Kirsty McNab is the owner and head physio of Physiologix Therapy Solutions based at the Gap Health and Racquet Club. This year was the fifth year that she worked at the
There are 2 changing rooms in the Rod Laver complex each with a treatment room attached. This enables players to come straight off court and onto a treatment bed or to have a match/practice warm up or taping done before they walk out onto court. One is a smaller quieter room for those players who prefer more calm before their matches, and the other change room is a big and very busy, noisy area where the music is always going.
Every morning the physio team meets for an hour before play starts to discuss all the players.
Problems and possible treatment approaches are discussed for players with complex issues. This is done in conjunction with the doctors as often imaging such as MRI's, injections or other specialist opinions are needed. All players going out that day are also discussed. It is essential that if anything happens with a player on court that the physio who is called onto the court knows exactly what injuries the player currently has as well as all their past medical history. Each player will have specific treatment techniques they respond to best with a recurrent injury - when called to the court for a medical time out, the physio only has 3 minutes to treat the player, so knowing the player and what works best for them is essential to that player being able to play on as successfully as possible. For the rest of the day the girls are treated for the injuries they have. Many of the players carry long term problems that have to be continuously managed if they are to be able to keep playing. Elite athletes are pushing their bodies to the limit every day.
For any person with an injury, there will be ways they try to compensate if one part of their body is not functioning to its full capacity. This will often manifest as another injury at some time. With an elite athlete this will happen almost immediately. The kinetic chain is the way the body works to move in a particular pattern - if part of the chain is injured, the rest of the chain is affected. The injury and the kinetic chain needs to be carefully monitored and treated as a whole.
A Grand Slam is a time that athletes can be screened. Often blood tests looking at their general conditioning are done. Nutrition, podiatry and psychology are all essential components of an athletes general health makeup. As most of the players will often be in for physio most days, the physios are often the ones to realise that other things are an issue. Careful questioning when a player presents for treatment will often reveal an underlying issue behind their current injury or a lack of performance. It is essential the player is then referred to the best person to address these other issues. Cramping often can occur in long matches - players need to be carefully educated about how to keep the body's core temperature down using cold towels as well as replacing lost fluid and electrolyte levels with a carefully implemented hydration plan. The physio's role has to be diverse and all encompassing.
Recovery is a so often underdone part of people's exercise. Players will spend a long time ensuring they recover from one match so that they can play even a few hours later in another match in top form. This is also an essential component of injury prevention. Recovery includes massage and recovery baths - this is where the players go between a cold and hot plunge
pool multiple times to help flush their legs, making them feel fresher the next day. Treatment of anything they are aware of is then done, moving around the body to deal with all that may have come up in the match.
The days working at the Australian Tennis Open are long and hard work. But the challenge of working with such focused, motivated, highly tuned athletes is highly rewarding. The Australian Open, run by Tennis Australia, is a world class event - it expects high standards from the staff they employ. To work at such a professionally run event, with an incredible team of medical professionals is something that I feel very lucky to have been part of.
Kirsty McNab is a Sports Physiotherapist at Physiologix Therapy Solutions at the Gap Health and Racquet Club, 200 Settlement Rd. You can contact the clinic at (07) 3511 1112 or from the website on our Contact Us page.