Physical Therapy and Sports Rehab

Although sports have an extensive list of benefits, from boosting mood to improving overall wellness, they also increase your risk for injury. Sports rehabilitation is the process of recovering from an injury in a way that will allow you to fully return to your sports, and physical therapy is a critical part of that journey. Here is what you should know about physical therapy and sports rehabilitation.

Contributing Factors to Sports Injuries

Although sports injuries can vary dramatically, the following factors are often implicated as contributing causes:

  • Dehydration
  • Fatigue
  • Inadequate warmup
  • Lack of conditioning
  • Overtraining
  • Poor training

Known as “weekend warriors,” those who are sedentary throughout the week and then go full-out in sports on the weekends are at particular risk. The cycle of no training followed by overtraining is a recipe for disaster. Likewise, professional athletes and top amateurs must carefully monitor their training schedules, as overtraining can easily occur if they forget to schedule rest breaks. Finally, those who specialize in one sport must be careful to cross-train regularly, or they run the risk of overbuilding some muscles while allowing others to grow weak.

Common Sports Injuries

Each sport has specific injuries that are commonly associated with it, but some injuries are common across all types of sports:

  • Dislocations
  • Fractures
  • Knee injuries
  • Muscle strains
  • Repetitive use injuries
  • Shin splints
  • Sprains
  • Swollen muscles
  • Physical Therapy and Sports Rehabilitation

Physical therapy is a broad, widely encompassing field that incorporates anatomy and kinesiology, or the science of movement. Physical therapists work in many different settings with patient groups ranging from infants to older adults. In sports rehabilitation, though, your physical therapist’s goal is to assess and treat both the current injury and the factors that led to it. The goal is to not only return you to peak form, but to help you create an action plan that minimizes your future risk of reinjury.

The healing process can be divided into three stages: acute, subacute, and chronic. Each stage has different treatment goals and methodologies.

The acute phase starts immediately after any medical treatment for your injury. During this phase, the goal is to reduce inflammation and stimulate your body’s natural healing mechanisms. The course of action is known as PRICE, which stands for Prevention-Rest-Ice-Elevation. You will learn to properly care for your injury to minimize the risk for further injury and allow the healing process to begin.

The subacute phase focuses on controlled motion. At this point, the goal is to get you moving again in a careful way that will not aggravate your injury. You will learn a variety of in-office and at-home stretching and strengthening exercises to increase your range of motion and limit pain. Depending on the nature of your injury and your sport, you may be able to resume limited training during this phase, or you may need to wait until the next phase.

The chronic phase is when you will progressively return to your full pre-injury workouts. Your injury is healing well, and you are at a minimal risk of reinjury, but your body has been traumatized. You will need to gradually rebuild your strength, endurance, and range of motion. At this time, your physical therapist will also address any functional problems that may have contributed to the injury, such as weak supporting muscles or other structural issues.

Preventing Sports Injuries

It is impossible to prevent all sports injuries, but there are steps you can take to reduce your risk. Above all, be sure to pay attention to functional fitness in your daily life. Incorporate cross-training and build in regular rest periods. Stay well-hydrated, get plenty of rest, and be sure to warm up before training or competing. Before you start training or competing at an elite or professional level, have a full assessment by a physical therapist who can identify potential issues and help you prepare your body. Also check with your doctor before beginning any new fitness or sports program.

Ready to Get Started?

If you are seeking a customized, innovative approach to physical therapy in Matawan, NJ, please contact Matawan Physical Therapy at (732) 662-4400 to schedule your initial assessment.