Recently I have been doing some extra work outside of my normal clinic. Over the last year I have had the opportunity to work at various Karate competitions, and hopefully this blog should give you a little insight into my time at one of these competitions.
I spent the weekend of the 27th and 28th May working at the British Karate Federation's Four Nations competition. The tournament was held at the Ponds Forge International Sports Centre in Sheffield and included competitors from all age groups travelling from all over Great Britain.
This was my third time working at a Karate competition, either for the British or English Karate Federations, as part of the medical team. Working alongside other Osteopaths as well as Paramedics and First Aiders allows us to provide good care to all athletes taking part in the competition. As part of the medical team you generally have two separate roles. The first is to provide first aid and care to athletes who are competing, which is done during the kumite or fighting side of the competition. This usually includes assessing injuries that occur during competition, cleaning blood injuries etc. The second is to provide more of a standard type of Osteopathic care to competitors away from the tatami (the mats the competition takes place on). This generally involves the assessment and treatment of injuries, taping & strapping etc. Probably what you would expect an Osteopath to be doing.
Now, I am a relative novice in Karate. Other than the competitions I've already worked at, I have no experience of Karate at all! I didn't know my kiai from my kata, or a tsuki from a keri (if you're reading this and haven't got a clue about Karate then you're probably a bit lost as well..). For me though, this doesn't really create too much of an issue as I quickly picked up the rules, understood the traditions and realised my role.
You may be wondering why Osteopaths are being used in this role. I know that Osteopathy is not traditionally seen in these sorts of roles, but as a profession it is slowly being integrated throughout sport more and more. The reason I feel Osteopathy works so well at Karate competitions is down to the fact that all the Osteopaths who I work with at these competitions are further qualified to provide Sports First Aid but also work within their remit and know when certain injuries or conditions should be attended to by the paramedic or sent away for further examination elsewhere. This is nothing out of the ordinary though, as this takes place in every day practice for an Osteopath. Understanding the person in front of you, assessing them efficiently and comprehensively and then putting in place the best management and treatment plan possible is completely normal for me. The only difference between a normal practice and at a Karate competition is the environment you're treating in, and the relative speed of examination and decision-making you need. In short, Sports Osteopathy is just like normal Osteopathy but can feel like its going at 100mph and you have more bloody noses to sort out.
Like I just said, this isn't your 'bog-standard' Osteopathy in the sense that you're sat in a room, one-to-one with a patient. It's a different type of approach to every day practice, with the setting being a massive contrast and the dynamic of the entire situation you are in is completely different. It is a challenging experience to have to make decisions quickly, especially when my decision could be the difference between winning and losing, gold or silver. But it is that challenge that I enjoy, and feel that by becoming a better 'Sports Osteopath' I become a better Osteopath in general.