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Sports Injury Rehabilitation – Promote Healing & Recovery and Localised Exercise Rehabilitation

In our previous post, we provided a brief overview of the different stages in the sports injury rehabilitation process. In this post, we will elaborate further on the first two stages –

Promote Healing & Recovery and Localised Exercise Rehabilitation.

Promote Healing & Recovery This stage lasts up to 72 hours, but your injury will continue to heal and recover for weeks thereafter. During the initial inflammatory phase (up to 72 hours) it is recommended to follow the R.I.C.E principles. After this, it is recommended to consult your Physiotherapist to diagnose the injury, provide a treatment care plan for rehabilitation and begin initial hands-on treatment as needed.

What is R.I.C.E.? R.I.C.E stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation and should be used as first aid treatment in the initial stage of acute musculoskeletal injuries when inflammation in present. The R.I.C.E regime helps minimise inflammation, pain and swelling that is associated with injuries and has been shown to significantly hasten healing and injury recovery.

During this stage, it is recommended to REST from any activity that increases your pain, ICE the injured area on and off for 10 minutes every 2 hours using a COMPRESSION bandage, and to ELEVATE the injured area above the level of your heart to minimise bleeding and swelling.

When to apply R.I.C.E? When heat, redness, pain and swelling at the site of the injury are present.

Why it is important to see a Physiotherapist post-sports injury? Firstly, physiotherapy is a treatment method that seeks to restore your body’s function and movement, as well as provide pain relief and promote healing. This is vital in restoring your body back to its pre-injury level of performance without the risk of further injuring yourself. At Infinite Health, our Physiotherapists have experience and knowledge of the latest evidence-based practice, skilled assessment and diagnosis of sports injuries. As well as effective ‘hands-on’ management techniques and exercise protocols to assist recovery and prevent injury.

What’s the difference between a Physiotherapist and a Sports Physiotherapist? Sports Physiotherapy is a specialised branch of physiotherapy which deals with injuries and issues related to sports people. Generally, each sports physiotherapist usually has sport-specific knowledge that can address acute, chronic or overuse injuries. At Infinite Health, our Sports Physiotherapists specialise in soccer, tennis, running and basketball-related injuries or injury prevention training, and have plenty of experience in various other sports.

During the first stage in the Sports Injury Rehabilitation process, Physiotherapists will provide a safe treatment care plan that is specific to your wants, needs and goals and begin ‘hands-on’ treatment as required. The purpose of this is to identify a clear plan for rehabilitation for the patient, as well as provide education of the cause of the injury and the steps needed to rehabilitate back to pre-injury performance.

Localised Exercise Rehabilitation

This treatment stage begins shortly after the initial inflammatory phase, and involves basic flexibility, mobility and low level strengthening exercises isolated at the site of injury.

Exercise intensity at this stage should be low, to allow for the damaged tissue to continue to heal. This stage is often rushed and will result in poor quality healing and will become prone to re-injury later on.

Localised strengthening exercises are prescribed to progressively load the damaged tissue at the site of the injury in order to restore strength to that specific area. For example, doing heel raises for an Achilles Tendinopathy, or a seated knee extension (or basic VMO activation exercise) for most knee injuries. During this stage, we are not only aiming to restore strength back to the site of the injury, but improve local motor control of the muscles used to perform certain actions, in order to improve movement/function – i.e. teaching a muscle at the site of the injury to switch on in order to create optimal movement at that area.

Localised flexibility and mobility are prescribed to progressively increase the range of motion of your joints and improve the ability of your joints to move freely or without restriction at or around the site of the injury. For example, doing a gastrocnemius and soleus stretch for an Achilles Tendinopathy, or a hamstring stretch for a hamstring strain. Additionally, it might involve any form of passive stretch, active range of motion stretch, or active assisted stretch specifically designed to target and unload the site of injury or restore optimal movement to that area.

Lastly, it is important to realise that as you go through your rehabilitation process, exercises prescribed in each stage do not become irrelevant as you progress on to the next stage. You may find that you will need to keep working on your flexibility and mobility throughout the whole rehabilitation process, whether it is to keep improving range of motion or non-restricted movement, or to eventually maintain that level of movement. Similarly, you may find that you very well need to carry one or two localised strengthening exercises through your rehabilitation process to allow you to maintain local motor control and strength at the site of the injury.

Stay tuned for our next post on Sports Injury Rehabilitation: Functional Rehabilitation and Sports-specific Rehabilitation!

If you would like to read further please feel free to click here/here/here. Otherwise feel free to contact us at Infinite Health Chatswood - Physiotherapy, Exercise Physiology & Massage Therapy on 02 9412 2222 to start your rehabilitation process today!

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