Return to sport

Chapter 6 Return to sport

Returning an athlete to their sport as quickly as possible following an injury is the challenge to sports medics today. The athlete’s aim is often to return to the sport as quickly as they possibly can from the injury, so it is the sports medic’s job to guide them through this process, while also working to prevent a recurrence of the injury.

Consequently, a sports medic must have a clear understanding of the pathophysiology that will occur after an injury, together with an in-depth understanding of what the athlete’s sport or event actually entails. This knowledge base will allow the sports medic to accurately plan a treatment and rehabilitation programme which takes into consideration both the physiological processes of healing which are occurring and the full physical demands of the athlete.


Once a tissue in the body is injured, it undergoes the same process each time to repair itself. The process is a very complicated, chemically mediated reaction and therefore a simplified version of this process will be discussed here.


A successful rehabilitation programme needs to address some key areas:

If these factors, together with the other principles of developing goals are used, successful rehabilitation programmes can be devised, which will enable athletes to safely return to playing with the hope that recurrence is less likely.

Goal setting

Goal setting is often popular with both athletes and sports medics alike. It allows a plan to be put in place with timeframes allocated to each goal and gives the player something to aim at. However, it is important that the sports medic and athlete are realistic when they are going through this process. The goals should include both short-term and long-term goals and they should therefore go through the SMART programme below to ensure that the maximum benefit is gained from the rehabilitation programme.

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Jul 18, 2016 | Posted by in SPORT MEDICINE | Comments Off on Return to sport

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