When an athlete suffers an injury, it either diminishes their performance or keeps them from participating in their chosen sport entirely. Anxious to return to competition, they’ll often try to resume their normal training schedule as soon as possible so they can play at a high level again. That can lead to even more severe injuries. Any serious athlete, especially a professional athlete, trains by pushing their bodies to their ultimate limit, and tries to find ways to move that limit even higher. That’s not a recipe for success when you’re trying to recover from sports injuries.
Know The Checklist For Recovery
Whenever a sports injury occurs, doctors, trainers, and therapists use a mnemonic device to help remember the First Aid steps needed to recover fully: PRICER
- Protection – Stopping further injury, often by immobilization
- Rest – A severe reduction in physical activity overall
- Ice – Slowing the inflammation at the injury site
- Compression – Tightly wrapping the area further limits swelling
- Elevation – Raising the injured limb above the heart’s level
- Recovery – A program of rehabilitation after the other steps
Athletes Want To Get Back Into The Game Too Quickly
Athletes are notoriously impatient, and will usually try to skip as many steps as possible to get back in competition, and this can lead to longer recovery times, additional injuries, and eventually to chronic injuries.
The regimen of exercise necessary to recover from a sports injury is different than the exercise regimen that the athlete uses to reach their high level of physical performance in the first place. Another factor that makes recovery from sports injuries difficult for highly trained athletes is the natural urge of all people to stick to what they’re good at. It is often difficult to convince a trained weightlifter to stick to cardiovascular exercise in order to recover from an injury, for instance.
The Road To Full Strength After PRICER
There is a path that must be followed to full recovery if an athlete is going to return to full strength while reducing the risk of recurrence of the injury:
- End of pain and inflammation
- Restore full range of motion
- Renewal of strength
- Return to sports-specific workouts and competition
The PRICER model of Sports First Aid works mostly on ending pain and inflammation. The restoration of the full range of motion requires very low intensity workouts, and these workouts must be of short duration because of the risk of re-injury and a return of inflammation.
Case Study: Lower Leg Injury
For example, if a competitive athlete suffers a lower leg injury, it is usually very difficult to convince them to adhere to short duration, low intensity workouts because they are entirely unlike their normal exercise routines. Additional equipment should be made available to ease the transition from injury to full speed activity. You can help by looking for the best treadmill reviews and then purchasing a treadmill the athlete can use to perform highly structured, low-impact walking that restores range of motion and begins the process of restoration of strength as well. Only then can the athlete return to full sports-specific workouts and competition.