What is Sports Medicine?

Sports (or physical sports) is any forms of generally competitive physical activity that, through organised or casual competition, aim to employ, develop or maintain physical prowess and/or skill while giving satisfaction to participants, and sometimes, spectators, who take part in such sports. In most sports, rules determine the nature of competitions, and how they are to be adjudicated. Some sports are governed by governing bodies while others are run for profit and/or prestige. Professional sports are increasingly becoming a popular form of physical activity because of their high-profile exposure and televised viewing.


There are various different kinds of sports. These include athletic events (including soccer, tennis, basketball, track & field and wrestling), motor sports (often known as motorway racing, motorbike racing, horse racing, swimming, canoeing and sailing), non-sport physical activities including fitness programs, aerobics classes, yoga and Pilates. Most activities can be inter-related and may include multiple components, such as cycling, rowing and swimming. Sports also often involve physical contact with objects (such as football players running towards a ball and trying to kick it out), or using hand-held tools (such as weightlifting). A sport can also have psychological elements to it and be based entirely on strategy, competition, imitation and camaraderie and/or a mixture of these elements.

With the right medical assistance, sportsmen and sportswomen can increase their performance and enhance their health. Common injuries from sports include tendinitis, bruising, strains, muscle sprains, strains and ankle sprains. Other injuries may include tennis elbow, pulled muscle and bursitis. A sports medicine specialist can advise on the management of these injuries and ensure the player is fit to engage in the sport again in the shortest period possible.

After receiving initial treatment, most sports injuries can usually be treated by using anti-inflammatory drugs, cortisone injections, physical therapy, physiotherapy and rest. Physical therapy assists in reducing pain and stiffness. This is achieved by undertaking exercises and stretches that help to return the injured part to its previous state of flexibility and strength. Other types of exercise, such as swimming and resistance training, are also recommended for sportsmen and sportswomen who require rehabilitation and recovery time.

Physiotherapy assists in restoring movement to an injured area after an injury has been sustained, reducing the amount of restriction caused by the injury. This involves utilising electric and hydraulic pressure equipment, ultrasound, laser and electric stimulation machines. Heat therapy can also be used by a sports medicine healthcare provider in conjunction with other modalities, such as physiotherapy, to treat conditions such as swelling and pain. Heat therapy can be very useful following surgery, as it can promote rapid healing and improve the flexibility of the muscles and tissues.

While most sports injuries can be treated with the assistance of a sports medicine healthcare provider, more severe injuries may require surgery or reconstructive surgery. Surgical procedures are usually only carried out if the injury is life-threatening or if the patient cannot use muscles or trunk to get around. A sports medicine healthcare provider will be capable of diagnosing and treating most sports injuries. It is important that all sportspeople consult a specialist in the field of sports medicine when there has been an injury or at risk of another sports-related problem.