Sports injuries can be as mild as a sprain or as severe as a dislocation or bone break. Whether you require surgery and how long you are prescribed to rest can affect how quickly you get back in the game. If you have recently suffered from a sports injury, it’s important to understand the four stages of sports injury physiotherapy and rehabilitation. Without physiotherapy, you risk re-injuring the area and could lose some of your strength and mobility. Here’s what you need to know about each of the four stages.
The first stage of recovery is to minimize further damage by allowing the body to rest and begin the healing process. After an injury, the body’s first response is inflammation and pain. The better you can reduce the inflammation and swelling, control pain, and protect the injured body part, the better you can avoid further damage. Resting and protecting the injured site is important as the body needs to repair the area internally. During this stage, you may need to use cold packs, a protective cast/sling/tape and take some form of painkiller or anti-inflammatory medication.
Early in the rehabilitation process, your physiotherapist will seek to isolate the injured area through various techniques. They may require you to use machine weights to test and improve the structural characteristics of the injured area and speed up the healing process. Recovery at this stage is extremely important, and no pain should be experienced during activities. In addition to these exercises, cardiovascular activities may also be used. If your injury or surgery has put you out for a prolonged period, your physiotherapist may begin with light aerobic activities such as walking or light running, gradually progressing the duration and intensity overtime. Specific activities to recondition the injured area will eventually be incorporated into the program.
Once you can move the injured area without pain, the next step is to recover your strength. Most people are surprised to find that the recovery period results in muscle weakness and loss of endurance or mobility. Minimalizing muscle loss and strength deficits are important goals that your physiotherapist will have for you. Strength training exercises that also combine cardiovascular endurance such as stationary cycling, pool exercises, or resistance training may be recommended. These exercises will be designed to minimize aggravation, maintain good form and proper technique, and strengthen the local, regional, and central muscle groups.
The final stage of rehabilitation is to transition back into your normal routine. Once you can perform all the specific activities and movements that your physiotherapist has planned for you, the next step is to integrate back into your regular lifestyle. If your injury was sports-related, you may be asked to participate in warmups with your sports team, and eventually return to training and competitive games if there are no physical limitations. It is extremely important to be mindful of how hard you push yourself in this stage. Although you may be mentally in “game mode,” there is a higher risk of re-injuring the area if you aren’t careful.
At MedRehab Group, our physiotherapists will provide the care and guidance you need to heal from your sports injuries. If you are located in the Greater Toronto Area, visit our clinic for a consultation with one of our physiotherapists and get the program you need to heal and get back in the game. Contact us at 1-888-409-4058 to book your appointment and learn more about us.
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