With no means of face-to-face interaction between our players and medical department, this current scenario is perhaps one of the more difficult hurdles that the physiotherapy team is likely to overcome.
As a club, we are quite fortunate that our senior players suffering from injury were nearing the end of their rehabilitation when football was postponed following the Coronavirus outbreak last month.
While the situation isn’t ideal, Craig Sedgwick and Vikki Stevens are still able to contact the players and implement recovery programmes for anyone working their way back to fitness from the confines of their own home.
“In one sense we’ve been quite lucky because, with the injuries we’ve got, they’re at the end stage,” began Sedgwick. “From the other aspect, it is better if you can be there one-to-one to see how they’re doing during running sessions, how they’re doing certain jumps or exercises.
“So, it’s all been done via phone or text messages and video calls, and it’s been strange. It’s been OK, first team-wise and under 23s, but a bit hard for the under 18s because they’ve got a couple of lads who probably require a bit more physiotherapy with key interventions so that makes it a little more difficult for those lads.
“A lot of the surgeons are shutting down the practices and clinics, as you can understand – they don’t want the added face-to-face contact. Some of them are still seeing people, if it’s going to affect careers or if it’s life threatening, they’re still seeing those sorts of people.
“We can get specialists to see people and get interventions done, which, in a certain case with an U18s player, we’ve had to do because he’s required a surgical intervention. But, otherwise, we’ve been advised to stay away and have no face-to-face contact.”
It’s a case of adapting to the current climate and working with the tools at your disposal to the best of your ability.
There is no access to gym facilities and, while some players may have their own equipment to work with, others don’t, so it is about using your initiative and sometimes taking creative inspiration from elsewhere.
“Everyone around the country has got to adapt and that’s what we’ve had to do; we’ve come up with weird and wonderful things to suit the scenario,” continued Sedgwick.
“Two or three programmes had to be revised initially because the players didn’t have access to certain equipment, so we had to redo them and send them back out again. It was a bit trial and error, but it’s needs must and you’ve got to deal with the scenario that you’re in.
“The other day, I was looking on my Twitter account and I saw some guy doing hamstring exercises with his wife’s handbag – he had it loaded up with heavy stuff and he was using it as a kettle bell.
“So you can incorporate that sort of stuff, especially for the younger lads or lads on less salary; you can think outside the box. There’s that sort of thing that I’m talking about, trying to think up weird and wonderful exercises to fit the purpose.
“We did a session on Zoom for low body strength and Luke [Dopson] had the players doing exercises off the couch and up and down off benches or chairs. It’s about adapting, and we’re still getting a stimulus.”
With so much time now being spent away from the club, it can be easy for players to get bored, distracted or potentially demotivated as this crisis continues to drag out.
However, Sedgwick insists that the Barnsley squad are consummate professionals who are eager to keep on top of their fitness levels for when they return to Oakwell.
“Nowadays, footballers don’t tend to enjoy not doing anything,” continued the Reds’ Head Physio. “We’ve found that a little bit with our lads, and Luke and Jordan [Foster] have kept them going because we don’t really have a return date.
“Because it’s going to be a while until we’re back in training, this week we’ve decided that this was going to be more of a down week, but we’ve noticed a lot of them have kept on with their work and programmes that they were given.
“It’s changed quite a lot now, but I would envisage that you’d probably need three or four weeks of training to get back in before games start. I’d say, anything less than that, you’re probably running the risk of someone getting injured.”
With no return date circled in the calendar and no idea whether the current campaign will resume or conclude, the football world is in a state of flux.
However, like everyone at Barnsley, ‘Sedgy’ is desperate for the season to finish and is confident that the Reds can accumulate the required points to stay in the Sky Bet Championship.
“There’s definitely desire for us to finish the season because we feel like we can get the points needed to stay up,” he asserted. “It’s been done before and, if we get the chance to do it, I think we will. The lads are all positive and there’s a core group that will do anything they can to get the three points; they’re do or die.
“It would be nice for the club, financially-wise, to get going again and get a bit of revenue for the club – people can lose their jobs, no matter what line of work you’re in.”
He has only been working with Head Coach Gerhard Struber for a few months, but feels he has developed a positive relationship with the Austrian.
Communication between all departments is key in this industry, and it is important that the opinions of the medical team are heard loud and clear amid the risk of potentially causing further injury to a player.
“He’s a great coach and a good person; that’s the main trait I like in a Head Coach,” asserted Sedgwick. “It’s someone who is approachable and you can speak to them, if they disagree they’ll tell you there and then, if you’ve got an issue that you feel is going to affect the team you can speak to him and he’ll accept your decision and take it on board.”