Jumper’s knee, finger jams and ankle sprains – all in a day’s work for Manchester Giants’ sports therapist

Exclusive by Phil Jones

Basketball, supposedly non-contact, with its flying elbows and high-impact nature, is one of the most physically taxing sports on a body.

This makes the life of Manchester Giants’ own sports therapist, Nick McCarthy, a rather hectic one.

But with the Giants having a weekend away from BBL action, McCarthy spoke to MM about soothing the aches and pains of a professional athlete.

“My most regular patient is Dave Aliu, not from an injury point of view but just more of a maintenance thing – keeping himself on the court,” said the 30-year-old.

“I’ve known him for three years now with two teams so we’ve got a good relationship.

“He knows what he needs and he knows what his body needs, he looks after himself well.”

As a sports therapist McCarthy specialises in sports injuries and has worked in the BBL for the past two years with Giants’ North West rivals Mersey Tigers.

Along with Aliu, four other players on the Giants roster used to play for Tigers, meaning Nick had a head start on assessing the job at hand.

“It helps already knowing some of the team, you know the way they are, their personality, how you can approach them and all their pre-existing problems,” he added.

“You know what their normal is, and if you know that then you can see where they can improve.”

With basketball’s dynamic nature injuries are inevitable, but McCarthy does his best to stop them occurring in the first place.

“My role covers a lot of ‘prehab’ conditioning, making sure there are no injury problems that are going to occur,” said the childhood Giants fan.

“That means we stop them from getting injured rather than treating injury itself.

“We have to make sure the guys are moving well, their joints are moving well, their muscles are loose.

“That includes a lot of massage work before and after training, then a lot of knee icing and whatever else they need to stay pain free.”

Knee issues are common in such a high-impact sport, but they are not the most regular problem McCarthy has to cope with.

“Your usual injuries are ankle sprains, or finger jams and pops – they’re the biggest ones,” said the Preston resident.

“As you see more veteran players you see something called jumper’s knee, which is patella-tendonitis, quite a lot as well.

“As players get older and further into their careers things can kind of snowball.”

While the Giants squad is relatively young, recently departed veteran Nick George posed a challenge to McCarthy upon arrival at the club.

“When Nick got here he wasn’t really ready to be on the court so we worked with him behind the scenes and got him into ‘able to play’ shape,” said McCarthy.

“But once we got a few games under his belt those injuries were decreasing somewhat – they’re still apparent but he was getting stronger and stronger every game.”

George decided to leave Manchester when his short-term contract expired last month, but McCarthy is confident the 30-year-old can prolong his career.

“He’s a pro, he’s played the game long enough and knows what he’s doing,” he added.

“Occasionally you’d see him working on himself, but he knows specifically what he needs to do so sometimes I just had to back off and leave him to it.”

The Giants resume their hunt for a BBL play-off spot against table-toppers Leicester Riders on Friday at Wright Robinson Sports College, tip at 7.30pm.

Picture courtesy of Jack Hinds Photography, with thanks

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