Getting Back into the Game After a Sports Injury

Whether you’re running the trails to stay fit for a lifetime or reaching for a state championship, a sports injury can put you on the sidelines. So, how do you get off the bench and back into the game?

Our pain management physicians at Blue Ridge Pain Management Associates, with offices in Salem, Christiansburg, and Roanoke, Virginia, are well-acquainted with helping athletes heal after an injury. These talented specialists provide a wide variety of effective and innovative treatments that focus on relieving discomfort and restoring mobility.

Here’s what our medical experts have to say about getting fit after an injury.

Understanding your injury and rehabilitation

It’s probably easy to understand that the nature and severity of your injury affect your treatment course. A fractured ankle bone, for instance, typically requires different therapy than what you’d expect with an overuse injury related to shin splints, which are caused by irritation to the shinbone and can result in microfractures.

You may be frustrated to learn, however, that both issues can put you on the bench for a season or longer when it comes to restoring the flexibility and strength of the muscles, tendons, and ligaments affected by the injury.

You can expect a period of immobility with either injury that may include casting for a fracture and limiting running activity for a time when you have shin splints. This can cause nearby muscles to become flabby and weak and unused tendons and ligaments to thicken and stiffen.

A successful return to sports activity involves addressing the underlying condition and its cause as well as overcoming the consequences of the injury with structured rehabilitation. 

At Blue Ridge Pain Management, we offer several therapies designed to limit your pain during recovery and help speed healing and rehab, including platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy and trigger point injections.

Follow your rehab directions

Following an injury, we often recommend a course of rehabilitation that includes physical therapy and home exercises designed to progressively restore flexibility and strength and improve your overall fitness.

Skipping home exercises and stretches recommended for an ankle sprain, for instance, can significantly delay your recovery and may limit your range of motion permanently. It’s also important, however, that you do not overdo by increasing the intensity or frequency of exercises faster than instructed since this can also lengthen the recovery process.

Strike the right balance between active rest and inactivity

As you heal, it’s vital to follow your doctor’s instructions regarding rest. However, it’s just as important to remain active as you recover, since inactivity can negatively impact circulation and overall healing.

Shin splints, for example, often require you to stop running for a time so that the injured bone has a chance to recover. Switching to swimming and/or cycling during your recovery can take the load off your shins but keep you physically active while your bones knit.

Start from the beginning

Don’t restart your training program from where you left off once you’re cleared to return to your sport or activity. Instead, treat it as a new beginning and build your workout gradually over several weeks.   

As in any case with a serious injury, you’ll need to go through your primary care physician first to get a referral. Once your referral has been approved, schedule an evaluation at Blue Ridge Pain Management Associates by calling the office nearest you. We’re here to help. 

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