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The Benefits of Rehabilitation After a Sports Injury

The Benefits of Rehabilitation After a Sports Injury

Approximately 30 million children and teenagers participate in sports in the United States. Each year there are over 3.5 million injuries.

Professional athletes have an annual injury incidence of 2,000 per every 10,000 players. If you’re a professional athlete, or if your child plays sports, an injury is almost an inevitability.

The first step after an injury is to have it thoroughly evaluated by a sports medicine specialist, such as David Lintner, MD. Dr. Lintner’s been the team physician for the Houston Astros since 1994

At his Baytown and Houston, Texas, Houston Methodist Orthopedics & Sports Medicine clinics, Dr. Lintner diagnoses and treats sports injuries and recommends specific rehabilitation protocols so you can play again. 

Rehab strengthens injured limbs

If you’ve been injured, you must stop using the area of your body that experienced the trauma. Even if Dr. Lintner only recommended the RICE protocol as treatment (i.e., Rest, Icing, Compression, Elevation), time out of your game means you lose conditioning.

Also, many sports injuries are caused by poor form or weak muscles. Before you get back in the game, you have to make sure you’re strong enough and your form is ergonomically safe. Rehabilitation strengthens the muscles, ligaments, and tendons that support the injured area so you’re less likely to injure it again.

Dr. Lintner has developed rehab protocols specific to your injury. For instance, he has knee rehab protocols that address a variety of knee injuries and shoulder rehab protocols that are similarly targeted to the type of shoulder problem.

Rehab is a process

Your injury may have healed on its own or you may have had surgery to repair it. Afterward, you might feel ready to play. Even though you’re eager to get back to your game, don’t rush yourself.

Rehab has several phases that you must engage in before you’re strong enough to return to your game safely. Skipping ahead risks re-injury.

Phase 1 — Reduce pain and swelling

You may first try to reduce pain and swelling with the RICE protocol. However, depending on the severity of the injury, you may also benefit from medications, electrical stimulation, or ultrasound therapy.

Phase 2 — Improve flexibility and range of motion

Your physical therapist (PT) stretches injured muscles gradually to increase their range of motion and strength. You’re also given exercises to do at home. Hold the stretch for at least 30 seconds.

Phase 3 — Build strength and start proprioception/balance training

To strengthen the tissues around your injury, you may start with isometric exercises and then progress to resistance bands. As you gain strength, your PT switches you to free weights, cuff weights, and other weight equipment. 

An injury can affect your ability to balance and alter your proprioception. Proprioception is the sense of knowing where your body is in space, even without looking. Proprioception is an essential part of balance. Your PT gives you exercises that help you balance with your eyes closed to increase your body awareness and reduce the risk of future injuries.

Phase 4 — Add sport-specific training to proprioception/balance training

You continue your proprioception and balance training and also begin specific conditioning related to your sport. For instance, if you’re a pitcher, you undergo throwing rehabilitation.

Phase 5 — Gradual return to full activity

Dr. Lintner helps you decide when it’s safe for you to return to your game. You may be given specific modifications to change the way you perform repetitive motions. You may also have new warm-up and cool-down exercises to reduce your risk for re-injury.

If you’ve been injured during sports play or practice, don’t try to rush yourself back into your game. Find out what treatments and rehabilitation protocols you need to safely strengthen and recondition your body by contacting our office nearest you in Houston or Baytown, Texas. Phone our friendly team or book an appointment online.

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