Why Sports Rehab?
What is sports rehab (rehabilitation)?
The word rehabilitation means the restoration of optimal form (anatomy) and function (physiology). This comes from the Latin prefix re-, meaning “again” and habitare, meaning “make fit”. In terms of sports injuries, the goal of rehabilitation is to return to sports as soon as possible with the utmost optimal performance.
Why is rehabilitation after a sporting injury important?
Rehab bridges the gap between recovery and an athlete’s return to sports. It is a process designed to minimise the loss associated with acute injury or chronic disease, to promote faster recovery, and to maximise functional capacity, fitness and performance. Rehab also greatly prevents the reoccurrence of the same injury in the future as well as to push the athlete to achieve their best state when returning to sports.
Is there a difference between sports rehabilitation and return to sports training?
Yes. Though both involve movement and exercises, the type, intensity and volume for each form of training differs. Sports training is very skilled based and usually involves more advanced components such as speed, power, strategy etc. Rehabilitation consists of specific and isolated training whether for a particular muscle or joint. The rehab or physiotherapist in charge willassess for lacking and limited components such as muscle weakness, reduced proprioception and balance, poor muscle endurance after an injury and then draw up a rehab plan accordingly. With a specific component lacking optimalperformance, a missing link appears and affects the overall movement in the future. For example, when a runner or footballer experiences a hamstring tear or strain but leaves out proper rehabilitation whether it is to improve hamstring mobility or strength, two things are likely to happen: the athlete may experience a recurrent injury in the near future or experience pain in other areas due to overcompensation.
What happens during sports rehabilitation?
Rehabilitation usually starts with pain management, tissue release and recovery of the injured area that is done under physiotherapy. This is followed by specific movement and tissue loading which are vital in regaining functional control of the injured area. To return to sports, an athlete not only needs to have adequate strength and flexibility but also endurance, balance, agility and power whether to run, jump or hit a ball. Hence, the importance of an all-rounded rehabilitation programme.
Frontera WR. Rehabilitation of Sports Injuries: Scientific Basis. Vol X of Encylopaedia of Sports Medicine. An IOC Medical Comittee Publication in collaboration with the International Federation of Sports Medicine. Blackwell Science Ltd. 2003