Thursday, 25 September 2014

A few things I'm learning as a local club therapist

I'm beginning to settle into my role as club therapist with the rugby team, although it's still proving to be a quite a steep learning curve. For many of the players it's their first experience of having someone around to help in this way and because I'm not a physio or even a sports therapist, just a humble sports massage therapist, there's much for me to learn and limits to my knowledge. I'm very grateful for the time I spent as a student at both Thurrock RFC and working at the daily Telegraph. Those two adventures helped build both skills and confidence.

So what are some of the things I've learnt? (both serious and funny).

Well, there's the simple fact that you can never have enough tape when it comes to looking after a rugby team. give them a roll of zinc oxide, EAB or even electrical tape and it will disappear in a flash! Some of it is for support some of it can appear more cosmetic than essential! We get through at least 4 rolls of EAB just doing the lifting blocks for the line out jumpers. Oh, and I've been experimenting with how to prolong the life of the blocks we use.

I'm guessing at a professional level they use them once and discard them because tape gets stuck to them and tears lumps off when you try to remove it. They're only 50p each, but at our level that would add £100 to the season's costs. My first solution was to wrap the blocks in cling film, which works quite well. It stops the tape sticking to the blocks and makes them reusable. I then tried wrapping them in electrical tape. This also works, but the blocks become quite stiff and less easy to shape around the leg. My next experiment is the try Z/O tape.

The next thing I've learnt is that no matter how organised your bag might be, you can never find the thing you want when you're looking for it under pressure! I've tried to make sure I know where all the things are in my pitch-side bag, but it's not that easy. Over time I'll probably find a way of sorting things in the bag so it's more obvious where to look, but one import an thing is to put stuff back in the same place. So, for example, my scissors are always in the same pocket. That is until someone takes them out to cut something and doesn't put them back where I do. When things go quite, I sometimes check through the bag to remind myself where things are. The other thing I've done is buy some ziplock bags to separate items out. For example, I have one with nasal sponges in, and one with swabs. It keeps them clean and separated. I also have one for odds and ends of tape.

As the therapist and pitch-side first aider I've learnt to carry a few other items with me too. Spare boot laces, a pen, a small torch (which I need to get next time I'm in the supermarket). I also carry a variety of sports straps for ankles and wrists. As a small club the budget for supplies isn't big, so some of the players buy their own tape. Because I get a discount, I often offer to get stuff for them and pass on my discount.

Ice is important! I've got instant ice-packs, and I've got Physicool bandages too (Physicool is a great product and worth a closer look for anyone who uses ice.) I take a cool box with me. At home matches I go to the bar for ice, but for away matches I stick a bag of ice from Tescos in. It only costs £1 and makes 5 or 6 smaller bags that can often be refrozen after the match when we get home.

Last on my list of things to take with me is a small camping stool. Most of the grounds we go to don't have a bench, so if I want to sit down at all I need something with me.

I've also learnt to filter the language and accept the ribbing that comes with the job. I'm waiting for the day I run onto the pitch and fall over. I suspect that will get one of the biggest cheers. This isn't a judgement. As anyone who knows me, you'll understand the challenge as a Christian such an environment can be, but it's great fun. The only problem is that some of the jokes are really funny but not repeatable in any context in which I usually find myself!

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Bags, bags, bags!

How much kit do you carry around with you? Be honest now, it's probably more than you need, I know it is for me. Having recently taken on the role of club therapist for local rugby club I've found myself looking at bags, specifically pitch-side bags, to carry all the first aid and other stuff around. There are a lot of bags out there to do this job, but I've got three I've been using for a variety of things.

First up is the pitch-side bag from Physique. This is a great bag. I inherited this one at the club and I've been using for a couple of weeks. The shoulder strap has gone missing, but that's not too important.

The bag itself is just the right size (42 x 28 x 25cm) for everything I seem to need to carry, especially when we're off to an away match and I have to leave the cupboard behind! There are front and rear side pockets, one with an internal mesh pocket and dividers in the main compartment. Unlike the other bags, these dividers are fixed and simply fold out to create separate spaces. There are also two handy mesh pockets on the outside for a bottle and a spray.

This one has been through at least one season given the dirt it's accumulated, but it's still okay and all the zips work.

Next up is a similar bag from Physioroom. This bag is similar in size (45cm x 26cm x 27cm) to the Physique bag but lacks the external mesh pockets. Inside it has all sorts of pockets and holders to keep you organised. I haven't tested this in the field as they say, but it's certainly seems to be well made and I use it to keep my personal stash of first aid supplies. The main compartment can be divided using two velcro panels, giving some organisation but not as much as the other bag.

The third bag comes from Firstaid4sport. At 45cm x 25cm x 31cm it's by far the largest of the bags, which is both a plus and a minus depending upon what you put in it! It's also bright orange (as you may have noticed!)

I like this bag for a variety of reasons. First the size. As a First Aid bag I think it might be a bit big (there is a smaller version that measures 41cm x 27cm x 23cm-a little smaller than the other two above), but for carrying my massage stuff this is a great bag.

The central compartment can be divided using two velcro partitions and there is a very useful zip pocket on the end of the bag as well as both the front and the back. Additional to these compartments are a couple of velcro fastening pockets on the front and back.On the opposite end to the pocket is a mesh pocket for a water bottle or spray.

The side pockets have the usual internal mesh pockets and zipped compartments that you find in a field bag.

The colour is the most obvious and in some ways useful distinctive characteristic of the bag. It's certainly unlikely to get missed amongst a pile of rucksacks and holdalls.

Out of the three, the Physique bag is certainly robust and a good size with those handy external mesh pockets. If you don't need or want the mesh pockets, then the Physioroom bag offers great value for money at the moment (as of Sept '14 it's on a promotional price under £20!) If you're looking for a more compact touchline bag then have a look at Firstaid4sport's touchline bag.

You can buy any of these bags empty or fully equipped as a first aid bag. But beware, the contents are similar yet with some very clear differences. It would take too long to analyse the contents, but again I think Physique probably just has the edge over the others for value and range. Whichever you choose you will probably need to supplement the supplied contents, so check carefully what you get and think about what you need.

If you just want a bag for you're own stuff, I'd definitely consider the bright orange offering.