Sports rehabilitation is a multi-disciplinary approach to treat injuries sustained through sports participation so the athlete can regain normal pain-free mobility. The team may consist of highly trained professionals which can include physical therapists, athletic trainers, chiropractors and massage therapists. The primary goal is to return to pre-injury activities, whether the athlete is a professional, amateur or casual player.
The most common injuries treated by the sports rehabilitation team is sprains and strains. A sprain is an injury to the ligaments caused by overstretching or tearing. A strain, on the other hand, is an injury or tear to the muscle itself. Other conditions that can be treated through a sports rehabilitation program are fractures, arthritis issues, joint replacements and generalized pain issues.
Rehabilitation typically begins with a pain management treatment program, usually given by a licensed physical therapist. Some modalities utilized for pain relief include ice or heat application, ultrasound and electrical stimulation. Ultrasound is an effective tool to increase circulation to the affected or injured area which assists in speeding up the healing process. It can also reduce the edema or swelling causing pain. Electrical stimulation, commonly known as TENS, or transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, utilizes electric waves that penetrate into the muscle and aid in the relief of pain.
A big component of sports rehabilitation involves a stretching and exercise routine. Stretching assists the muscles shortened by injury or pain to regain its normal length to optimize pain-free motion. Exercise routines encompass things like strength, endurance, flexibility and balance to improve performance. The final progression of the exercise routine is the utilization of functional exercises to help return the athlete to his former performance level. Functional exercises are often sport-specific.
Athletic trainers often can supply immediate intervention of an injury. They can also be an integral part of the healing process and the prevention of further injury. A massage therapist can supply the manual techniques to assist in the recovery of movement as well as the pain relief required for optimal participation in the sport.
Today many rehabilitation programs utilize chiropractors. A chiropractor is a healthcare professional trained in the manipulation of the spine and manual soft tissue techniques to aid in the recovery of pre-injury performance. Many chiropractors are also trained in exercise and stretching techniques.
Sports rehabilitation begins with the treatment of the acute injury. It then follows the athlete through every step of recovery. From pain relief to optimizing muscle length to returning to pre-injury performance to injury prevention, rehabilitation is comprehensive rehab program that focuses on every facet of pain-free, effective, sports-specific motion.