How to train to reduce the risk of other injuries while in rehab
If you’re going through a rehabilitation program you should be working with a Physiotherapist (Physio). You should also seek the advice of a Strength and Conditioning Coach (S&C) to keep the rest of your body ticking over. Injuries are not what you want as an athlete although, they are sometimes hard to avoid. Therefore, you should use this time to take the opportunity to work on some other areas in your arsenal that might help you when you come back and return to play. You don’t need to lose your conditioning, you don’t need to lose your strength, you don’t need to lose all your power. It’s important to realize that even though one limb is injured, the rest of the body can still train, in fact by training other areas of your body you can get a systemic effect that can actually promote further healing of your injury. It’s important to devise a plan (like you would in a normal training program), which will include a program that helps you train around an injury and in conjunction with the rehabilitation program.
Train your whole body
As an example; Let’s say you’ve got a shoulder injury but you want keep your legs strong, what exercises can you use to keep my legs strong? You’ve got Squats (use a safety squat bar, that you can use even with the shoulder injury), leg press, split squats, lunges, single leg squats, glute bridges, hamstring curls, calf raises, the list goes on and on. There’s so many different ways to be creative and still get what we need as an athlete while we’re injured.
Good rehab is good training
It’s important to also focus on the rest of your body while you’re going through rehabilitation, because when you are in rehab the rest of your body can de-condition (due to immobility or restricted exercise) which means uninjured areas of your body are now at a higher risk of also getting injured when you return to play. It’s really important that when you’ve got a rehabilitation program, that you’re training the whole body. Essentially, a good rehabilitation program is just a good S & C program with modifications for your injury. Which means you should be able to make some pretty good progress in all areas injured or not. Another important reason to train everything as a whole is so you don’t develop significant asymmetries (one side becoming way stronger than the other), small asymmetries are ok, although you want to avoid large differences between limbs. This can lead to an overload of either the injured side (which may now be stronger than the un-injured side) or the un-injured side. Too much load on one side can lead to further injuried down the track.
In essence, a good rehabilitation program is just a good modified strength and conditioning program. In conjunction with a good Physio and a good S&C, you can turn yourself into a more resilient athlete and ultimately that should be your goal coming off a rehabilitation program to be better than you were before.