Last summer I put my back out whilst attempting what is known as a 'scorpion kick' and had to have physiotherapy sessions as a result. That's how I met the Spanish physiotherapist Daniel Marti.
Daniel has worked as a consultant physiotherapist for Tottenham Hotspur since 2011 where he works on injury prevention, prediction and rehabilitation with the first team. More recently, he has worked on individual rehabilitation at West Ham United. Daniel has also worked with Spanish sides such as RCD Espanyol and Tenerife FC.
Technology is becoming the biggest part of injury prediction, prevention and rehabilitation in professional sports, including football. Daniel uses a wide variety of techniques and machines to maximise the effectiveness of physiotherapy.
For injury prediction and prevention Daniel does clinical tests using different machines like RTUs (real time ultrasound) or elastography. For rehab he use he most advanced rehabilitation equipment. The isoinertial device is a prime example. These devices are the best machines for improving the muscle force. The other device Daniel uses for rehab is EPI. EPI is Intratissue Percutaneous Electrolysis, which is a technique to regenerate injured tissue like muscle tissue or tendon tissue. It is a very new technique which is being considered the most effective for rehabilitation. The combination of the aforementioned devices is speeding up the recovery process in every single injury type.
Daniel kindly agreed to do a short interview with me about injury prediction, prevention and rehabilitation in England compared to other countries and the technologies used...
What difference, if any, is there in the approach to injury prevention and rehabilitation in England to Spain? Does the tempo, style of football and climate have a role to play?
In my opinion, the main difference between the Premier league and La Liga is the way the physios and sports scientists understand the rehabilitation process. There are 3 main targets on that process the physios and sports scientists should address. Coordination, strength and proprioception. In Spain the physios and sport scientists apply the coordination, the strength and the propioception in every single aspect of the player game. This makes the player faster, stronger and more precise, and in the end is the best way to prevent an injury.
On that note, do you think any countries or clubs are more advanced than others in terms of physiotherapy and injury prevention and rehabilitation?
Setting up a rehabilitation and injury prevention gym is not expensive. I really believe the stuff is what makes the difference.
There's a lot of debate about the lack of a winter break in English football. Arsène Wenger has previously suggested it should be implemented. Would you be in favour of a winter break in England? And why/why not?
I love the way it is. It makes coaches and medical services a very important part on the competition. We have to plan every detail of the training in order to avoid under/overloading the players. It would be nice to see what would happened if the clubs would have training restrictions, like in the NFL, to make it even more interesting and fair.
Arsenal have topped the 'injury league table' for several years prior to this one. Surely it can't just be bad luck... In your professional opinion, what factors could've played a part in such a pattern of injuries?
I don't think is just bad luck. However, I don't know in detail what they do. I have seen the facilities and I can say is not because of that.
Technology is hugely influential in sports science and paves the way for improved injury prevention and rehabilitation. What sort of technology do you use and how big a difference could it make in the future?
Technology is part of the game. It helps the coaches and medical services to have the players monitored and sometimes to make technical decisions. In that way I would say that the flywheel devices, the Smartcoach encoders and the Tensomiography are three very new technologies that are really making the difference in professional football.
Finally, A lot is made of mental strength and how it can affect players. Do you think a player's mentality and attitude make a significant difference on recovery time?
It really does. Techniques like mindfulness or meditation are already being used in professional sports with excellent results. The more problem solving capacity the better capacity to heal and recover from an injury.