Returning to Play After Injury

physiotherapy for injured athletes

Injuries are common in athletes who participate in sports. Whether a minor or a serious one, if it affects performance, injuries can cause frustration. However, stopping sporting activities can be more frustrating, especially if you enjoy it so much.

Healing doesn’t happen overnight. Recovery is a complex and dynamic process of replacing devitalised and missing cellular structures and missing layers. It takes significant amount of time and care to be able to return to play after injury.

Phases of Recovery

Whatever the injury, there are three basic phases to return yourself to your state before injury: The acute – protection phase, repair phase, and remodeling phase. You may get through these phases quickly for minor problems or it may take months for severe injury.

Acute – Protection Phase

An injury is termed as acute from the initial time of injury and while the pain, bleeding and swelling is at its worst. At this point, your body’s aim is to protect your injury from further damage. Most often, it takes 2 to 4 days for your acute symptoms to settle, yet can vary depending on how injury is treated.

Repair Phase

This is when the inflammation has gone down and your body starts to repair the injured area. Your body will begin to lay down collagen to replace the damaged tissue. This process may take 3 days to 6 weeks after the injury. The structure of the collagen is unorganised at this point.

Remodelling Phase

This is the final phase and occurs once the wound has closed. Collagen and remodeling initiate. With maturity, the collagen remodels becoming more obviously oriented in line with local stresses. Cellular activity reduces and the number of blood vessels in the wounded area regress and decrease.

Psychological Responses

Experts say that positive psychological responses are associated with a higher rate of return to sport after injury.

Once they are cleared physically, most athletes have no issues returning the sport arena. However, some athletes may be ready physically, but are not prepared mentally. Lack of mental preparation could result in decreased confidence leading to a decline in performance, re-injury or further injury, feeling of stress and anxiety due to lack of confidence in their physical condition, and fear of injury and fear of returning to play.

Factors to Consider for Safe Return to Sports

The main key considerations for someone to return to sport are to be able to perform sport-specific skills and return to training in a pain-free state. Factors to consider safe return to sports include the following:
• You are pain-free
• You have no swelling
• You have full range of motion
• You have full or at least 90% strength
• You are able to perform full weight-bearing on injured hips, knees and ankles without limping
• You can perform throwing movements with proper form and no pain

Take It Easy

If you are able to begin performing movements and actions involved in your sport, start slowly. Before going full force, take part in the sport at a less intense level. Notice how you feel that night and the next day before you slowly increase the force and intensity of your movements.

It helps to seek help of a Perth physiotherapist near you. Physiotherapy helps speed recovery process using hands on treatment techniques, electrical modalities and exercises. When you can safely resume sporting activity will be determined by your physiotherapist.

Got injured from your play? Call i Physio Perth at (08) 9444 8729 today!