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Assure Rehab

Assure Rehab

When should I return to training after an injury?

Your instructor is messaging you “ Are you coming to train today?”. 

You replied, “ I am not sure, I still have pain and my ankle is sore, will let you know”. 

If you are looking at this post,  most likely you have hurt yourself playing sports. Perhaps you have sprained your ankle while fulfilling your promise of going on a 5km hike with your rather adventurous friend. You are also wondering when you can get back into your favorite group fitness class. 

Hopefully we will be able to help you answer your questions! For this blog post, I will be using an example of an ankle sprain, but the principles can generally be used for most injuries you face. These are from my experience as a physiotherapist and also the most recent evidence. They are meant as general advice since no two injuries are the same.

How serious is your injury? 

There are new acronyms for injury management (RICE, POLICE), and it can be confusing.  I like to use my very own: KISS(Keep it simple (insert your own S word))! 

If you are able to walk around with a relatively normal gait and minimal pain, you should be moving as much as you can without aggravating your symptoms. Ice is a controversial modality to use these days, but it has worked quite well for most of my clients in terms of reducing swelling and pain. Remember to use a towel on your skin as a barrier between the ice pack and only to place the ice pack on for 20 minutes at a time. 

At this point, you can return to training after the swelling goes down, and you can even train with some pain(Less than 3 out of 10 in the pain scale). However, since your muscles are weaker from the injury, pacing is key and generally I would recommend that you start with ⅓-½ of your usual intensity and see how you feel the next day. Don’t be shy to let your instructor know that you have hurt yourself, a good instructor should be able to guide you and/or change your exercise so you won’t be in discomfort/pain while performing your exercise. 

When should you NOT return to your training?

With the guidance of a qualified allied health professional in rehabilitation (Exercise Physiologist/Physiotherapist), you should be able to continue training even though you have hurt yourself. Evidence has shown that exercise is great in terms of modulating your pain, and facilitating the healing process. However, there are instances where training would be counter-productive. These examples are not exhaustive but are common ones. 

  1. Constant and high pain levels: When the pain is severe and affects your daily activities or even sleep, that’s when you should see your doctor for a consultation. If the GP deems there are no “red flags”(signs where therapy/movement could make things worse, they would usually refer onwards to an allied health professional to help you move without pain again. This is usually when a physiotherapist, along with an exercise physiologist, will be able to help you with your pain levels and movement.
  2. Inability to weight-bear(put your weight on the floor) with the injured foot for more than a few steps: This could be a sign of fracture and a GP may refer you onwards for a scan if indicated. 
  3. You have had this injury before and the injury is reoccurring: This is a sign of a poor movement pattern and possibly weakness in your muscle, continuing to train when the injuries are recurring will make things worse! Exercise Physiologists are exercise specialists, and are able to assess your movement pattern and strength to prevent the injury from happening again. 

Hopefully the information above will help you make an informed decision on when to train again when you have hurt yourself. If you feel like it’s an information overload and would like a friendly Exercise Physiologist at Assure Rehab to help guide you through your injury and back to your favorite group exercise class, give us a shout out on our website: assurerehab.com or (08) 6555 8619 to find out how we can help!

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