Return To Play

December 14, 2016

Many times after sustaining a serious injury, athletes will want to do whatever it takes to 

return to the playing field. They see professional athletes making miraculous comebacks 

in short periods of time, and they try to do the same. But one must keep in mind that if 

you return too early, there is a risk of re-injury, and the second down time may end up 

being longer. Remember, professional athletes are usually in tremendous physical 

condition at the time of their injury, and are highly motivated. There is a proper way to 

go about returning to full activity after an injury, and there are certain exercises that can 

be done to help strengthen the involved area. 

It is essential that a rehabilitation program be specially tailored to address different 

injuries and situations. 

Prompt Treatment - as soon as an injury occurs, make sure that you are examined by a 

professional as soon as possible. The more timely the diagnosis the 

faster treatment can be rendered. Treatment may consist of 

immobilization, rest, further diagnostic testing, rehabilitation or 

possibly surgery. 

Positive Attitude - it is always helpful to have a positive outlook on what is in store 

for you – this will benefit you during your “down” time and you 

will strive to recover faster. Do not take a positive attitude to the 

point where you think you are ready to play when you are still not 

fully healed, however. 

Stay fit - if you are in good shape, when an injury occurs it may not be quite 

as severe. Also, you must keep yourself in shape even while you 

are injured, so that you will be ready to play when the injury is 

fully healed. 

In the acute phase, effective ways to help your recovery time are focused on minimizing 

swelling – using ice, compression and elevation, as well as plenty of rest and less 

strenuous activities. Activities that can be used to maintain condition during recovery 

period depend on the injury – for instance, a leg injury may require running in water or 

using a stationary bicycle. Never wait until you are fully healed to start getting back in 

shape. After strength returns to normal, simple and effective drills can be started to 

return you to your former level of ability. Starting a light jogging program for lower 

extremity injuries and light throwing for upper extremity injuries may be a conservative 

way to begin returning to your sport. . 

Following a carefully formulated treatment plan leading to full recovery not only lessens 

the chance of re–injury, but also assures that when you do return you will be prepared to 

meet the demands of your sport. Each injury is different and therefore the treatment and 

the period of time to return to play varies. The main concern of your orthopedist is that 

you are fully recovered before you return – even at 70% you may feel like you are ready o play again, but serious risks may remain. As team physicians, we are always trying to 

get the athlete back as soon as possible, but health and safety should always come first. 


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