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Studies & Degrees in Sports Medicine

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Sports Medicine Study Programs

Level: Undergraduate Bachelors     Location: Cádiz

Sports Medicine is one field of the health sciences that deals with treatment and management of athletes. This includes training and injury prevention, addressing sports- related conditions and the overall physical conditioning of the body for participation in various types of athletic events. Modern sports medicine also aims to develop and improve the athlete’s performance during an event by modifying diet, exercise and health supplements to supply the more than average demand of an athlete’s body.

Sports Medicine has its early beginnings as far back as the 5th century in the ancient areas of Greece and Rome as a program for young athletes who were not properly conditioned and therefore suffer frequent injuries. It started as physical education, which focused on the tenets of proper training and conditioning for sports. It allowed many young athletes to properly perform exercises, control their activities and increase their overall performance. Herodicus began distinct training regimens to prevent and heal injuries and Galen also served as a doctor assigned in monitoring gladiators during the 2nd century. During this period, physicians were only concerned with injuries when they occurred and not to help in prevention. Starting in the 1968 summer Olympics Dr. J.C. Kennedy organized the first team of doctors to travel with the Canadian athletes to monitor their health and performance. This first shed light on the need for sports doctors during athletic events to maintain the overall wellness of the teams. Many sports doctors are now involved in treating and preventing injuries but also with regular check- ups and testing to make certain that athletes are at their top performing shape. Some teams view the use of a sports medicine team as an unnecessary expense, but most teams consider it crucial to have their athletes monitored. Today, the constant care provided for the athletes have dramatically decreased the number of sports injuries and improved their quality of life. Many developments are still being utilized to further improve prevention of injury and permanent damages to the body especially with intense forms of exercises and sports. Most athletic teams now travel with their own medical teams and more athletes are now cooperating and are willing to work with their sports physicians to improve their game and their health.

Sports physicians as well as the members of a sports medicine team can be involved with athletic training, or planning and monitoring of the exercise routines and nutrition of athletes for better performance. Strength and conditioning or helping the athlete determine the goals to be attained with exercise, gradual increase of strength through training and the best condition of the athlete to be able to gain top performance. Another branch is Human performance or training of the athlete to adapt to the demands of a specific sport and improve the execution of activities. Another important area is the athletic equipments, of finding the right equipment to protect and improve the performance of athletes and to develop the current equipment being utilized.

Job positions for Sports Medicine:

Sports Psychologist

Sports psychology is now becoming one of the fastest growing occupations in sports medicine. A lot of athletes are now coming to psychologists who are experienced in mentally and emotionally preparing athletes for events and competitions. This is an important aspect since mental preparedness, focus and release of anxiety is needed to be physically ready for the demands of the upcoming game. Mental conditioning is also crucial to prevent the fast onset of fatigue especially if it is psychologically induced. To define it, sports psychology is the scientific study of psychological factors that are associated with involvement in physical activity, most especially in competitive sports. These professionals or sports psychologists are trained and experienced to help athletes improve athletic performance through psychological preparedness and help them to understand how their activity affects them in all aspects throughout their life span. Sports psychology is a career for licensed psychologists who are particularly skilled in giving motivation and elevating confidence and self-esteem for athletes who are taken down by attacks of anxiety. Psychological skill training is defined as consistent practice and development of mental and psychological skills. An athletic team and all its members must also develop these skills as much as physical skills are being developed. Training and practice for these skills are now being incorporated in the regular practice to be able to achieve top performance level without anxiety during actual games. Sports psychologists plan, implement, supervise and revise these programs to better suit the needs of a team. As all teams face anxiety, pressure and meltdowns both physically and psychologically, the demand for sports psychologists is now rising and the development of new techniques and programs are being created.

Most sports psychologists are required to have a master’s or doctorate degree in psychology although some are accepted with only a bachelor’s degree but with experience. It is also required to have experience in applying psychological principles in the training of sports teams and individual athletes as well. Psychologists who would want to pursue this career should have specialized training in sports psychology, doctorate in counselling or clinical psychology, Master’s level counsellor or therapist or advanced training in exercises science and fitness. Usually there are two types of sports psychologists: academic and applied. The academic sports psychologists are involved mostly on education and research. They eventually teach in these new methods and findings in colleges and universities although some of them also assist in the psychological management and interventions for teams, athletes and their personnel. Applied sports psychologists are more involved in the active practice of their profession in sports teams, athletes and settings with physical activity. They participate in addressing the performance of a team by clinical consultations, teambuilding and workshops that are all for the mental, emotional and psychological aspects of the team.

Athletic Trainer

One good career in sports medicine is Athletic Training. In this kind of job, an individual must be ready for long periods of education, training, hands- on practice and examinations for licensing. It also requires stamina and good physical shape, much like the athletes being handled. The long working hours and travelling will have a great demand on the body because athletes are undergoing constant training and their athletic trainers must always be there to supervise them.

Athletic trainers are responsible for the management, prevention, detection, and retraining of injured athletes. In the team’s medical attendants, the athletic trainers are supervised by the licensed physician to give immediate emergency measures and follow- up care. It is also their job to suggest and utilize the right equipment suited to their team. All aspects of performance and maintenance of the team rely mostly on the athletic trainer. Athletic trainers are well educated on injury prevention, detection and treatment because of their background on anatomy, physiology and sports science. Athletic trainer’s also coordinate the current health status of their athletes to the physician, coach, their families and other team members to determine whether an injured athlete should return to training. To become a certified athletic trainer, one must be educated in the health sciences, with a detailed background on sports injuries, its common causes and its treatments. The basic foundations in sports, biomechanics and athletics is also a must know for the athletic trainer. Other subjects usually taken up are nutrition, strength training and therapeutic exercises. Athletic trainers work in coordination with physicians and rehabilitation specialists in the health care teams of secondary, collegiate, university level and professional sports teams. Athletic trainers may also have administrative roles which include holding regular meetings with other administrative officers of a school or team to deal with budgets, rules and policies and other businesses regarding the team and its performance.

The usual work schedules of athletic trainers are longer and inconsistent. This means that work schedules depend on the team’s practice days and competition days in which the athletic trainer has to be present at all times. Game days may be morning or night and weekdays or weekends. Changes are also very frequent when competitions are rescheduled. This just proves that indeed, the work of an athletic training is very physically demanding. There are also some stresses and inconvenience in their nature of work since athletic trainers not only handle the over-all health of single athlete, but most of time, for a whole team. For some, it becomes more challenging when a single athlete is given to them for special care, training and attention. Basic psychological therapy knowledge is then put into play when athletes are overcome by frustration and low self- esteem. The pressure to win is also a big factor that affects an athletic trainer’s health since it is their responsibility to keep athletes in top shape which is essential to winning. Career opportunities for athletic trainers are favourable. Annually, the profession grows by approximately 10% giving a good career outlook.