Isokinetic Football Medicine Conference 2019: reflections from an early career physiotherapist aspiring for a career in SEM

The Gait Way to Sport and Exercise Medicine – a BJSM blog series 

By Connie Briggs @conniebriggspt

Yes: I attended the Isokinetic Conference this year, worked with the SoMe team (short for social media – yes, I did learn that expression there!), and I had a blast.

Figure 1: Members of the SoMe team!

The theme this year was “Football Medicine Meets the Universe of Sport”. As an early career physiotherapist, passionately pursuing a career in SEM, the weekend was an educational dream (with icing and sprinkles on top)! Talks by experts in the field, poster competitions, and importantly I had the opportunity to connect with other professionals in SEM. It was so inspiring to see so many other young professionals attend and present at the event. The average age being 30!

My Favourite Talks

Warning: my top choices may have been influenced by my background as an elite gymnast, with personal interests in female athlete health and also as an advocate for #WomenInSport! Here’s a few of the take home points from my favourite sessions:

1. Injury prevention in women

  • @GeertsemaC from @Aspetar called for change! Women participants are completely underrepresented in sports and football medicine research.
  • Females represented in football research articles last year: 25% in the American Journal of Sports Medicine (AJSM), 14% in BJSM, and an astonishing 0% in Sports Medicine.
  • @doclsmack: women who play sports are more likely to become leaders! In 2017, EY surveyed 821 high level executives and found that a whopping 90% of women played competitive sports in high school or college. Among women currently holding a CEO/COO/CIO position, this was 96%!

Follow the #FFMEDWMN hashtag for a preview of the conference discussions!

2. Sport specific rehabilitation: targeting the last phase of recovery

  • @m_buckthorpe discussed the importance of developing chronic training load when rehabilitating athletes over the course of Return to Play (RTP)
  • Bridging the gap between rehab and performance is key!
  • Prepare for sport consists of neuromuscular performance, movement quality and sport-specific readiness
  • The cross over from rehabilitation to performance phase: on field rehab → return to train → return to play → return to performance
  • On field rehab stages of rehab:
    1. Linear movements
    2. Multi-directional movement
    3. Re-active movement and sport ‘technique’
    4. Sport-specific movement and skill restoration
    5. Training simulation and fitness
  • On-field rehab progression considerations:
    1. Movement quality
    2. Physical conditioning
    3. Sport-specific skills
    4. Training load
3. Learning from Running

Chris Powers:

  • There is a distinct difference in patellofemoral tracking in open chain and closed chain movements. In weight bearing it is the femur internally rotating NOT the patella moving out of the trochlea!
  • Runners who are weaker at the hip extensors and who run upright play greater demand on the knee joint which can lead to PFP. By increasing hip flexion and trunk forward stress on the PFJ can be reduced.
4. Making tendons great again!

@rich_clark_  on tendon rehabilitation/management from a dance perspective:

Football has so much to learn from aesthetic sports!

  • Load management is key, especially leading up to big performances/events. The athlete is NOT not going to perform. Focus needs to be on controlling the load and symptoms around the performance time.
  • It is important to keep athletes involved in sport to prevent kinesiophobia and identity loss.
  • Essential to consider landing biomechanics and foot intrinsics – something often forgotten in other sports!
5. Nutrition for athletic development and performance
  • There are few things you can directly control in sports and what you eat is crucial! @JamesyMorton
  • If you are working in elite sport, you MUST know and understand RED-S @TStellingwerff (
Advice to fellow young professionals interested in SEM

My friends pursuing other vocations often make jokes at my expense….“You have 3049 jobs”, “I don’t even know what city you live in these days”.

One thing you realise when trying to gain exposure to SEM; one door seems to open another! I’m not saying that working more than one job and taking on multiple volunteering positions is for everybody; you may need to add an element of crazy to your character, but Alice (in Wonderland) did teach us that all the best people are ;-). Maybe it’s a way of retaining my self-identity to being affiliated with sports, or my perfectionist nature, but it’s the inspiring people I’ve met that have strengthened my ambition to work within the world of SEM. And, this view was certainly reaffirmed at the conference. Being my first large conference, I felt like a tiny fish in a VERY big pond (amongst some very big sharks). The environment was extremely welcoming to young early career professionals and it felt like a COMMUNITY. The inclusivity offered to other early career professionals was so refreshing to experience, and most definitely something I aspire to be a part of and contribute to!

To any young SEM professionals wanting to experience conferences, such as @footballmed, my advice would be JUST DO IT! The chance to learn, be inspired and connect with other SEM professionals should not be missed. I already can’t wait for Lyon 2020!!

P.S. A big shout out and thank you to the social media team I had the opportunity of working with! Go ahead and follow @BJSMPlus and @footballmed to catch up on the conference tweets.


Connie Briggs BSc MCSP HCPC @conniebriggspt is a physiotherapist currently working in musculoskeletal outpatients at the University College London Hospital and as an academy physiotherapist at West Ham United Football Club. Connie is the former physiotherapy representative at the University of Manchester Sports and Exercise Medicine Society (@SEMSocUK) and member of the organising committee for the USEMS National Student Sports Medicine Conference 2016.

Tej Pandya @PandyaTej is a medical student at the University of Manchester and co-ordinator of a new BJSM blog series aimed at undergraduates and recently qualified doctors. If you wish to contribute, please email him at 

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