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Getting Back into Sports After an Injury

Posted on December 08, 2020 by Dr.Paul

If you’ve had a recent sports injury, you’ve most likely been on the sidelines for quite some time. One of the main concerns when athletes get hurt is when they will be able to return to sports. However, the answer to this question is not that easy, as every athlete and injury are different. 

Returning too soon can increase your risk of re-injury and possibly cause longer recovery. While you may be excited to get back in the game, it is important to know when it is safe for you to return to sports after an injury.

Factors to Consider 

Here are some important factors that both you and your doctor/therapist will consider when determining whether you are able to return to sports:

Type and extent of injury

Overuse injuries develop gradually over time and often begin with a slight pain or discomfort during activity. Common risk factors for overuse injuries include too heavy of a training workload, poor technique/form, prior injury, and age.

Traumatic injury is a term that refers to “physical injuries of sudden onset and severity which require immediate medical attention,” according to UF Health. Depending on the severity of the injury, it could take anywhere from months to years until the injury fully heals. 

Level of pain

If you are experiencing severe pain, you should seek immediate medical attention. If you have mild to moderate pain, this usually means that the injury is not that serious and may only require a medical evaluation and at-home treatments.

If your mild to moderate pain does not improve with conservative methods after about a week, see a physician before it becomes a chronic condition. 

When is it safe to return to sports?

Parameters should be assessed before you can return to sports after an injury and recovery. While there is no exact answer, as the type and extent of injury varies from person, here are a few indicators that it’s safe to return to sports:

  • Absence of pain
  • Restoration of full range of motion
  • Absence of swelling
  • You can perform throwing movements with proper form and no pain, or perform full weight bearing on the hips, knees and ankles 

Keep in mind that these are guidelines only and that you should follow your physician’s advice regarding return to sports. It is important that you take extra care wherever the injury is located for several weeks or months to ensure a full recovery.

Schedule an Appointment

If you suffer from acute, chronic pain or other musculoskeletal disorders, contact Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation of NY & CT to schedule an appointment.