Sports Performance

What is sports performance

Sports performance physiotherapy is looking at the biomechanical function of a canine athlete. In order to further enhance their physical capabilities, help improve their overall performance in their specific sport, and aid in injury prevention/management.  

Research heavily supports the use of physiotherapy and conditioning programmes in human athletes to help improve performance, and slowly research is being done to demonstrate the same in canine athletes. The use of a tailor-made physiotherapy conditioning program provides cross-training for canine athletes outside of the usual sport, to help improve performance whilst also reducing the risk of an overuse injury.  

Canine Athletes

Canine athletes come in many forms, with some examples listed below. However if you do a sport with your dog that is not listed please get in touch and we will work with you to enhance your dogs sporting ability 
Canine Sports
Agility 
Flyball 
Obedience 
Canicross 
Bike Jor 
Showing 
Working eg. Gundogs, police dogs, working trials.  

Initial Appointment (Approx. 90mins)

The initial appointment will include an in-depth verbal and physical assessment, to determine your dogs current starting point as well as to determine the owners desired goals within their specific sport. Measurement markers will be taken where appropriate to allow progress to be tracked.  


Following the initial assessment, a careful designed conditioning programme will be created for your individual dog and tailored to their specific sport in order to enhance strength, endurance, flexibility, agility, and speed.  


Included within the initial appointment is the option for video analysis of sporting footage. Video footage of your dog participating in their sport will be evaluated to assess the dogs biomechanical function within their specific sport, giving us a more in depth assessment of their current performance. [a maximum of 3 mins of video footage will be assessed and must be received at least 7 days prior to the initial appointment]. Follow up video analysis can be provided upon further discussion throughout course of the programme.

Follow Up Appointments (Approx. 45-55mins)

After devising a physiotherapy conditioning programme during your initial assessment, follow up sessions will be undertaken by our skilled therapists and utilise our many facilities available. This may include the use of: the hydrotherapy pool or treadmill, massage, stretching, LASER, proprioceptive enhancement, and further discussion about exercise programs.


The initial 3-4 sessions will most likely be at weekly or fortnightly intervals to allow us to acclimatise the dogs to hydrotherapy and the clinic setting, as well as to allow us to fully assess the dog’s response to the conditioning programme and target fitness, strength, and endurance.  


After this, the number and frequency of sessions will depend on many variables, such as the individual dog’s presentation and progression, the sport, and the owners sporting goals and will be discussed during the initial appointment.  


The frequency of sessions, the workload within the session, as well as the home conditioning programme will be continually assessed and progressed to optimise performance. The rate of progression however is catered to the individual dog, as progressing too rapidly can result in injury, whilst progressing too slowly can delay meeting goals.  

Example Sports Performance Programme

Week 1

Prior to your initial session, our team will contact your veterinary surgeon to obtain a referral for your animals' treatment, as well as discuss your animals needs further if required.

Your initial appointment will be conducted as described above including an in-depth assessment and treatment, and a bespoke physiotherapy conditioning programme will be devised.

N.B: If required, video footage of your dog participating in their sport will be evaluated prior to your initial appointment to assess the dogs biomechanical function within their specific sport, giving us a more in depth assessment of their current performance. [a maximum of 3 mins of video footage will be assessed and must be received at least 7 days prior to the initial appointment].


Week 2

Depending on your dog’s sporting goals, this session may be an initial introduction to water-based conditioning, coupled with further land-based exercises and treatment to start them on their conditioning programme and assess their response.

Week 3 - 5

These sessions will be water-based conditioning that focuses on your dog's sporting individual goals to improve their performance and aid in injury prevention. 

The frequency of sessions during this period will depend on many factors, including your dog's fitness and sporting goals. For example, if the dog’s cardiovascular fitness, muscle strength and endurance are the main treatment goal, weekly sessions of hydrotherapy may be advised for 6-8 weeks. Whilst an already fit dog the focus may be on agility and flexibility, therefore may only need 3 sessions at weekly internal to acclimatise to the hydrotherapy pool/treadmill, with subsequent sessions could then progress to fortnightly/three weekly for the home conditioning programme to be assessed and progressed.


Week 6

A land-based session will be advised, with a re-assessment, including a performance review which will include re-taking measurement markers to assess their progression, as well as further adaptation to home programme.

N.B: If required, video footage of your dog participating in their sport will be evaluated again at this point to assess the dog's biomechanical function within their specific sport, giving us a more in-depth assessment of improvements in their performance, and allow more focus on areas that may still need assistance [a maximum of 3 mins of video footage will be assessed and must be received 7 days before the appointment].


Week 7 –12

These sessions will be water-based conditioning to continue to enhance your dog's performance and aid in injury prevention.  

The frequency of sessions during this period will depend on many factors, including your dog's fitness, sporting goals and response to the conditioning programme.  


Week 12 +  

Continuation of the conditioning programme with regular reviews for re-assessment to ensure that we continue to meet the needs of your dog's sporting goals and maintain performance whilst aiding injury prevention.  

The frequency of these sessions will depend on your dog’s response to the condition programme as well as your sporting goals. It may also be that the frequency of sessions changes throughout the sporting seasons, with an increase in frequency to improve strength, speed, and endurance in the initial run up to the start of a season, with the frequency of sessions altering during the season to ensure peak performance and injury prevention during periods of increased workload. Then the frequency may then reduce during the off season, to maintain condition but the intensity of training is not needed.