Sport Injury Rehab – Karp Physiotherapy
Have you ever been injured while playing a sport? It can be very frustrating because all that we want to do is play the sport and have fun. Often we are overeager to get back to playing sport and we have not fully recovered from the injury, which can worsen the problem. Seeking advice and doing rehabilitation after an injury can not only help you get back on the field, ice, court or pitch faster, but it can also help you prevent making your injury worse or having another injury. The earlier you seek help, the sooner you will be back playing your sport.
There are two stages that I would like to highlight for sport injury rehabilitation; the rehabilitation stage and the injury prevention stage.
In the rehabilitation stage, you will progress from the acute stages of the injury to feeling back to normal. The timeline for recovery varies depending on the extent of the injury and the type of tissue that was injured. Generally soft tissue takes 4-6 weeks to heal, bones and ligaments 2-3 months, but everyone heals at different rates and the timelines vary depending on the severity of the injury. During your rehabilitation, the focus will be on decreasing pain and swelling, improving range of motion and regaining full function in your everyday activities. Pool programs may be useful for helping maintain a high level of activity while doing exercises that can help you with your recovery. Many different modalities, stretches and exercises can be used to help decrease your pain and improve your range of motion. Once you are functioning at a higher level, you will start return to sport functional training. I find this stage the most fun because it involves functional sport specific exercises and building a tolerance to doing sport movements again through repetition and progression. Taking an active approach through home and clinic exercises can help you to reach your goals faster and with more success.
During the injury prevention stage, you are often already back playing the sport that you love, or you are very close to returning. Taping or bracing techniques may be used to help protect the injured area to prevent re-injury. In this stage it is important to continue the exercises you were given during the rehabilitation stage to maintain your progress. Injury prevention is also important because you can work on other areas of weakness that may contribute to possible future injuries.
These concepts apply for injuries of any type, from a muscle strain to a ligament tear or a broken bone. Getting back to your chosen sport will require time, patience and some form of rehabilitation. Physical therapy can help you to reach your short term goals (eg. Walk without a limp, throw a ball, no longer have pain), and keep you motivated towards reaching your long term goal of returning to your sport.
Sport Injury “Prehab” – Karp Physiotherapy
As discussed in the article above, sports injuries can be very frustrating. Often we wish that we could go back in time to prevent the injury from occurring. Unfortunately this can’t happen (yet?), but for now there is a great alternative which are simple exercises for injury prevention. Yes we cannot change the past and the injuries that we have been through, but we can do simple exercises and adopt simple strategies to help prevent future injuries or to prevent having an injury at all.
In competitive sports, a major part of performance is consistency and the ability to stay healthy. Injuries often cause major setbacks in the career of an amateur or professional athlete, and can sometimes end a career too early. Even though athletes are often in the best possible shape for their chosen sport, injuries can often be hard to avoid. “Prehab” or “rehabilitation before an injury” can be an effective tool to help avoid injuries, stay in competition, prolong careers and get over plateaus in performance. This is because prehab takes into consideration the stabilization of the body in ways that most conditioning programs don’t.
A great example of an injury prevention strategy that most athletes and active people have adopted into a daily routine is core strengthening. Having a strong core can help keep your back stable, preventing injury and improving your trunk control for complex movements required for sport. This same concept can be used for almost every joint in the body. Strengthening the “core” or your joints can help keep your joints stable so that your larger muscles can power through movements for performance. Another example of this concept is in the shoulder. A common group of muscles that we hear about are the rotator cuff muscles. These muscles help to rotate and elevate the joint, but more importantly, they help to keep the shoulder stable and in proper alignment during movement. If there is weakness or strength imbalance in the rotator cuff muscles, you are at greater risk of injury and this also may be affecting your power movements of the larger muscles of your shoulder. The strength and power of the shoulder complex also relies on movement of the scapula to be stable and coordinated. There are some key muscles around the scapula (serratus anterior, lower fiber traps etc.) that are often weak, which change the coordination and sometimes the mechanics of your shoulder movements. Strengthening these muscles can help to improve stability and coordination of the shoulder, which can help prevent injuries and may positively influence athletic performance.
These ideas can be used for every joint in your body. Participating in a “prehap” program can help to take these concepts, find areas of weakness and do daily exercises to strengthen these areas. With a stronger “core” of your joints, your larger muscles will be more effective in powering through the movements required for competition. A Physiotherapist has the skills and knowledge to help you incorporate these exercises into an off-season training program to improve the effectiveness of the program, prevent injury, decrease time out of competition and improve performance.