An injury has sidelined you, and now you are wondering when you can get back on the court to show the opposing team your signature moves.
Your recovery is going well, but you are unsure if returning to play at this point in time is the right decision, or if it is courting a worse disaster.
When is the best time to return to playing?
Whether your injury is minor or major, your return to playing basketball, tennis, ice skating, or any other type of sport, will be dictated by a few critical factors.
Your conditioning before getting injured
If you are well-conditioned before suffering an injury, time it will take for you to make a full recovery will be relatively shorter compared to someone who is in bad shape to start with.
Your stage of recovery
In most injury cases, rest, including limiting physical activity, is the key factor to recovery. If your injury is severe, you may undergo various types of treatments, ranging from using basic medical devices like crutches or a sling, to physical therapy and surgical procedures.
As your recovery progresses, cross-training may be helpful. For example, you can swim, cycle, or even lift weights, in order to keep your uninjured body parts conditioned while the injured body part continues to recover.
This phase is followed by treatments that are designed to help you regain both your strength and range of motion in the affected body part.
Your psychological readiness
One critical thing that is underestimated by sports fans and athletes alike is mental readiness.
Sometimes, even if an athlete is physically ready and has been cleared to train normally, she is not mentally prepared to pick things up from where she left off.
Psychological readiness comprises three parts: the athlete’s confidence, her expectations, and her past performance.
Confidence comes from different factors. However, there are three critical sources of confidence. These are the athlete’s faith in her medical team and treatment, support from her coach and therapists, and attainment of short-term goals during the rehabilitation process.
Athletes returning to their chosen sports should also set realistic expectations about performance. If you have been injured, you should prepare yourself mentally for the possibility that your performance may not be the same as prior to the injury, especially in the initial phase of your return.
The achievement of short-term goals during rehabilitation can be influenced by factors like goal setting, boredom, the athlete’s involvement with the team. An athlete can use this to fuel her desire to return to the court, field or ice.
Setting goals for your return
If you have been injured, there is usually the temptation to return to playing before you are fully ready. However, whether you are a weekend warrior or an aspiring amateur, doing so can cause more harm than good, especially over the long term.
Your medical team will give you the signal when it is appropriate to return to sport once a few critical factors have been met. The time allotted for both rest and rehabilitation will depend on achieving the goals they help set.
First, you have to make sure that you no longer experience pain and swelling in the injured body part. Then, your therapist will compare the range of motion to the injured side with the uninjured one.
In terms of strength, you should have regained at least 80 percent of your normal strength. Balance and coordination should be at around 80 percent of your standard. Finally, if your injury is in your lower body, you should be able to run without limping; if the injury is in your upper body, you should be able to throw correctly.
It is critical to remember that rehabilitation should not be rushed. This ensures that you bounce back stronger and minimize the risk of injuring yourself again.
Easing your way back in
It can be frustrating to find yourself unable to play the game that you love, but you can use this setback to fuel your desire.
During your rehabilitation, your therapist will check your ability to perform basic movements and progress to more advanced techniques. You should take baby steps and embrace the rehabilitation process. After being able to perform basic movements, you will begin progressing to more complex drills.
Only once you are able to perform non-contact, sport-specific skills can you move on to contact drills.
Patience is key
Breakthroughs in medical technologies now allow modern athletes to bounce back from injuries that in the past were considered career-ending. While it can be frustrating to sit on the sidelines instead of contributing to the game play, looking at things from a long-term perspective candoyou a great service.