Health Tips

Sports Injury Rehabilitation

January 26, 2016

All musculoskeletal injuries need active rehabilitation to enable the sports person to return to full function as soon as possible.   Otherwise there is a likelihood of re-injury of the affected area or injury to another part of the body. So whether you are a recreational sports person, a school student injured on the field or a professional athlete you will need an individual rehabilitation programme.

The initial phase of pain, inflammation and swelling requires rest, ice, electrotherapeutic agents and perhaps anti-inflammatory medication.

Then the important aspects of the rehabilitation phase are:

  • Muscle Conditioning – After injury or surgery, muscles rapidly weaken, as an example the quadriceps muscle of the thigh will waste after a knee injury and therefore the support of the joint will be reduced.  If there is lumbar spine pain, the stabilizing muscles or ‘core’ muscles will become weak, so specific training of these muscles is important.   As muscles are re-activated, varying aspects such as power and endurance will need to be addressed with different exercises.
  • Flexibility – Full range of movement of the joints, muscles and tendons must be regained after injury.  Joint mobilization techniques used by your physiotherapist will be helpful, as will graduated stretching of soft tissues.
  • Balance and Proprioception – After injury, the processing of information via the nerves around the joints and muscles and tendons becomes altered.  This results in reduced co-ordination and balance.  So various exercises, in weight-bearing will help regain balance. Simply standing evenly on both legs may be the starting point and gradually progress to single leg balance and on to more advanced skills.
  • Functional Exercises – Basic functional activities such as walking, moving from sitting to standing, squatting or rising onto the toes are early tasks to achieve.  These will be progressed to include strength, power, endurance and agility exercises.
  • Sports Skills – Gradual preparation for return to sport must include specific activities that the sport requires, such as ball skills for the footballer or racquet skills for the tennis player.  Correct technique will help prevent further injuries.