Who you should go and see when you get injured
Unfortunately injuries are part and parcel of the sporting environment. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how well you prepare, injuries can still happen. If you sustain an injury though, it’s important to be proactive.
Use injuries as an opportunity
You have to take control of the situation by using it as an opportunity to get better. You can use the rehabilitation time to work on some things that you might not normally get to work on. If there were some things that you were lacking in, in regards to your strength or conditioning, you can now use this time to specifically focus on improving in those areas, you’ve got to do everything you can to come back better than you were before. Make the situation as positive as possible, this is going to be really important from a motivational point of view and as you’re moving forward through the rehab as well.
When you first get injured, it’s obviously important to seek help, usually in the form of first aid from your sports trainers, at the ground, that might be the very first point of call, and then emergency, if the injury is bad enough. After that, we need to find people who are going to devise a plan to help you achieve your goal of getting back out on the field and playing at your absolute best. A lot of people tend to go to general practitioner doctors first, although we advise against this. Certainly, doctors are very knowledgeable, but they haven’t really specialized in sports injuries and they usually only give you general advice that’s nice, safe and comfortable. Due to them being rather conservative, your injury timeframes and even diagnosis of injury become inaccurate. The people you should be seeking are those who have specialized in sports injuries, Physiothearpists and Sports Doctors.
Your first point of call is a Physiotherapist (physio). Physios are really good at being able to delegate beyond their scope as well, if need be. Physio’s cover the majority of most rehabilitation and injury recovery. If they need a help or a second opinion, they’ll call upon a Sports Doctor for extra advice, scanning, imaging and expertise on certain injuries. It’s important to get Physio’s involved first, because they’re going to be the ones to devise a plan for your return to sport. Physio’s will manage the acute phase of the rehabilitation and overseer of the whole process, from start to finish. As you progress out of the acute phase of rehabilitation, it’s important for the physio to bring on a Strength and Conditioning coach (S&C).
The Strength and Conditioning Coach
The reason for bringing on an S&C is, the S&C understands the levels of performance that you’re going need to get back to, to return to training and return to your sport. The S&C can also make sure that the uninjured limbs are still being worked. One mistake many athletes make is focusing on their injury too much and neglecting the rest of their body. This will be put you at a great risk of injuring something else, so a good rehabilitation program has a combination of specific rehabilitation exercises as well performance exercises for the un-injured limbs. This is when you take the opportunity to make the most from an injury, for example; if you break your hand, you still have three other limbs and a mid section that can be worked. Your program might be modified and you’ll have to work around that injury, but everything else can be still worked on, hard! You can actually make some really good progress during this time, along with that it’s a good idea to set separate goals and separate targets outside of the injury itself. If you can find a physio that has also done a sports science degree, and understands strength and conditioning really well, you’re very fortunate.
Now you’ve got a complete team of Physio, Sports Doctor and S&C. Ideally what we want to do is see the right people at the right times. First point of call is obviously, emergency, get yourself sorted and make sure there’s no immediate danger. Then, once we know that you’re relatively safe, you can call upon a physios, who can devise that plan, use the referral system with sports doctors, and strength and conditioning coaches. If you are not getting this in your rehabilitation plan, then you might be getting sub par rehabilitation. Obviously you can risk it, and see how you go, chances are, you can get lucky and you get through. Having said that, what we’ve seen quite fair bit, is that poor rehabilitation, is goning to result continuing, chronic injury. The other really good part about having this team, is you can put the responsibility on them. You don’t have to think about it, you are letting other people, that are experts, take care of you.