How Medicine and Psychology Have Changed Sports this Century

March 29

Advancements in science have undoubtedly revolutionized numerous aspects of the sport, particularly with regards to medicine and psychology.

The treatment of injuries is now far more sophisticated, with athletes receiving levels of care that their historical counterparts could only dream about.

Knowledge of the importance of psychology in sport has also exploded, providing participants with a greater understanding of how their state of mind can impact performance.

Read on as we take a closer look at some of the ways that sports medicine and psychology have changed the landscape in sports this century.

Understanding Sports Medicine

In simple terms, sports medicine encompasses physical fitness, conditioning, injury prevention, and the treatment of injuries caused by physical movement.

Numerous scientific disciplines make up the sector, each of which contributes to treating physical problems or working with athletes on their mindset.

With regards to sports injuries, athletes suffer two main types of conditions that require treatment – acute and chronic.

Acute conditions can be strains, sprains, and fractures, while issues such as arthritis and tendonitis fall into the chronic category.

An Emphasis on Early Prevention

One of the main ways that medicine has changed sport since the turn of the century is in the prevalence of early prevention of physical issues.

Researchers across the world have conducted in-depth studies into biomechanics, to gain a greater understanding of athletic movements.

The way an athlete moves can either increase or decrease their chance of injury, and programs can be developed to help them make adjustments to minimize future risk.

Training athletes to run, jump and turn in a different way not only prevents injuries but also has the potential to boost an athlete’s career longevity.

Virtual Care on the Rise

The practice of early prevention of injuries has been helped in no small part by improvements in technology, providing athletes with much easier access to medical professionals.

That point is demonstrated perfectly by the rise of online care services that use the latest medical tech to offer virtual injury & illness assessments, diagnosis, and prevention services.

These are used to identify underlying issues by conducting virtual gait analysis before recommendations are made regarding future training.

These types of services improve an athlete’s chances of avoiding future issues and boost their hopes of making a full recovery if they have been unfortunate enough to suffer an injury.

Surgery in the 21st Century

Injuries are an occupational hazard where the sport is concerned, although the majority can be treated without the need for surgery.

Broadly speaking, around 10 percent of sports injuries require surgical treatment, with the majority of these being minimally invasive.

Modern arthroscopic surgery is performed through a tiny incision, which means significantly reduced recovery times for athletes.

Improvements in this area mean that injuries such as rupturing an anterior cruciate ligament or Achilles tendon often don’t result at the end of an athlete’s career.

Orthobiologics the Next Big Thing?

Stem cell therapies have been attracting increased attention for orthopedic injuries and soft-tissue strains, and many experts believe they will become commonplace over the next few years.

The term ‘orthobiologics’ is wide-reaching but generally refers to the use of biological substances to expedite the healing of musculoskeletal injuries.

These substances are generated naturally by the body and can improve the treatment for injured muscles, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, and bone fractures.

In addition to healing injuries more quickly, this type of treatment has been shown to improve the quality of healing by generating more robust tissue.

Understanding Sports Psychology

Although sports psychology can be traced back to Ancient Greece, it wasn’t until the 1900s that it started to be taken seriously in sport.

Sports psychology is a discipline that specializes in the mental and emotional strains of intense competition and has been proven to make a massive difference to athletic performance.

Experts in the field can help athletes deal with ‘real-life’ issues, helping to ensure they remain capable of performing to the best of their ability.

Sports psychology is also effective to support the treatment of injuries, with elements such as stress management and psychotherapy helping athletes overcome their fears of returning to action.

Sports Psychology in Action

Professor Steve Peters’ work across numerous disciplines over the past couple of decades highlights how effective sports psychology can be.

He came to prominence for his efforts with the British Cycling team, helping the likes of Victoria Pendleton and Sir Chris Hoy rule the world.

Peters also worked extensively with snooker star Ronnie O’Sullivan, providing him with the mental tools to remain at the top of his profession.

He has also worked in football with Liverpool and England, further highlighting how sports psychology can be used effectively across the sporting spectrum.


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