Physio Speaks : Anuja Dalvi : Indian Sports Physiotherapist

In an INTERVIEW with PHYSIOTIMES, Anuja Dalvi speaks about how her career shaped, the story behind her success and scope of Indian Sports Physiotherapy.


Tell us about your journey as an Indian sports Physiotherapist?

It has been a very fulfilling and humbling journey. I have witnessed various incidences through sheer fortunes to channelized hard-work, building or breaking careers of players in different sports.

My experience with Indian Sports Physiotherapy has made me grow into not just a better professional but more as a person.

I enjoy interacting and helping out athletes. I like to be held accountable for my work with my clients and I love the challenge of extracting their personal best along with the other support staff.

I started my career with Mumbai Cricket Association in 2009 and went on to become a certified physio with National Cricket Academy (NCA) in 2010. I worked with NCA - BCCI from 2010 - 2012. After four years of quality work, I realized it was time to upgrade myself, and I entered the University of South Australia (UniSA) in 2012.

I consider it to be the best year so far. It transformed me into a much better physio and a person. After coming back, I started working with on-field cricket and many other sports at my establishment LiveActive Physiotherapy. In 2018 I worked with Bangladesh Cricket Association. Since 2018 I have been attached with Go Sports Foundation and have been working with many non-cricket sports and para-athletes.

I have also worked in the capacity of the medical officer for PKL since 2017 till present, which has been a very enriching experience.

We also host post-graduate Unisa sports for physio students every year for an off-shore educational program in Mumbai to spared physiotherapy knowledge.

So overall it has been a varied and satisfactory journey so far.


What are the most common injuries among female cricketers and their causes?

Treating high-performance female athletes is a specialization in itself. There are a few similar issues that can be found across different sports like ACL injuries, or injuries related to mobility & strength imbalance in the female skeleton, lack of proper physical training in young age and related alignment issues, spectrum related to nutritional issues and hormonal cycles, etc.

Body image disorders, the stereotype of the female body in the community and related diet issues were a significant issue in the past but are definitely changing with modern times. The girls get to witness and follow more successful female role models in sports.

With the game getting more and more competitive and girls getting fitter and more aggressive in the style of play, I can say that I have started seeing similar patterns of injuries in male and female cricket players eg. stress reactions and stress fractures in the spine and lower body, posterior ankle impingement with increased pace in bowling. The increased number of games in domestic and international cricket is also an important factor.

But at the same time, girls are getting more professional; they are taking more effort in improving their skills and fitness levels.


Do the women cricketers follow strict regimens or is it still under-develop in women's cricket?

Cricket fitness has seen a manifold development in the past decade. I still have memories of the 2009 NCA camp which was the first-ever camp held inside NCA for female cricketers. Things have changed tremendously since then, especially with the World cup final in 2017 in England. In cricket from the U-14 stage, one gets exposed to quality support staff including sessions on nutrition. And many cricketers would privately seek the advice of professionals.

The competitiveness in today’s cricket means that you have to rely not only on your skills and talent but also to come to out as a complete athlete which needs a special focus on fitness, nutrition, and recovery.


How important is individualized assessment and treatment planning?

I strongly believe in individualized assessments and treatment strategies as we are dealing with human beings and not machines.

I rely a lot on player’s feedback and opinions as it makes my management plan more effective. Although whenever needed, I do try to explain and change their unhelpful or unscientific opinions.

It is paramount to understand their routines, e.g. their pre-game routine or any preventive taping, ongoing management, recovery techniques, etc.

Hence getting to know my players is the most crucial part of my job. It also helps me understand their psychology as they play a team sport and being a traveling physio, you tend to be with the players over longer durations.


Tell us about your experience with the Bangladesh team during the Asia cup win?

I was appointed as a physio to BCB women’s team in 2018. It was a very different experience. Understanding and accommodating cultural differences especially related to food and fitness habits was a big challenge. Also, it was the first time that the team was provided with a foreign physio.


The team went as underdogs in the Asia cup 2018. I still remember the moment when both the national anthems were played and I felt a dilemma of working with the opposition team. Bangladesh girls played brilliantly in the guidance of talented coaches - Anju Jain and Devieka Palshikaar.

Our winning team was felicitated at the president’s house in a momentous ceremony. This victory was a game-changer

for women’s cricket in Bangladesh. Every Bangladeshi became familiarized with the girls and they received better remuneration, facilities, and rewards.


Witnessing such a change in their community towards a female sport and players is a special memory.


Which major differences do you feel in today’s scenario as a sports physio with the one when you started?

I have been in this field for 11 years, and a lot has changed. We have seen a tremendous rise in the sports sector, especially with the birth of IPL in 2008.

Stakeholders are on the rise and as a team member, Physios are finding themselves more and more accountable for their actions. This not only induces responsibility among the professionals but also increases credibility.

This is the major difference I have experienced in the past decade. Although the awareness regarding the profession is increasing with each day, I would like to see more modernized management strategies applied by physios at all the strata and in all the cities.


How important do you feel is to keep oneself updated?

Sadly, I don’t see the eagerness in today’s younger physios to keep themselves updated. One must understand that CPD is like an investment and you must choose the educational events not based on the lowest prices and free materials but the credentials and relevant experience of the instructors and the authenticity of the company or the institute organizing the event.

Today there are many digital means of improving your Physiotherapy knowledge. Today’s students are rather tech-savvy compared to the earlier generations. They should thoroughly use the vast amount of knowledge available online, but again, scrutinize the source of information before following it blindly.


Message for young aspiring Indian sports physiotherapists?

I strongly suggest fellow physios to explore the educational world abroad as they are currently much more advanced when it comes to education in sports science.

Physios have become an inevitable part of sporting teams.

I would like to request the physio community to get more global in their approach towards clients and athletes. Be more accountable and adapt to modern ways of treatments and follow better documentation systems and spared physiotherapy knowledge. Sports Physio services are beyond applying ice, giving rubs and unnecessary rests to players. One has to retrospect their decisions and management strategies at every stage and every day.

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