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Emily’s Football Focus - Injury Rehabilitation in Football: An Overview

Having previously looked at preventing injuries in football, this article will focus on the other side of the issue - rehabilitation from injury. We will have a look at the process from initial assessment all the way through to getting back on the pitch, and how Sports Therapy can play a vital role in this process.

Initial Assessment and Diagnosis

  • The first step of any footballing injury is a thorough assessment so that an accurate working diagnosis can be made. An assessment will usually consist of looking at the range of movement, strength, stability, functional movements and special tests to help rule in/out certain injuries. Sometimes further investigations such as a scan may be needed to confirm a diagnosis and to make sure that nothing has been missed. A Sports Therapist can provide sound advice on the appropriate imaging needed for these situations. From here, a personalised rehabilitation programme can be devised.

Injury Management

Especially in the early stages, and throughout the whole process, injury management is really important - this entails pain management, minimising inflammation and preventing any further damage to the injured area. We have spoken about the use of Cryotherapy for injuries in previous articles and this is a great place to put this to use. 

Once the initial stages of the injury have passed and the injury has made appropriate progress, as assessed and judged by a Sports Therapist, we can start to try and restore the original condition of the injury/joint/muscle. This entails range of motion, strength and control progressed gradually in a safe manner as guided by a Sports Therapist. Some objective markers may help to guide the progression of rehabilitation and ensure that the injury is headed in the right direction!

Once we have met these objective markers and it is deemed safe and appropriate to start ramping up rehabilitation, we can focus more on a return to Football phase. This will include improving muscle strength and endurance of all appropriate muscle groups, improving power, restoring any aerobic fitness lost and focusing on sport-specific drills. A Sports Therapist has an extensive knowledge of the aspects to include at each stage and can make sure that they are implemented both safely and effectively at each point.

Rehabilitation Techniques and Examples

Rehabilitation exercises aim to restore strength, flexibility, and function to the injured area, as well as address any underlying biomechanical imbalances or weaknesses that may have contributed to the injury. Some examples are:

  • Range of motion exercises which aim to restore normal movement and flexibility at a joint

  • Strengthening exercises which aim to build strength not just around the injured area, but all areas surrounding it to make sure the injured area is as strong as possible and not treated in isolation

  • Balance training can help to improve control and stability around a joint, which may actually help the risk of re-injuring the area

  • Functional exercises are exercises that include aspects of all of the above and mimic any Football-specific movements to ensure that you are ready to perform these movements on the pitch again

Returning to Football Training and Matches

Getting back to full training and playing Football following an injury requires careful planning and coordination between a Sports Therapist/Physio and the player, as well as others such as coaching staff and managers. A Sports Therapist can help to come up with a return to play protocol for each individual player according to injury and circumstances - this way, we can make sure that the player is both physically and mentally prepared to get back into full Football as they were before. These protocols will start with simple low intensity work, usually without the ball, and gradually working up to incorporating a ball. Gradually, this will advance into higher intensity work before beginning to get back into full training with team mates. It may take some time and training sessions may have to be adapted to meet player needs, but patience is key at the late stages and it is important not to go back into anything too soon!

Overall, rehabilitation from a footballing injury is a multifactorial process that requires good management from the off to ensure the best outcomes. A Sport Therapist can assist and guide Footballers right from the very moment they are injured through to returning to play after injury. By following best guidelines for assessment/diagnosis, injury management, rehabilitation techniques, and return to play protocols, players can maximise their chances of a successful recovery and return to the field stronger and more resilient than before.

Give us a call to book in with Emily on 02034944343 or email or you can also book online here.

She would love to serve you!


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