Jan 18, 2024

How to Return to Athleticism Following an Injury

Injuries are common amongst sporting athletes due to the demand put on the body. Sports injuries are usually caused by overuse or a direct impact and include sprains, strains, fractures and dislocations. There is a lot to work through during the recovery period to be able to return to a level of fitness and strength to enable sport to be played again.

A sporting injury can really set you back, definitely in the short-term and possibly in the longer-term. Getting back out there becomes a priority and there are many facets of your rehabilitation that can assist you to do just that. While it will feel great to be playing your sport again without injury, it is even better to regain the athleticism to perform at your best.

As part of your rehabilitation process, your physiotherapist will thoroughly assess and diagnose your injury. They will estimate how long your recovery may take and give you the necessary advice and exercises to return to sport. Following a serious injury many people struggle to perform at the same level they did beforehand but there are key areas that will help you return to a high level of athleticism.

Regaining Strength

You become weaker after an injury simply because you can’t perform the same functions you once could. Muscle weakness can be caused by:

●       Time spent resting and therefore not using the muscles.

●       Other muscles will take over to support the injured area, causing the affected area to become weaker.

●       Injured tissue, such as in a muscle strain, cannot function normally.

●       Pain can interfere with the muscle’s ability to function.

The wasting of muscle, known as muscle atrophy, is going to happen so you need exercise to regain the strength. Your physio is likely to use your uninjured side as a benchmark so the strength in your injured side can be measured against it.

Symmetry between both sides of your body is important as without it, compensations will occur that affect sporting performance and can also increase the risk of injury. The qualified team at Melbourne Sports Physiotherapy use special technology to measure the strength and speed of your muscles. The VALD Human Performance system allows accurate measurements and can track your progression to achieve your overall performance goals.

Watch Your Technique

When injured, your body will find different ways to move, to compensate for any pain or weakness. You want to pick up any changes as early as possible as they are more difficult to reverse the longer they go on. Also, they can make returning to sport more difficult as you won’t be moving effectively. Some of the common ones to watch out for include:

●       Weight not evenly distributed during double-leg exercises.

●       Hips are not level.

●       Feet turned out when walking or jumping.

By focusing closely on how you move when doing your rehab exercises, you can pick up any compensations that are occurring. Your physio will help you notice any compensations and provide advice on how to reverse them.

Rehab Specifically for Sports

The above two points are essential for injury rehabilitation and to help prevent further injuries. But if you want to return to sport you will need to train in a way that is specific to your sport, to regain the athleticism necessary.

Working backwards from what is required helps to understand. It is called reverse engineering, breaking down the components of your sport so you know how you need to train.

For example, if you want to return to footy or soccer, then you need to be fast, powerful and agile. The early phases of rehab, while you are strength building and focusing on technique are not these things. So towards the latter stages of your rehab, exercises need to be included that will help you in these areas. Your physio will tailor some specific training exercises within a safe range.

Return to Sport Testing

Testing your body as you get closer to returning to sport is critical to ensure you are ready. Your sports physio will run you through a series of assessments to see how your body is performing and will recommend when you are ready to return to training with your team. Thorough testing will minimise your chance of more injuries and maximise your performance.

Integrating Back Into Training

As tempting as it may be to jump straight back into your sport after your rehab, it is probably not going to work well. The best way to prepare is to gradually build up the amount of time doing it. Return over several weeks, beginning with part-training to eventually playing a full game. You can map out a plan together with your physio.

The team of physiotherapists at Melbourne Sports Physiotherapy are dedicated to you returning to your sport at your best. Give them a call or book an appointment online to discuss your sporting injury and find out how they can have you moving well again as soon as possible.

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