Injury rehabilitation is a complex process that requires a team approach for a successful return to competition. It involves five distinct phases: managing pain and swelling, restoring range of motion, regaining strength, increasing fitness, and controlling abuse. Each phase has its own set of objectives and goals that must be met in order to ensure a safe and effective recovery. The first phase of injury rehabilitation is to manage pain and swelling.
This is done by performing gentle exercises with soft tissue and with a smooth range of motion, so as not to spread the injury or worsen it. Flexibility exercises can also help prevent the long-term effects of decreased range of motion or function. Small weights can be used during exercises if it's safe to do so, but more intensive strength training is not recommended at this time. The second phase of injury rehabilitation is to restore range of motion (ROM).
The main goal of this stage is to smoothly return the body to pre-injury levels of ROM or as close to pre-injury levels as possible. Resting during the recovery phase can cause muscle atrophy or wasting, leading to weakness and loss of endurance. Therefore, it is important to perform exercises that will help maintain muscle strength and endurance. The third phase of injury rehabilitation is to regain strength.
This is done by using weight machines to perform strength training safely and precisely, while reducing the risk of aggravating injuries or risking new ones. Objective measures of muscle weakness and atrophy are usually seen after injury and surgery within 4 to 6 weeks, so minimizing muscle loss and strength deficits are important rehabilitation goals set out in your physical therapy program. The fourth phase of injury rehabilitation is to increase fitness. This includes restoring coordination and balance, improving speed, agility and sport-specific skills, moving from simple to complex activities.
When sports injuries prevent participation in training and playing time for an extended period, it's important to maintain cardiovascular endurance. The physical therapist is usually the professional in charge of this phase, although the process can be initiated by a doctor. The fifth phase of injury rehabilitation is to control abuse. This involves limiting disability and recovering from functional losses by abstaining or modifying the athlete's exposure to harmful activity. Your physical therapist or sports medicine doctor should be able to advise you on how to prevent future injuries. When it comes to sports injuries, it's important to have a team approach for a successful return to competition.
A lack of communication between medical providers, strength and conditioning specialists, and team coaches can delay or prevent athletes from regaining their maximum capacity and increase the risk of new injuries and of reinjuring themselves even more devastatingly. At iHealthspot in O'Fallon, MO, we understand the importance of proper injury rehabilitation. Our team of physical therapists are professionals in sports injuries and orthopedic rehabilitation and are specifically trained to enable you to move again and maximize performance levels after an injury.