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When you’re a competitive athlete, getting injured is a devastating experience. The reality of not being able to participate in your sport for weeks or even months is almost as excruciating as the pain of the injury.

When you’re an injured athlete, your top priority is to heal completely before heading back to training. The temptation to get back to the field as soon as possible will be strong, but going back before you’re healed can set you back even further. You could be sidelined for good instead of temporarily.

Wondering what you need to do to completely recover before heading back to training? Here are some crucial steps.

Rest

For athletes who are used to training multiple times a week if not every day, rest is the hardest part of injury recovery. But it’s also the most essential part. Your body needs rest, for both the injured part and your whole body, to heal well.

Using the injured body part as little as possible will allow the injury to repair itself. Getting a lot of sleep is also an important part of allowing your injury to heal. Our bodies use sleep cycles to perform maintenance and repair, so the more sleep you get during your injury recovery the quicker you’ll heal.

If you’re worried about getting your head out of the game while you’re recovering, there are actually ways you can use your rest time to keep your head in the game. If you have videos of your training or competitions, watch them and make note of how you can improve your technique when you’re back. You can also watch your sport as much as possible.

Just because you’re sidelined doesn’t mean you have to be totally out of the game.

Physical Therapy

Any serious athlete knows that physical therapy is an essential part of injury recovery. Trying to reintroduce movement and exercise on your own can lead to re-injury and extend your recovery time.

Find a physical therapist who specializes in sports injuries and follow their recommendations to the letter. This means attending all your appointments and doing all of the prescribed exercises between sessions.

While it’s tempting to do more exercise between appointments, over-exertion will likely lead to re-injury and set back your recovery. So, stick to the exact plan your physical therapist prescribes.

Make Use of Recovery Aids

These days there’s all sorts of medical technology available for use at home. Machines that were once only available in a physical therapist’s office can now be bought at a pharmacy or rented from a medical supply company.

If you have the funds to buy or rent recovery aids, this can be a huge boost for your recovery.

You can get an electrical stimulation machine, also called a TENS machine, at most pharmacies. This machine sends safe electrical currents through your muscles to stimulate them and stimulate blood flow, which improves healing.

If you experienced a joint injury you can also look into CPM machine rental. A CPM machine gently moves your joint for you so there isn’t strain on your muscles and tendons. This helps you get your range of motion back faster and helps rebuild the muscles around the injury.

More Tips for an Injured Athlete

Being an injured athlete is difficult both physically and mentally. You’ll need to take great care of your body and your mind while you heal. Following these suggestions helps ensure that your injury heals the right way so you can go back to your sport in better shape than ever before.

For more tips about how to take care of your body and your mind as an athlete, check out the Health and Fitness section of our website.