7 Tips for Returning to Sports After a Muscle or Soft Tissue Injury
When you’ve had a sports injury that resulted in muscle or soft tissue damage, it’s important to allow your body to heal before you return to the game. At Empire Sports & Spine, we know how eager you are to get back to playing and that you don’t want to be sidelined for an extended period of time.
Most athletes want to get back to playing as soon as possible, but it’s necessary to rest the body and allow your injury to heal. When players return to the game too quickly, they risk reinjury and a lengthier and more complicated recovery.
Your recovery time relies on a variety of factors and can range from a few days to a few months, depending on the severity of your injury. The only way to know if you’re truly ready to start playing is through open and honest communication with your doctor.
While the ultimate goal in rehabilitation is to return you to your preinjury condition, and the team at Empire Sports & Spine works with you to get you playing as soon as possible. To help with the transition back onto the game, here are seven tips for athletes returning to sports after injuring muscles or soft tissues.
1. Return under the approval of your doctor
It doesn’t matter how eager you are to get back to your game. Don’t risk returning to sports too soon and without the approval and support of your sports medicine specialist. They want you to return as soon as possible, too, but they can assess your recovery and ensure you’re not at risk for further injury.
2. Wait until your range of motion returns
We understand your reluctance to wait as long as it takes to get completely back to your preinjury state. If it’s safe, we work with you to get you back to the game sooner. But we don’t recommend returning to your sport until the pain from your injury is minimal and your range of motion has returned.
3. Turn down the intensity
Once you’re back in the game, it’s important that you proceed slowly. Play at a less intense level than normal and for shorter periods of time. This allows your body to regain its strength and endurance while lowering your risk of reinjury.
4. Continue at-home exercises
Just because you’re back on the court doesn’t mean your treatment plan stops. Continue seeing your doctor, and complete any strengthening, stretching, and stabilizing exercises they prescribe. The longer you do these exercises, the stronger and more stable you become around the damaged area and the less likely you are to injure yourself.
5. Remember to crosstrain
As you return to your sport after a muscle or soft tissue injury, as well as to your sports training, we want to stress the importance of cross-training. Cross-training engages different muscle groups and improves your overall level of fitness without putting too much stress on the recovering muscle. Spend time doing different cardio, strength training, and flexibility exercises during your workouts.
6. Warm up
Don’t forget the importance of warming up before training and playing sports. Simple stretches and a brisk walk or jog increases your heart rate, gets your blood pumping, and stretches your muscles, reducing your risk of injury.
7. Ensure proper form and gear fit
When you’re ready to return to the game, take a moment to work with your sports medicine doctor or trainer in regards to your form and equipment. Ensure your gear fits properly and still functions appropriately. Make sure your form isn’t putting you at risk for reinjury or creating an imbalance.
Most important, when you return to any activity after an injury, remember to listen to your body. Pushing through pain doesn’t make you stronger. Instead, it puts you at risk for a worse injury and a longer recovery. Something neither we nor you want. If you have additional questions, please call our Midtown office or click to book a consultation online.
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