One of the most disheartening things that can happen to an athlete is getting injured. Having to step back from playing sports to heal, the main question on their mind is knowing when they can return. The recovery time following an injury is approximately seven weeks, however, since both injury and athlete are equally unique, it is near impossible to put an exact timeframe as to when an athlete can return to their sport in full health after their injury has healed.
In 2019, there were an estimated 404,000 injuries occurred playing basketball and 292,000 from football. Whilst the probability of an athlete getting injured playing a sport is high, it is how they return that is the main concern.
Taking The Time
Understand that there is no rush to return to the sport. Recovery can be a long process that takes time to let the injuries heal. By overdoing it, you run the risk of further extending your recovery time and inevitably extending your time away from the sport.
Start on workouts and activities for other areas of the body. For example, if you have injured your arm, focus on strengthening your legs and vice versa. Take the time to properly stretch out any of your uninjured muscles, to help increase your overall flexibility to help improve your general fitness, whilst keeping your joints limber. Focus on what you can do and take each day at a time as you slowly build up your overall strength and fitness.
Seeking Medical Help
Many doctors will refer you to a physical therapist. The role of a physical therapist is to support their patients throughout all phases of healing, from the initial diagnosis through to the restoration and preventive stages of an athlete’s recovery.
Finding a reliable physical therapy service, such as ROI, is imperative to ensuring a safe return to your sport. Monitoring your performance will help you to rebuild your strength, mobility and flexibility, which may have been declined during your recovery period.
Be Mentally Prepared
Sustaining an injury during a sport can have an impact on your confidence and cause self-doubt in your ability to play. After being cleared physically, your mental wellbeing might prevent you from fully participating in a sport. Seeking help and guidance whilst forming a supportive network around you can help in improving your confidence as it diminishes any doubts you have about your ability to play.
Ease Back Into It
There are various dangers of returning to a sport too soon, and so easing yourself back into the sport will prevent further damage. The decision as to whether an athlete should return is a collective one made between the coach, physical therapist and the athlete.
Upon returning, gradually increase your training until you are cleared for full participation. Avoid jumping back into the sport and participating on a game day as it only increases the risk of the injury returning.