Gary Lewin is one of the most recognisable faces in the Premiership. The longest-serving Chartered Physiotherapist in the Premiership, and Chief Physiotherapist for both the Arsenal and England squads. PhysioRoom.com caught up with Gary, who kindly took time out of his hectic schedule, to talk to us about his work at the top, the game in general and dirty shorts!
Name: Gary Lewin
Where did you train and when?
“Guy’s Hospital School of Physiotherapy, London. 1983 to 1986.”
Have you completed any other courses that are relevant to treating sports injuries?
“First Aid in Sport, manipulation courses, plus numerous post-graduate lectures.”
How long have you worked in professional football?
“Fifteen years as a physiotherapist.”
Where did you work before getting a job in professional football?
“I was an apprentice professional goalkeeper with Arsenal between 1980 and 1982, before playing at Barnet FC for one year, and training as a physiotherapist from 1983 to 1986.”
The pace of Premiership matches seems to get faster each season. Do you think this has had an effect on the frequency and type of injuries that you treat?
“It has definitely got faster and the players now are much more athletic. The diagnosis of injuries has become better and so injuries are being dealt with more accurately and quickly. The incidence of injury may not have changed but the squads are much larger than they used to be and so players can be rested from competition when necessary, thus preventing more injuries.”
With international tournaments and competitions, like the Intertoto Cup, the top players are playing virtually all year. Do you think the Premiership should consist of fewer teams and incorporate a winter break like the rest of Europe?
“Yes. The league needs to be reduced and I think a winter break is vital, particularly for international players.”
How do you overcome the communication difficulties when treating some of the foreign players who don’t speak much English?
“We work with interpreters from the day they sign and we both improve our language skills!”
New laws over the past few years have targetted dangerous play such as the tackle from behind. From a physios point of view what one thing about the game would you like to see changed?
“One rule which would help is being able to replace a player with a cut with a temporary substitute, giving the medical team suitable time to assess and stitch the wound.”
What’s the worst injury you’ve had to deal with on the pitch?
“The worst was a compound fracture of the tibia and fibula. But the scariest was a player who was unconscious and had a blocked airway.”
And the funniest incident?
“During a match which we won 9-0 our goalkeeper had to make a save. He started waving at me and limping. I sprinted around the pitch, only for him to shout – “I’ve only gone and got my shorts dirty!”