Use of shockwave therapy in sports

IMG 1934 fill 325x217Are you active or recreational athlete? Do you feel pain reguarly and directly in a specific muscle? Did you pull or rupture your muscle? In the following article we will try explain this topic, which we based on the research of a german doctor Silke Helfmeyer.


Sport injury or acute overloading is very often caused by wrong tension (and thus also restricted flexibility) of the muscle fibres. These fibres are not able to deal with the pressure and they end up being pulled or injured. That can limit the athlete to such a degree, that he is forced to immediately end with every physical activity or significantly reduce the performance and intensity. If this signaling function is not dealt with, it can lead in further physical activity to complete distortion of the muscle structure, in a form of tear in the muscle fibres, or to a complete tear of a complete tear of the muscle in the area where it continues as a tendon. Typical example are muscles being torn in the area where they are transforming into a tendon. Typical example is a lost elasticity of the calf muscles in sports, where you need to sprint and suddenly stop (tennis, volleyball, handball, etc…). We often see the results of such overload, inflammatory disorders of the Achilles tendon (Achillodynia,  tendinopathy), which can result in torn Achilles tendon, but because the inflammation significantly restricts the flexibility of the tendon. As another example we can mention the attachment pain in the groin area, where inflammation occurs frequently as a result of overloading in the area of the adductors of the hip joint by their attachment to the pubis bone.


From our experience and numbers of doctor Helfmeyer, it is proved that combination of focused shockwave therapy and radial shockwave therapy with machines DUOLITH ® is very effective and fast. Doctor Helfmeyer had during the treatment of the athletes from various different sport fields and age groups, focused on combination of focused (ESWT) and radial (RWT) shock wave. Her clients got to the highest performance of the device after 3 - 4 sessions.

What does the process of the therapy look like?

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At first, it is important to examine and identify the responsible trigger points in the muscle. These trigger points (bunch of hyperactive fibres in the muscle) are ideally treated first with manual technique performed by a physiotherapist and afterwards it is optimal to apply focused shockwave therapy, which directly affects the trigger points. This way we treat all the trigger points. For the best results it is very important to apply after the focused shock wave, the radial shock wave. Radial shockwave therapy is also used on trigger points and thanks to its diverging beam it can at the same time treat the painful surrounding of the trigger point. Radial shock wave can also cure the fascia, which is thanks to the overloaded or shortened muscles less mobile and contracted, and therefore it restricts the muscle to perform normally. Because the fascia and muscle are essentially functionally connected, it is very important to treat them both to set up harmonical tension between them, removing pain which returns it back to normal function of the muscle. For the best possible treatment, it is very ideal to relieve the muscles after the therapy with a vibrational headpiece V-Actor.

After few years of experience of using the combined shockwave therapy, doctor Helfmeyer describes nearly 3500 cases of treated athletes, she notes that after first treatment the pain significantly subdued , which was also stated by nearly all treated athletes, and improvement in the movement range of a certain joint was also essential.


In order to secure permanent success, without the problem returning back, it is ideal to combine the shockwave therapy along with physiotherapy. Based on the found functional insufficiencies during entry examination we choose the optional exercise, which leads to quality performed physical movement. The goal is to re-learn the incorrect movement to a correctly performed movement and with that prevent further overloading of certain muscle group. For renewal of the correct performance of the movement stereotype can kinesio tape (elastic cotton band) help us to affect the muscle tension and it helps the athlete to get to a correct movement.

 Mgr. Iva Bílková, FYZIOklinika fyzioterapie Ltd, Prague, Czech Republic

Source: Silke Helfmeyer, “Kombinierte Stosswellentherapie. Das Ziel: Schnell wieder die volle Sportfähigkeit herstellen”, Medicalsports network 01/10

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