Updated Rehabilitation Guidelines for Muscle and Sports Injuries

A Step-By-Step Guide Towards Rehabilitation

Injuries to the muscles and tendons are common in sports. They can be painful, but even more damaging is that when muscles and tendons are injured they lose their strength and flexibility. This makes them vulnerable to further injury and slows down recovery from other injuries.

To get your muscles and tendons back in shape you need a program of stretching, strengthening, and aerobic exercise. Only if you follow such a program will your injured tissues recover fully. To make sure you get the best possible results from your rehabilitation program, it is important to choose the right combination of exercises for your particular injury. You should also understand that it is not always easy to distinguish between normal muscle soreness after exercise and an injury that will require rehabilitation.

It’s dangerous to try to rush through this process of rehabilitation; it’s best to take all the time you need to do it right, even if you have a deadline for getting back into action.

No matter the injury or severity level, the rehabilitation process requires a multidisciplinary approach. The following is an example of a step-by-step guide for rehabilitation that athletes and sports medicine specialists will often follow to achieve the best outcomes.

  • Step 1: Diagnosis
  • Step 2: Attend to Inflammation
  • Step 3: Promote Primary Healing (Rehabilitation Exercise, Pain Management)
  • Step 4: Improve Fitness (Sport Specific Training & General Conditioning)
  • Step 5: Control Physical Stressors & Prevent Re-Injury

Throughout the duration of the rehabilitation process, it’s encouraged to focus on the quality of activity rather than quantity. Just as overtraining can cause initial injury, it can also result in poor recovery and an unsatisfactory rehabilitation outcome.

Goals of Rehabilitation

The primary aim of injury rehabilitation is an imminent return to sport in peak form and a focus on preventing re-injury.

The best methodology in rehabilitation uses goal identification and the creation of a roadmap to that goal. Along the way, the athlete will need encouragement and motivation since they can always be at risk of becoming discouraged. The rehabilitation process can be quite draining, both physically and mentally, for the athlete. Therefore, a constant positive focus on achieving the goal and reaching the destination is critical for success.

The following are the primary goals of an effective rehabilitation program:

  • Regaining Stability After Injury
  • Regaining Normal Movement After Injury
  • Restoring Function & Performance to Pre-Injury Levels
  • Encouraging Safe Return to Sport
  • Minimizing Risks of Re-Injury

Once all of these goals and objectives have been met, the rehabilitation process is all but complete. It’s now the physician’s job to monitor progress frequently and ensure the athlete follows preventative measures. The athlete must play their part by actively following the recommendations outlined by their physician to ensure a safe return to sport with the new target of health and longevity.

All severely injured athletes, as well as non-athletes, can benefit from rehabilitation programs. In fact, according to the World Health Organization, it’s estimated that 2.4 billion individuals globally live with an injury or health condition that could benefit from rehabilitation. This number will certainly increase in the years to come.

Rehabilitation markedly assists in recovery and healing, and it reduces time away from athletic participation. The process focuses on retraining of proper movement mechanics and encourages the overall health and well-being of the athlete, both mentally and physically.

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About the Author: Staff Reporter