Any athlete who is forced to miss games or practices because they are recovering from an injury or surgery will tell you how badly they want to get back on the field with their teammates. And while this desire to return as soon as possible to be there for your teammates is admirable, we can’t overlook the obstacles we face in order to make a safe and healthy transition back to sport. In today’s blog, we take a closer look at what to expect as you work to return to sport after an injury or surgery.
Returning To Athletics After Injury
If you really want to ensure you return to sport at a high level of fitness and endurance, and with a decreased chance of reinjury, you can’t just sit on the sidelines while your body works to heal. You need to be active in your recovery and beware of certain obstacles to successful rehabilitation. Here’s some ways to get back to sporting activities without a setback following an injury or surgery.
- Take It Slow – Make sure you give your body plenty of time to heal and that you don’t rush back to athletics before you are healed. Missing one or two more games to get back to full health is much preferred to returning early and being less than 100 percent, or worse, suffering a setback because your body wasn’t yet ready for that level of activity. Be slow and deliberate with your recovery and listen to your body as you work towards a return to sport.
- Consult An Expert – If you really want to do everything you can to ensure a speedy and thorough recovery, connect with an expert like a physical therapist. Not only can a physical therapist help the injury heal and strengthen nearby structures, but we can also develop a rehabilitation program that takes into account the physical demands of the sport you play. Most of our therapists were multi-sport athletes when they were younger, so they have first-hand knowledge of the movements and forces at play. This helps them develop strengthening programs that target some of the most used muscle groups and ensure that you are in fact healthy enough to return to sport.
- Build Your Conditioning – If any injury or surgery has made it harder for you to get regular exercise, you may be surprised at how much your conditioning and endurance falls off as you work to recover. This is especially true if you’re nursing a lower body injury that prevents you from running or limits your aerobic exercise. If you want to return to sport at the top of your game, you can’t just focus on the injury – you need to make sure your body can handle the demands of the sport. That includes increasing your endurance and conditioning so that you don’t get fatigued upon return, which can increase your chance of injury.
- Ease Back Into It – Finally, when you’ve been granted clearance to return to sport, don’t just assume you’ll be able to play the same amount as normal right away. Ease back into activity at practice and build your conditioning in non-game situations, or slowly increase your workload over time. If you used to run five miles, but then you suffered a severe ankle sprain, don’t assume your first run once you’ve recovered will be five miles. Go for a much shorter run and see how your body and ankle responds before slowly increasing your time and distance. The same thought process applies for athletes in organized sports like soccer or basketball. If you find that your injury can handle what you throw at it, you can start to increase your workload.
If you want help returning to a specific sport after injury, or you want to take your game to the next level by working with a PT to develop an individualized strength training routine, reach out to the team at OrthoRehab Specialists today.