• Dr. Mark Freund

When Do You Need Sports Rehab?


sports rehabilitation

The history of sports rehabilitation is not something new. In fact, some believe it dates back to the 5th century. Herodicus, one of Hippocrates' teachers (the same figure the Hippocratic Oath is attributed to), is often given credit for launching sports medicine. He did this by developing therapeutic exercises to help athletes recover from sore muscles and game-related injuries sustained during the Olympics.


Back in the 5th century, athletes understood the importance of protecting their bodies and recovering quickly, so they could physically compete again. Whether pro or recreational, modern-day athletes have access to doctors and therapists who understand their needs and have developed various treatments to assist the athlete toward this end.


When Do You Need Sports Rehab?

You have probably heard the expression, "walk it off." This is not what you want to hear after being laid flat by a tackle, being hit in the shoulder by a baseball, hearing your knee pop, or feeling a burning pain in your leg. Many pro or recreational athletes will instinctively "tough it out," assuming the pain they are feeling will go away.


People tend to think physical therapy is unnecessary unless you are seriously injured or are recovering from surgery, but this is not the case. Many physicians will recommend physical therapy if you have pain that interferes with your daily life or have lost strength, range of motion, or experience trouble with your balance. If you actively participate in sports and are injured, it is advised to begin physical therapy straightway even with a small injury.


There are several reasons why starting sports injury rehab quickly is beneficial to the injury and the body in general.

  • Recovery time is shorter

When an injury gets prompt treatment with physical therapy, most people can return to their previous activities quickly. On the other hand, if treatment is delayed, the recovery time is slower because secondary injuries are possible, followed by developing bad habits to shield the injury.

  • Secondary injuries occur less

When physical therapy starts right away, it prevents you from developing a compensating mechanism for the injury. This does not allow the muscles and joints around the injury to function normally, thereby causing extra stress.

  • The cost of treatment is lower

When you put off physical therapy, you run the risk of a secondary injury and a longer recovery time. This will cost you more long-term because you'll need additional doctor's visits and treatment to get you back to your peak fitness level.


When do you need spine and sports rehab? You should receive treatment as soon as possible following an injury.


Physical Therapy and Sports Rehabilitation

When dealing with an orthopedic injury, the recovery process tends to follow a three-step procedure, which involves pain relief and reduced inflammation, followed by treatment and rehabilitation. In this situation, physical therapy is used to restore function, while rehabilitation helps a person recover from an injury with various other treatments.


The terms physical therapy and rehabilitation tend to be used interchangeably. However, they are two distinctly different ways to help the body. Rehabilitation in this article refers to recovery in regaining physical strength following an accident or injury


Generally, the purpose of rehab is to get a person back to the condition they were in following an accident or injury while using various treatments. Sports rehab will combine treatments such as medicine, light weights, resistance equipment, physiotherapy, etc. to get athletes back on their feet.


Physical therapy is just one of the tools used during rehabilitation because it focuses on the injured area while increasing the affected area's strength and motion range. A variety of methods are used in physical therapy treatment. Some of the treatments include:

  • Joint mobilization

This treatment is used to move the joint using its natural resistance to stretch and strengthen the tissue that surrounds the bone.

  • Stretching

Stretching has multiple physical therapy uses, from improving range of motion after an injury to helping your muscle relax.

physical therapy and rehabilitation
  • Electric stimulation

This treatment is designed to treat patients suffering from muscle spasms and pain while preventing atrophy and helping patients build up their strength.

  • Hot/cold packs

Heat and cold are beneficial for dealing with pain from aching muscles, stiff and swollen joints, and knee pain, among other things.


What Injuries Does Sports Rehab Treat?

Sports injury is a broad term used to cover any injury you get while participating in a team or individual sport. You don't have to be a professional athlete to suffer from a sports injury - the term applies to weekend warriors as well. The most common injury treated in sports rehab is to the knee. Other injuries that may require rehabilitation include:

  • Shoulder injuries

These are usually a result of strains or sprains. They occur in high impact or collision sports, as well as in baseball and golf. There are many reasons why the shoulder is hurting, and a physical therapist will pinpoint the area that is causing problems.

  • Shin splints

The feeling of burning tightness in the shins results from walking or running on a hard surface, not wearing supportive shoes, or from repetitive stress to the area. To reduce the pain from shin splints, a manual muscle manipulation of the injured tissue may be in order, in addition to stretching and learning exercises. These exercises will strengthen hip rotation and extension, which will decrease stress in the lower leg.


  • Dislocations

Dislocation is often a result of contact and high-impact sports. Physical therapy will focus on relieving pain while restoring the affected joint's range of motion and strength.

  • Achilles tendonitis

This injury is a result of overuse or neglecting the importance of stretching. It is common for the Achilles tendon to be stretched or torn during sporting events. Rehabilitation of a ruptured Achilles tendon will require stretching and flexibility exercise in addition to endurance activities and agility training.

  • Lower back and hip injuries

About 97% of back pain in the adult population results from muscle strains and ligament sprains. At the same time, hip pain results from a soft tissue injury like tendinitis or a muscle strain. Both passive and active physical therapy offer relief for these issues. With passive physical therapy, the therapist will use heat or ice packs and electric stimulation. In contrast, active physical therapy will focus on the patient doing exercises and stretching.

  • Knee injuries

These are common for many athletes, particularly runners, often caused by running too hard, twisting the knee, or an improper warm-up routine. Something as simple as stretching or an ultrasound massage can improve the knee's condition.


When to Seek a Chiropractor?

Natural Care Chiropractic has integrated therapy and rehab protocols with the treatments of Chiropractic care for enhanced patient care. Chiropractors are renowned for their ability to treat a variety of conditions which are characterized by pain that can range from mild to extreme. A chiropractor's education begins with an undergrad degree that will focus on science or pre-med. Following graduation, they will participate in a chiropractic program for five years, attend classes on the body structure, and receive hands-on experience. All chiropractors must obtain a license to practice by taking a board exam. They are qualified to provide therapeutic care to help their patients live a better life.


So, when should you see one? The most common reason people visit chiropractors is back pain resulting from injury, sitting too long, bad posture, or various other reasons. There are some injuries where a chiropractor can help an athlete regain their range of motion, reduce pain, and possibly prevent the injury from reoccurring.


It can be confusing to know who you should see, a physical therapist or a chiropractor. A few things to consider are what type of issues you are dealing with, such as back pain, neck pain, joint pain, and headaches. These are injuries that both can treat, like managing pain through nonsurgical techniques, but each deals with them differently. The doctors at Natural Care Chiropractic are able to cross-treat patients using chiropractic techniques and rehab protocols.

sports injury and physical therapy

Chiropractors focus on performing manipulations and adjustments of bones and joints that encourage the body to heal itself. A chiropractor also uses specialized equipment to perform adjustments and manipulations to realign and relieve pain in the spine. In contrast, a physical therapist focuses on how the body moves and develops a course of treatment to achieve pain-free movement. Therapists assist patients in achieving this goal by performing stretches and exercises that can be done in any healthcare environment or the patient's home. You should seek chiropractic care if you are looking for a more holistic approach to assessing, restoring, and maintaining your spine and joints' health following a sports injury.


However, it is imperative to speak to your doctor first. Discuss the different physical therapy and chiropractic care options to determine the type of treatment you should receive for your sports injury before beginning any form of therapy.


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