Brace Yourself

When recovering from an injury, or returning to play, adding extra stability to a “weaker” area can give an athlete (or your average Jo) a higher level of confidence whilst preventing excessive movement and putting an area at risk.

Although braces are frequently used across Australia, particularly in sports like Netball, let’s take a closer look at how useful they really are for the long term.

Why do people choose to use a brace?
In one word, stability. The brace mimics the job the ligaments, tendons and muscles should be doing – keeping the joint in line for movement. Sometimes excessive movement particularly around joints can cause damage to the ligaments, tendons and surrounding muscles making them more “stretchy” than they should be. Unfortunately, these areas often take a long time to heal so many athletes choose to prevent excessive movement by using a brace. Braces are also extremely time and cost efficient, it is a lot easier to simply strap a brace on, rather than spend time (and money) being taped for every training session and game.

Why should I think twice before using one?
Although braces are a fantastic short term support, using them long term can prevent movement in the joint. This means that the joint doesn’t have an opportunity to become stable by itself and be able to withstand the movements required in the day to day. This can actually increase the chance of injury for the athlete, and cause them to become “over confident” with their movements. This can mean the day they forget the brace, or decide not to use it, injury is very possible as the joint is able to move well out of the usual restraints the brace provides.

How can my physiotherapist help?
Your physiotherapist is an important partner when deciding to use a brace. They can make recommendations about the particular type to best suit you, and specific time/exercise cycles to use it for. Your physiotherapist will also provide you with exercises so that the brace is not a long term solution (if it isn’t necessary). They will give you strengthening and mobility exercises that relate specifically to your sport to ensure your body is ready to perform at its best.

Suzanne graduated from Western Sydney University with a Bachelor of Health Science (Sports and Exercise Science) in 2015. She then went on to continue her studies at Macquarie University graduating from the Doctor of Physiotherapy post-graduate degree in June 2019.

Since graduating, Suzanne has worked in the local Penrith area in both private practice and Sports Physiotherapy. Suzanne has worked with sporting teams including Penrith District Netball Association, Mt Druitt Rangers (NPL), Penrith Valley Figure Skating Club, and local dance and cheer schools. 

Suzanne has a particular interest in working with artistic athletes including cheerleaders and dancers. She has a professional background in both cheer and dance and has previously worked as both a cheer coach and dance teacher. Suzanne’s previous experiences are an invaluable resource to her as a physiotherapist, as she has a thorough understanding of the level of physical fitness and skill acquisition that these athletes must have in order to be successful on stage and in competition.

Suzanne’s other areas of clinical interest reside in lower limb musculoskeletal injuries, spinal pathologies and women’s health.

Nathanial graduated as a physiotherapist in 2012 which saw him work in private practice and hospital settings gaining experience in all areas of physiotherapy including hand therapy, splinting/casting, pre/post-operative care, Men’s Health and general musculoskeletal, occupational and sports physiotherapy. Since then he has gone on to complete further studies in physiotherapy enabling him to be the only dual titled Musculoskeletal, Sports and Exercise Physiotherapist in Penrith.

Nathanial has a strong background in sports physiotherapy achieving accreditation with NSWIS as a service provider and working with many elite sports teams.

Nathanial has a particular interest in working with elite athletes, complex cases and in particular assessment and management of knee, hip and shoulder pain.

Andrea graduated from the Australian Catholic University completing her Bachelor of Exercise and Sports Science in 2018 and Master’s of Clinical Exercise Physiology in 2020. After graduating she attained accreditation with ESSA as an Exercise Physiologist.

During her studies she gained clinical experience in both hospital and private practice settings, working in the cardiac rehabilitation program, heart failure service and mental health unit at Nepean Hospital. And at the ACU Exercise and Lifestyle Clinic working with clients with neurological conditions, cancer and chronic musculoskeletal injuries.

Since graduating, Andrea enjoys working with a variety of clients. She has a particular interest in treating musculoskeletal injuries and neurological conditions, striving to help people increase their functional capacity to get them back to work, sport or the things they love doing.