OFF THE COURT TALKS – Karlo Sporer: “Physiotheraphy is an interesting job that brings a lot of great things”

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OFF THE COURT TALKS – Karlo Sporer: “Physiotheraphy is an interesting job that brings a lot of great things”




The next guest of our ‘’Off the court talks’’ is Karlo Sporer, a physiotherapist who is working in the handball and taekwondo world. Besides, talking about his sports studio, experience with the national team, and work with professional athletes from various sports disciplines, he also emphasized the importance of injury prevention and additional education. Croatian handball junior national team physiotherapist is the next guest of the interview series powered by Namman Muay. It is time to meet him!

Since you are working as a physiotherapist for a long time, was physiotherapy your first choice?

Well, it was my wish and kind of my first choice. But, during the time I had to choose my profession I played football at the junior semi professional level and physiotherapist high school at the time had a program in which you practice work in the morning and school in the afternoon. So I went in another direction. However, after I finished high school I took a year off and decided to go back to my previous wish – physiotherapy. After my first year of college, I realized that this was what I wanted and that it was a good move for me to get back to it.

Can you describe your typical workday?

Every day is more or less the same. In the morning I work with the patients who can’t come to the studio so I am working with them in their home. After that, around 3 to 4 PM I work with the people who are coming to the studio after they finish their work. My workday is over around 10 or 11 PM when I finish working with the professional athletes who are coming to the studio after their obligations in their clubs. So, basically my whole day is filled.

You have your own physio studio, but you are also working as a physiotherapist for the Croatian junior national team. What is the difference between your working day in the studio and when you are with the national team?

There is no such pressure when I am in the studio. It is different, appointments are arranged in agreement with people who are amateurs, and mostly we are doing massage, therapy, and exercises. With the national team, everything is done at a higher level. Everything requires accuracy and must be solved as soon as possible and in the best possible way. It is all planned in a second so that all the players are able to continue training and competition as soon as possible.

You mentioned that you work with both amateurs and professional athletes, is there any difference between amateur and professional athletes?

Professionals take it much more seriously and often practice therapies twice a day because it is urgent for them to recover as soon as possible. Amateurs even reduce therapies to a minimum. Their main goal is to recover for normal daily functioning and not for something more. They sometimes even don’t finish the therapy cycle which is essential for a full recovery and let it heal over time and on its own.

Regarding the injuries in amateur and professional athletes, what are the most common ones?

When it comes to amateurs, some recreational or semi-recreational athletes, people who play sport once a week or people who ski during the winter period, the most common injuries are muscle cracking, knee and shoulder injuries, and all kinds of fractures. In professional sport, the most common injuries are joint distortions and the rupture of the anterior cruciate ligaments which is increasingly becoming the most common problem among younger and older athletes.

You are working with handball players, can you tell us what are the most common injuries in handball?

When it comes to handball players, the most common injuries are shoulder injuries, ankle distortions, tendon ligament damage, and injuries of the anterior cruciate ligaments and meniscus of the knee.

What is the most important thing for injury prevention? Is injury prevention possible?

It is possible, but the main problem is that many clubs don’t have a physiotherapist or an educated fitness trainer to work with athletes before and after the training process. Before the training, it is important to prepare athletes with the proper warm-up exercises. After the training do the stretching exercises to cool the muscles and to finish the whole training process. We are trying to implement this procedure on the national team level and it is going very well.  In most clubs it is not done that way and at that level which causes way more injuries.

Which techniques are most commonly used in the therapy of an injured handball player?

It depends on the physiotherapist and what does he or she like. From classic things which are done in physical therapy like lasers, magnets, ultrasounds, electricity, and magnets to manual therapy and chiropractic as well.

And what about creams and supplements, what are the most common in sports general?

Athletes use a lot of it. They often practice a Glucosamine diet that helps in protecting the cartilage and joints. Also, they are using creams when they have problems with various hematomas. The rest of the supplements are more based on muscle development and muscle strength.

You mentioned that you played football, do you work with football players?

We also work with football players and we work privately with athletes from all sports, mostly with some taekwondo clubs, football, basketball, and handball players.   Basically, every athlete is welcome. Also, we are working with some very young athletes, these are children that have 11-14  years and who have very serious injuries that should not happen. If we go back 10-15 years when we were in those years we can remember that we didn’t know what the injuries were, especially such serious injuries. In my opinion, in Croatia the sports community should be working on the injury prevention and should thrive to rise it to a certain level.

Why do you think why injuries are more frequent and serious in young people?

Because financial questions are becoming more and more important in children’s sports. From the youngest age, they are being forced to train five to six times a week, play matches at the weekends, and some of them even are even forced to train two to three sports at the same time. So we can conclude that this is 10 to 12 hours of training and matches through week. I had a situation where athletes train both football, athletics and some other martial arts. Unfortunately, they have to decide on one sport because it is impossible to train all three sports at the same time. Sports are good for children, but all should be moderately dosed.

Among all the work, what do you like to do in your free time?

There is little free time, but most of my free time I am spending with my child. Also, I like to escape to nature and enjoy some fishing, to get a little head rest.

Which advice would you give to all young and future physiotherapists?

My advice is to be persistent and to educate themselves because additional education is very important in our job. It is an interesting job that brings a lot of great things, but on a more serious level, it brings a lot of stress that you need to know how to deal with, so be prepared for that.