Physiotherapist Fiona Jacobs has just returned from Germany where she supported 15 junior and senior international level MAG and WAG Australian gymnasts competing at the DTB Cup in Stuttgart.
We asked her to tell us a bit about the experience . . . .
How and when did you become involved with Gymnastics Australia?
I have been working with gymnasts at a local club level since 2007 and have worked for Gymnastics Victoria covering various gym sports such as WAG, MAG, Trampoline, Acro, and Rhythmic Gymnastics at the Australian National Championships since 2009. This trip has been my first overseas trip working with Gymnastics Australia, after a previous trip in 2020 with the Australian Acrobatic team had to be postponed due to Covid –19.
What did your role on the trip entail / what was the day-to-day like for you there?
We had 3 teams competing at the DTB Pokal Cup in Stuttgart – a senior and junior men’s team, and a senior women’s team. As the travelling team physiotherapist, my time was spent either treating the gymnasts at the hotel in their down time or covering training and competition at the venues.
The athletes arrived a full week before competition to acclimatise to the time zone and train together as a team, so most of my days would start by travelling in by train with the team to the training venue early in the morning where they would train from about 8-11.30am. We would then return to the hotel for treatment and lunch and return the training venue around 3-6pm. We would come back and have dinner together at the hotel. Some nights I would do a couple of check in’s and treatments after dinner, but most often I would pretty much crash and go to bed, to do it all again the next day!
We had a couple of afternoons off where we got to explore Stuttgart and visit the Mercedes Benz Museum which was located just around the corner form the training venue!
What did you find most enjoyable about the trip?
I always enjoy working with teams, as I really enjoy getting to know the athletes and coaching team, and having the opportunity to support them to feel the best prepared they can for competition. I also really enjoyed the opportunity to explore Stuttgart a little. However, my absolute highlight of the trip was watching one of our Victorian based junior gymnasts who I have worked with for several years accomplish his dream of making finals on 3 apparatus, and finish with a bronze medal on vault in his first ever international competition.
What do you find the most challenging?
The most challenging part of this trip was dealing with a significant knee injury to one of our athletes. Whilst the medical services and care available in Germany were excellent, telling an athlete they have a knee injury that requires surgery never gets any easier.
How does this differ from other sports you are involved in / athletes you have worked with?
In gymnastics I work with a lot of hypermobile bodies, and a lot of overload type injuries, and generally less frequently need to manage acute injuries. During competition we spend a lot of time trying to optimise recovery and feeling good to perform. This can be different to the bodies I see when working in football or basketball where we tend to see and manage more lower limb acute sprain and strain injuries. In gymnastics I see a lot of sore backs, shoulders and jammed ankles. However, I have always found there is helpful crossover in what you learn working with one demographic of athlete/sport to another, and it helps to see different sporting cultures, habits, and ideas about management to provide context and more tools in the toolkit to help support athletes across a variety of settings.
How do you feel this experience will help you in treating your patients at Alphington Sports Medicine Clinic?
I love working with adolescents and developing athletes – this trip has reminded me just how much I enjoy being a part of a team to help young athletes learn how to best manage their bodies to minimise injury risk and optimise performance.
For more information about Fiona Jacobs go to: https://www.alphingtonsportsmed.com.au/practitioners#fiona-jacobs