Starting her position as the Head Physiotherapist for WRU women’s squad last year, Jo Perkins has had an impressive career since her graduation from Cardiff University nearly 10 years ago. Having her second child highlighted the lack of female specific health support for women postpartum, leading to her career focus on all aspects of female health and sports medicine. Since leaving her eight-season career at the Scarlets, she has seen WRU women’s team lead the tech revolution in menstrual cycle tracking, partnerships with period underwear brand WUKA and help break taboos among pelvic floor issues. During her role the team has had great success, finishing third in this year’s six nations and becoming 6th in the world – the Welsh women’s squads highest ever ranking! We were lucky enough to catch up with Jo to ask her all of our burning questions surrounding her career.
We’re curious, what sparked your interest in physiotherapy?
“I was lucky I knew what I wanted to do from a very young age. I always enjoyed playing sports and I remember seeing a physio myself as a teenager and ever since, I knew the career path I wanted to take.”
You have worked in the field for over 10 years. Have you always enjoyed watching and playing rugby?
“I have loved watching rugby since coming to Cardiff to study in 2002. There is nowhere better than Cardiff on an international fixture day. I love seeing all the players I have previously worked with!”
Do you have an earliest memory of going to a live sporting event, or playing a sport?
“Funnily enough, basketball was always my sport, not rugby. I was lucky enough to have travelled all over the world playing basketball at both the national club level and for Wales. I’ve watched a few NBA games, but my most memorable would be watching the Harlem Globetrotters at Madison Square Gardens.”
You’ve had a very impressive career, can you tell us about some of your proudest and most memorable moments?
“For eight years I was lucky enough to have worked at the Scarlets where I witnessed the team having incredible successes. They won the league and got through to the semi-finals of European competitions. Being a part of that was amazing and something I’ll always remember. However, my proudest moment would be part of the rise of professionalism for the women’s game, allowing me to work with a fantastic group of players and staff.”
Can you tell us whether you think the industry has changed and how it is changing?
“The sporting industry is always changing. Women now have more exposure in the media and are rightly being given more equal opportunities, resources, and investment from governing bodies. A light is being shone on female health and the industry is now researching issues such as pelvic health, menstrual cycle support and injury prevention, allowing women to train and perform at their best.”
Do you think people should incorporate sports into their day-to-day lives more?
“Exercise is undoubtedly essential for us all and has huge health benefits, whatever form that looks like. The main thing is to find something that is enjoyable so you can stick to it.”
What is some advice you would give people to prevent injury in sports?
“Injury prevention is multifactorial but there are some basic things you can do to minimise injury risk including; strength work with good form, mobility exercises, and ensuring you have a good balance between training volume and nutritional intake.”
Go check out Jo’s Instagram to find out more information about female health support in sport @joperkinsphysio