Tag Archives: microtrauma

Post-Injury Rehabilitation and Reconditioning

26 Oct

Following an injury, a well-designed and -supervised rehabilitation and reconditioning program is important to help athletes return to action.  Certain principles should be taken into account when considering this process:

  • The healing tissues must never be overstressed.
  • The athlete must adhere to the rehabilitative process, as outlined by the sports medicine team.
  • The rehabilitation program must be evidence-based.
  • The program must be individualized to the athlete and his or her specific needs and goals.
  • The rehab/sports medicine team must work together to help the athlete return to unrestricted competition as quickly and safely as possible.

Sports Medicine Team

The sports medicine team is responsible for educating coaches and athletes about injury risks, precautions, and treatments.  The relationship among members of this team requires effective communication to ensure a safe environment for the injured athlete.  Members of the sports medicine team include:

  • Team physician
  • Athletic trainer
  • Physical therapist
  • Strength and Conditioning professional

Types of Injury

There are several types of injury, including macrotrauma (broken bone), dislocation (complete and partial), contusion (bruise), strain (ruptures and tears), microtrauma (overuse injury), and tendinitis (inflammation of a tendon).  Each injury requires specific rehabilitation strategies to allow return to function.

Tissue Healing

After a musculoskeletal injury, there are generally three phases of tissue healing.  Although severity of the injury within each phase may differ for each tissue type, all tissues follow the same basic pattern of healing.

  • Inflammation phase is characterized by pain, swelling, and redness.
  • Repair phase occurs as number of inflammatory cells decreases.
  • Remodeling phase is consistent with increased tissue strength.

Goals of Rehabilitation and Reconditioning

  • The goal for treatment during the inflammatory phase is to prevent new tissue damage.  A healthy environment is essential for new tissue regeneration and formation.  Rest is required to prevent further injury.  Exercise involving the injured area is not recommended.
  • The treatment goal during the repair phase is to prevent excessive muscle atrophy and joint deterioration of the injured area.  Low-intensity isometric and balance exercises are indicated at this point, since strength and flexibility are usually impaired.
  • Optimizing tissue function is the primary goal during the remodeling phase.  Exercise options include joint strengthening; exercises that prevent full range of motion, followed by exercises that allow free range of motion (as tolerated); and stretching and balance exercises.

Designing strength and conditioning programs for injured athletes requires the strength and conditioning professional to examine the rehabilitation and reconditioning goals to determine what type of program will allow the quickest return to competition.


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