Returning to sport or physical activity before an injury is healed is likely to cause greater damage.The indicators that provide suitability of the athlete to return to play are governed by several factors. Degree of mobility and pain free movement are both important aspects for an athlete. Appropriate warm-up procedures, taping, monitoring progress and progressive involvement back into the game are used as keys to the readiness of return to play in particular sports.
The degree of mobility around the injured area needs to be complete and relatively pain free to allow the greatest chance of playing to full potential. The athlete should be able to perform movements and skills similar to an event or game situation.
Returning an athlete to play may depend on them meeting a certain criteria or fitness test to determine readiness. Having both pre-test and post-test results and monitoring the progress for fitness allows the coach or medical practitioner to make an educated decision on the player's present fitness without risking further injury.
After an injury, an athlete may feel quite anxious about returning to play. Even if the athlete is physically recovered from an injury, they may not be psychologically ready to return to elite competition. In this case, a coach may play them in a lower division until they are back to their best.
During a warm-up, there may need to be more focus on exercises that work the recovered area and prepare the area for the demands it may encounter in the game/event.
Individual sports will have their own specific return to play policies and procedures. The athlete's wellbeing should be central to any return to play policy. Contact sports usually have a policy about returning to play after a head injury.
Along with the physical and psychological recovery from injury, an athlete will often feel other pressures to return to play, e.g. a fear of letting the team down if they don't participate, pressure from sponsors and coaches in deciding events/games and financial pressures. If an athlete returns to play too early after an injury, they risk long term injury which can be season or career threatening. Using painkillers also increases the likelihood of further damage to an existing injury due to the painkiller masking the body's natural response.
|Research and evaluate skill and physical tests that could be used to indicate readiness for a return to play for a selected injury and sport.|
Further understanding of return to play can be found on the following links:
Reflect on how return to play after injury rehabilitation is managed, e.g.