Supporting elite athletes on the court

Dr Jo Larkin, Consultant in Sports and Exercise Medicine at Fortius Clinic in London talks about her role as a Lead Sports Physician in elite sport.

1. What is your role in elite sports?

"I have been Lead Sports Physician at LTA since March for British tennis players, which involves supporting player health, wellbeing and performance from the national junior level right through to the elite level. I work there all year round, holding clinics at the National Tennis Centre on Mondays and Thursdays, however, I am generally always on call."

2. What are the demands you experience working in elite sports?

"The main demands are usually performance driven, as elite players want to maintain fitness and health to perform and go up the rankings. The challenges they face are the gruelling schedules, in particular travelling with multiple time zones changes for each tournaments. Due to the “sudden death” nature of the competition, their schedule cannot usually be planned for and is therefore quite reactive."

3. What are the most common injuries you see?

"It tends to be more overuse injuries rather than acute trauma. Generally speaking, the distribution is 50% lower limb, 25% trunk and 25% upper limb. That said, there are all sorts of ‘niggles’ that need to be managed."

4. Do you have any advice for those in amateur sport?

"Yes, there is no need to focus all of your training on the court, it is important to take part in conditioning to meet the high level demands. So many people don’t do anything but the game in hand and wonder why they get injured."

5. Do you have any advice for women wanting to get into sports medicine?

"Well there are not many of us, which has its advantages and is a unique selling point. To get to the top level you need to be really focused and determined, act very professional and lead the way in breaking the mould."

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Supporting elite athletes on the court