From the time that an athlete endures a soft tissue injury (i.e. sprained ankle, ligament tear, muscle tear etc.), it is crucial that necessary procedures are put in place to optimize the rehabilitation. This is relevant for the occasional gym attendee, to the premiership footballer. In order to fully comprehend this process, one must understand the time scale in which the soft tissue takes to respond. In order to demonstrate this, we will use a basketball player with a twisted ankle.
1. This immediate phase is known as the ACUTE INFLAMMATORY PHASE, which lasts 0-72 hours. During this time the individual should expect PAIN, REDNESS, SWELLING AND HEAT. Assuming that there is no bony disruption, the player should follow the RICE principle: Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. In addition the player should start to initiate some movement within the joint, in a pain free range. In this case the basketball player should point their toes up and down to move the ankle.
2. THE REPAIR PHASE. This phase last 2 days up to 6 weeks, depending on the severity of the soft tissue injury. At this point, the use of ice should be stopped. The athlete should be starting to increase the range of the gentle joint mobility exercise and resume a normal walking pattern, both of which will be injury dependant. Once the pain has decreased significantly the athlete should commence gentle strengthening.
3. THE MATURATION PHASE. This phase lasts 4 weeks to 12 months. During this phase the individual should be increasing the strength and length of the tissue. It is important around this time for the athlete to use balance exercises, enabling the joint to undergo the demands of sport upon their return. Furthermore the athlete would need to perform drills that suit their sport.
Fig.1. Components of a progressive rehab programme.
Should you be unfortunate enough to sustain an injury, our team of experienced physiotherapists are here to help you at our modern state of the art practice.To make an appointment please contact us on 01279 414959 or visit our contact us page.