New Delhi: In tune with the increasing demand of sports physiotherapists, there is an apparent rising trend of students opting physiotherapy as a career. Bearing testimony to the fact, the admissions in Masters in Sports Physiotherapy programme currently being offered by about 23 universities and 180 colleges in India have gone up by 25% in last five years, according to data released during the National Sports Physiotherapy Conference on Monday.

While regular physiotherapy is about easing a patient back into normal life, sports physiotherapy is about improving the patient’s movement, agility, relieving muscles of fatigue and tightness. New techniques such as deep-tissue massage, dry needling, assisted stretching, KT taping and cupping are becoming popular. Sports medicine experts say that currently the most sought-after treatments by sports personals are dry needling (muscular release), sports massage, joint mobilization and preventative taping. And at peak performance, biomechanics assessment, deep-tissue massage, taping and corrective exercises are in demand.

Read - Inside India’s sports physiotherapy industry

“The demand for physiotherapists is increasing in India among sports persons. Many Indian physiotherapists are doing Master in Sports Physiotherapy which is a two-year program after completing the Bachelor of Physiotherapy which is a four-and-a-half year program," said Umasankar Mohanty, president, Manual Therapy Foundation of India, one of the institutions imparting the physiotherapy courses.

“The skills of a sport physiotherapist include prevention of injury by proper muscular recruitment, better conditioning for specific sports. The injury management is done by manual therapy, athletic taping, and functional return to sport training, exercise physiology, myofascial release and muscle energy techniques. For better performance of sports fraternity, efficient participation of skilled physiotherapists is need of the hour," he said.

India has been witnessing a rise in interest in sports among youth as various sports, beyond cricket, are also gaining popularity. Physiotherapy experts claim that at present there is a dearth of quality sports physiotherapy care, and demand is expected to surpass supply in the future. However, there is a gradual rise in students taking up physiotherapy as career.

“As the exposure and level of sports competition improves, so does the level of sports support required. With many professional leagues starting across India there are increasingly more opportunities for sports physiotherapists to be part of the sporting environment. There is serious potential for more physiotherapy practices to emerge in this specialization and prosper," Dr Navneet Krishna, a physiotherapist said.

“The sports physiotherapy space has been growing at 10 to 12% every year, and is projected to increase significantly in the years to come. More professional competitions mean more athletes in India with higher demands and expectations. India indeed needs better standards of sports physiotherapy," he said.

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