We spoke to Jessica Parry-Williams about her role within Welsh Triathlon and the Commonwealth Games
In less than 2 weeks the Gold Coast Commonwelath Games (CWG) will be taking place.
The athletes, staff and support staff have flown out to Noosa, Sunshine Coast for final preparations before moving to the athletes village, Gold Coast for the start of the games in April. Included in the Support team is Jessica Parry-Williams a Physiotherapist who is heaviliy invloved in supporting the athletes in Australia and back here in Wales.
We asked Jess some questions around her role as Lead Physiotherapist for Welsh Triathlon
What is your role within the Welsh Triathlon Support Team
I am the lead physiotherapist working with Welsh Triathlon, this encompasses supporting both the Performance Pathway for youth and junior athletes and the National Triathlon Performance Centre for senior athletes.
I am a passionate physiotherapist and see great value in injury prevention and performance optimisation of young athletes. I feel that the youth athletes of today if educated and nurtured will make far more well informed, robust and resilient athletes of the future. This will ultimately lead to greater depth of high performing Welsh athletes in the future. I took an opportunity to work with the youth and junior squad on camps providing educational sessions on injury prevention, flexibility and recovery. From this further opportunities arose to begin working with the National Triathlon Performance Centre Senior squad.
How does working for an NGB compare to other physiotherapy work you have been involved in?
My background at a physiotherapist is largely within the NHS. Working as an Advanced Physiotherapy Practitioner within Orthopaedics, A&E and leading advanced lower limb rehabilitation. This role lends itself well to working with Elite and Development athletes as I have a strong background in assessment of acute injuries and initial management. Additionally, my background in advanced rehabilitation has allowed me to be skilled in returning athletes to training and racing. This along with my background as a runner and triathlete enables me to understand what is required to perform to a high level, and understand the fundamental skills involved in swim/bike/run and the strategies you must implement to prevent injuries.
There is a clear difference between elite/high performing athletes when compared to recreational athletes; elite and high performing athletes have a drive and passion to be the best they can be and with this in mind fully commit to flexibility and strength programmes in addition to their training plans, resulting much quicker performance changes than I am use to seeing. This is very exciting, inspiring and motivating to see. Additionally, I have loved the opportunity to work with very experienced coaches and S&C practitioners, learning from them on a daily basis and working closely as a team to develop Welsh Triathlon athletes.
What makes you so passionate about Triathlon?
I love Triathlon as a sport as it pushes you to your limits. The athletes I work with are fully commited and highly motivated to carry out high volumes of training and warmly welcome the contribution myself and the S&C coach provide to injury prevention, management and performance optimization. Welsh and British Triathlon are forward thinking and innovative, they are keen to understand and develop an athlete as a person as well as from a performance level. They are developing intelligent athletes who are well informed to make decisions surrounding training and racing.
How do you respond when an athlete comes to you with an injury?
I bring the best version of my physiotherapist self to the conversation. Listen to the story with an equiring and analytical mind. I have discussions with the S&C coach and the head coach to identify if there are any contributing factors that they may be aware of that resulted in the injury. I explore with the athlete their other stressors in life in addition to their triathlon. I am supportive and encouraging but honest and realistic to both athlete and coach.
How much time do you spend with the athletes within the NTPCW?
We work together as coach, S&C and physio team every Friday afternoon, however if an athlete needs to see me more urgently I ensure I am available to see them or discuss via facetime/telephone remotely.
What are you looking forward to most about your role as physiotherapist for Welsh Triathlon for the CWG?
I am excited to learning from and working with the athletes and coaches on a daily basis, observing them in their training environment. This will enable me to better understand the technical qualities required to optimise performance in order that the support I provide is better informed. Having the opportunity to analyse their swim/bike/run technique and intergrate this with the knowledge I have of their range of movement, muscle strength and weaknesses in the treatment room will give a more wholeistic approach to my interventions.
When you are not supporting the CWG athletes, how else do you support the Welsh Triathlon Performance Team?
I have contributed to several Welsh development youth and junior academy camps and British development academy camps. Within this I have provided educational sessions around head injuries, dynamic warm ups before exercise, stretching and recovery sessions, supported Strength & Conditioning sessions in addition to managing injury and illness.
What is the key to keeping your body in good shape for Triathlon?
The volume of training in triathlon is quite high, and it can be difficult for those working full time to fit strength and conditioning and stretching into their training time table. Try to simply spend 5 minutes doing a dynamic warm up before you train whether that is pool side or on the run track, you will feel a positive difference in your ability to perform during your session. Spend 10 minutes doing sustained stretching of the major muscle groups that you have used at the end of the session, this will help you recover better and prevent the development of any tight areas which could effect your movement and ultimately risk of injury. It is important to fit in 2-3 strengthening or conditioning/core stability sessions a week, this will also limit injury risk. If you have little time, it would be wise to drop a swim/bike or run session to make way for these sessions.
The Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony takes place on April 4th 2018