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Athletic Rehabilitation & Therapy: Get Back in the Game

sports physical therapist performing an evaluation

Have you ever had a debilitating sports injury that made you feel like your athletic career was over? Not being able to perform the activities you love most can be frustrating, and even depressing. But worry not, with the aid of athletic rehabilitation, you can get back in the game and continue following your passion for sports.

Athletic rehabilitation is a treatment program that is designed to help athletes and active individuals recover from injuries. This program makes use of several physical therapy treatments and techniques that are specially designed to promote faster recovery from an injury. If you're an athlete who has been sidelined by an injury, athletic rehabilitation could get you back to your old self. In this article, we'll take a closer look at what athletic rehabilitation is all about.

The Benefits of Athletic Rehabilitation

Athletic rehabilitation is designed to help patients recover from sports injuries and to prevent them from happening again. This treatment approach takes a comprehensive approach to healing the injury and rehabilitating the patient. To diagnose the injury and develop a treatment plan, the rehabilitation team works closely with the athlete and other healthcare professionals, such as orthopedic doctors, chiropractors, and physical therapists.

The question that crosses most people's minds after an injury is "if I just rest won't this go away?". Yes, some injuries can heal on their own. Minor bumps, bruises, and strains tend to heal over time with rest. But.. some injuries seem to heal but they aren't truly gone.

Let me tell you a quick story about my own history of not going to physical therapy after injuries. I used to play basketball and like clockwork on the second day of tryouts I would severely sprain my ankle. It was the running joke at my school. Every year I would rest and recovery and then rejoin the team in 2 weeks and continue to play. I would continue to sprain that ankle throughout the season, playing on a constantly swollen ankle. Then, after season was over it would seem to heal fully.

But what I didn't know was that it was slowly losing range of motion and strength. This was leading to progressively worse injuries as well as increased force through my knee as a compensation method.

Because of the excess force at the knee I ended up having a major knee injury which required surgery. Still to this day i think that if I had rehabbed my ankle properly the first time I could have avoided a lot of pain and injury... literally.

So let me tell you what I should have done. I should have done a full rehabilitation process and gone through various physical therapy treatments designed to help my ankle gain back range of motion, strength, and proprioception.

If you end up in PT for an injury the treatment process may include pain management, muscle strengthening and stabilization, range-of-motion exercises, balance training, and sport-specific exercises. Athletic rehabilitation helps not only in specific areas of the body but also in the athlete's overall health, which also includes improving their cardiovascular fitness, flexibility, and endurance.

How Athletic Rehabilitation Works

The goal of athletic rehabilitation is to help the athlete regain their strength, range of motion, flexibility, and core stability after an injury. With rehabilitation, athletes can start building their confidence back and eliminate the fear of reinjury.

We use a variety of treatment techniques including balance and proprioceptive training. progressive strength and endurance exercises, compound lifting, stretching and mobility, and manual therapy to help you get back to your pre injury status.

At HIDEF PT we use a phased approach to rehab. We have 5 total phases of rehab that you will go through before returning to competition and 2 more phases after you are back with your team. Each phase will be determined based on time and testing parameters. We use strength dynamometry, goniometry, and a variety of clinic and return to sports test to pass you through each phase of rehab. As you progress through your rehab program you will be allowed to return to activities in a prescribed manner.

At HIDEF our progressions are never solely based on time as this can lead to injury if certain strength and range of motion milestones are not achieved during the rehab process.

Athletic Rehabilitation after Surgery

For athletes who have undergone surgery, athletic rehabilitation is a crucial part of their recovery process. Rehabilitation encourages proper alignment, range of motion, and strength after surgery. The rehabilitation program may also teach them dealing with pain, navigate the healing process, and adjust to changes in their bodies. By working hard with their rehabilitation team, athletes can return to their previous level of athletic ability.

We specialize in treating athletes and will work with your team athletic trainer, strength coach, and team coaches to ensure a successful transition back to sports. This is a delicate process because the loads associated with sports are extremely high and if an athlete is not taken to a high level prior to returning to full participation in sport the risk of injury is high.

Finding The Right Athletic Rehabilitation Clinic

When looking for an athletic injury rehabilitation clinic, there are some key things to consider, such as the clinic's experience in treating athletes, the therapist's expertise and certification, the clinic's location, and facilities. It's essential to choose a clinic that has a clear understanding of the unique sports requirements and the stresses that come with athletic injuries.

Most physical therapists are capable of bringing someone through the early stages of recovery after a sports injury. There are few physical therapists who are the strength and conditioning background to help an athlete get back to full strength after a major injury or surgery.

This is one of my passions and why I started HIDEF Physical Therapy. I wanted to ensure that no athlete was mismanaged with their return to sport program.

The issue usually comes when a physical therapist is fearful of injuring an athlete because they are not used to pushing people hard. If your therapist treats elderly adults 90% of the time and sees 10% sports, the shift in intensity can be very difficult. To that therapist it feels extreme so the load on the athlete tends to be vastly under the required amount to gain the desired result.

This leaves a large gap between rehab and what occurs on the field. This gap exposes the athlete to risk of another injury. At HIDEF Physical Therapy we educate our providers continuously on training principles so we can close that gap and make return to sport as safe and successful as possible.

Injuries are a common occurrence in sports and are capable of drastically changing an athlete's life. However, with the right kind of treatment and dedication to rehabilitation, injured athletes can overcome their physical limitations and return to their sport of choice. Whether you’re starting an active season, re entering into an exercise routine, or competing at professional levels, it's good to know that athletic rehabilitation is available for all athletes. With a holistic approach to recovery and injury prevention, you can trust the rehabilitation process and heal properly for a stronger and more confident future.

If you are looking for a true sports physical therapy clinic with physical therapists who primarily treat athletes and active individuals then you have found the clinic for you.

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