Return To Play
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
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
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.