5 things your physio should do to help you return to sport after injury
Finding a physio to work with after an injury can be a big investment. You want to ensure they are going to give you the best possible care in order to get you back to your sport. To help you through this, we have put together the top 5 things your physio should do to help you return to sport after injury.
1. Assess early, assess often and especially before returning to sport
If you aren’t assessing, you are guessing! Your physio should be using a range of assessments throughout the rehab process. This will include diagnostic tests to determine your injury and the level of severity. They will conduct basic assessments to track your injury, such as range of motion testing. But arguably what is most important is assessments such as strength testing that highlight any deficits and give direction for the prescription of an exercise program.
Assessments will be conducted across 3 key phases in your rehab process.
When you first see the physio they will do a number of assessments to measure what level you are at. This will allow them to diagnose the injury and help estimate a timeline of recovery. It will also provides key information that will determine what exercises to prescribe and any other treatments that may be required.
Regular testing and re-testing: Repeating assessments throughout the rehab process is critical. This gives the physio information about how you are progressing and ensures that the plan in place is working. Often your rehab will speed up or slow down based on the information that is gathered from this testing. This ensures that you will return to sport performing at your highest capabilities, whilst also reducing the risk of any injuries.
Return to Sport Assessment
Your physio will need to run you through a series of assessments before clearing you to return to your sport. This ensures you are ready to perform well but also minimises the risk of re-injury or any other injuries. Research across multiple different sports and injuries have highlighted the importance of a proper assessment before returning to sport.
Check out the advanced equipment we use here at Melbourne Sports Physiotherapy as part of our assessment with clients returning to sport.
2. Set goals
Assessments provide you with information and goal-setting provides a pathway to returning to sport. If your physio isn’t setting goals with you, it is difficult to progress without potentially missing key elements of your rehab. Goals also keep you accountable and this can be invaluable especially if you expect to be out of your sport for a long period of time. Some goals will be set in collaboration with your physio to identify what needs to be worked towards in the rehab process. Other goals will be set by your physio and are specific to any deficits that have been identified in the assessments. The latter will help keep you on task and stay motivated to complete your exercises.
3. give you an exercise program that is easy to follow and constantly progressing
Without an exercise program, you cannot return to a level of performance after an injury that will enable you to return to sport. After an initial assessment and goal setting, your physio will take you through an exercise program. A lot of physios will prescribe a program that includes videos and instructions on an app on your phone. This makes the program very easy to complete, and often the app will have interactive features that allow you to notify your physio if you are struggling or have pain with a particular exercise.
If the exercises at the end of your rehab journey are similar to the start, you likely will not be ready to return to sport. Your physio should be updating your program regularly and educating you on how to progress each exercise so that you are improving constantly until you are at a level that allows you to return to sport.
4. Guide you through a graduated return to sport
Returning to your sport should not happen overnight. After a period of time away from the sport, your body will need time to adapt to the loads and demands of that sport. If your body hasn’t been given adequate time to adapt, it will inevitably break down and result in injury. We too often see people do all the hard work in their rehab only to return to competition too quickly and get injured. Your physio needs to work with you to establish a plan for gradually re-introducing you to your sport. Most return to sport plans take at least 4 weeks and involve part-training that progresses to full training and eventually a return to competition.
5. Involve you in the entire rehab process
At the end of the day, you have come to a physio to help YOU with YOUR injury. Therefore any decision making, goal setting or exercise program planning should be made with you involved. If your physio is telling you what to do without actively engaging you in the process, ask them questions. Whilst your physio will have the expertise to guide you through a rehab process, they cannot do this effectively without your input.
Here at Melbourne Sports Physiotherapy we specialise in return to sport rehabilitation. We love working with motivated individuals looking to get back to their beloved sport after injury. If you’ve been injured and want to be able to perform at your best again, book in with one of our expert physios today!
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