent Club) working with their academy prospects, as well as assisting their first team who played in the Women’s Super League 2 and now the Women’s Super league. In addition to that I volunteered with a local Liverpool club called Liverpool Feds whilst studying for my Masters in Sports Medicine. My research for that masters was a scoping review on injury prevention models in women’s football. I’ve worked in a range of private injury clinics as well as working with my own cohort of clients on a semi regular basis.

What have been some of the major developments/changes you’ve noticed in the industry since you started?

I think that there has been some big development in the recovery modalities and methods that are offered and used throughout all levels of sport. There’s more of a structured programme and a wider approach to training and recovery now with things such as yoga, mobility sessions, cryotherapy, hydrotherapy, massage and percussion therapy all becoming massive within the industry. It’s great people are seeing what an important part recovery plays in their overall fitness journey.

Within sport itself, there has been huge progression of women’s football, which has been phenomenal and well deserved. Having worked with a professional football club I have seen professional players carry out full time jobs, training 2/3 times a week and then playing matches on a weekend. The biggest transition was a lot of Women’s clubs going full time where possible. I think there is going to be a continuous progression and development in women’s sport and it’s been a pleasure to work in.

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The Flow PRO in action

Do you think there’s been an increase or decrease in injuries due to all the lockdowns/restrictions?

I can see why there may be an increase in injuries in professional sport due to players not being in their usual rhythm. People often forget that although they are professional athletes they are humans too and they need to have some sort of structure. For most professional sports this last year that structure has well and truly gone out of the window, which is why a lot of the athletes and clubs I know of are probably doing more of a maintenance/pre-habilitative approach to their training right now, rather than doing the ‘typical pre-season’ they would do to rebuild their fitness after a break. They’ve essentially been consistently training/ preparing for 2 seasons now, and that takes its toll on the body.

While I haven’t personally seen an increase in injuries in the general population I would imagine that people going from their ideal office set up with the correct kit to now working from home on their sofa with no support, they will certainly develop those little niggles predominately caused by limited movement.

What part do percussive massage devices play in the treatment you offer/prescribe?

A massive part personally. I work with a small portion of clients offering bespoke and direct rehab for their injuries or just their generic training. I utilise percussion therapy in two ways — 1. to help them loosen up, promote blood flow and prepare for exercise. And 2 if I have done a hands on session where I have gone really heavy with soft tissue manipulation I will use the Flow to help get good blood flow to the area and help promote the lymphatic drainage I’m after to help their recovery.

Any tips for getting the most out of your percussion massage device?

Mainly avoid bony areas on your body, the application is pretty straight forward. It can be used before a workout as a warm-up, afterwards as a cool-down and any time to help with recovery. But to truly get the most out of it I would recommend getting in touch with a therapist or use the resources Flow provides to help your understanding of how we can use this tool optimally.

Any warnings for anyone using one of these devices?

Mainly avoid bony areas, bruises and areas of injury. Typically they’re designed to help promote blood flow and reduce tension within a muscle which is perfect and if used correctly can be a useful asset to your everyday activity. But if you decide to use it over a bruise for example you will actually cause more damage to the area than good. As always if you’re unsure consult a therapist.

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