Physiotherapy-for-Referees
Georgiy Sekretaryuk
September 3, 2020
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Physiotherapy for Referees

As one of Greater Vancouver’s top sports injury rehabilitation clinics we have shared a number of articles on how athletes rely upon physiotherapy to remain both competitive and injury-free. We have covered physiotherapy for basketball players, football players, and more. 

However, there is one unsung hero who requires just as much attention when it comes to injury prevention and performance – referees. You’re running up and down the field or court along with the players of your sport. In doing so you too run significant risk of injury. For this reason you absolutely need to make physiotherapy a part of your regular health and wellness program. Below is what you need to know.

Why Sports Referees Must Make Physiotherapy a Regular Part of Their Personal Wellness Programs


Repair and Prevent Injuries Commonly Experienced by Referees

The National Library of Medicine (NLM) reports that nearly half of referees experience a total of 41 injuries during their careers. That’s a lot, but not surprising from our perspective. You’re running and pivoting along with players to keep a keen eye on any given play. In many cases you’re even jumping out of the way of falling or tackled participants.

As a result, approximately 90% of the referees report experiencing musculoskeletal disorders. The most common injuries include the following:

  • Ankle sprain
  • Hamstring strain
  • Knee strain and sprain
  • Torn achilles tendon
  • Torn calf muscles

All of these musculoskeletal concerns (and more) will be directly addressed by a physiotherapist. But this extends beyond a physiotherapist providing an effective injury treatment program. They will assist in keeping an injury from occurring in the first place. 

Your physiotherapy team will provide you with a regime of DIY exercises, warmups, and cool-downs to conduct before and after game time. Adherence to your strict conditioning program will reduce the risk of injury. View more on how to prevent sports injuries by placing a priority on warming up, cooling down, and other movements.

Can Improve Your Performance

There’s no bones about it, referees are athletes. To be among the best in your field you need to become more physically fit, which physiotherapy will also assist with. Undertaking regular (weekly or monthly) physiotherapy will help you increase speed, improve core fitness and balance, all of which will translate to better performance on the court, rink, or turf.

Can Help Extend Your Career

Referees have longer careers than the athletes they preside over. That said, the highly physical nature of your profession does severely limit how long you can continue in it unless you take steps to extend career longevity. Physiotherapy is instrumental in this goal. 

By working with a physiotherapist on a weekly or monthly (minimum) basis you will be better able to respond to injuries as soon as they occur, adjust your routine (exercises, etc.) to changes in your schedule (i.e. playoffs vs regular season) and more. The same NLM study addressed above indicates that the average referee misses a minimum of two-weeks, per injury. This forced time-off will add up significantly when you consider how many injuries you may sustain over your career. And of course, the greater severity and/or number of injuries the shorter your career may be. But again, regular physiotherapy can change all of that. Learn more about how physiotherapy helps athletes (and referees!) keep playing sports later in life.


Whether your season is just beginning or nearing the playoffs we encourage you to schedule a consultation with a sports physiotherapist right away. If you reside in the Greater Vancouver area please contact our Burnaby BC clinic at 604.558.2273 to book an appointment.

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