Sean Van Staden
Columnist
3 minute read
1 Jun 2014
6:00 am

Ultimate professional guide to recovery

Sean Van Staden

There is one thing you need to remember as an athlete – and as harsh as it may come across – no one cares more about your injury than you do.

Sean van Staden

You need to take matters into your own hands and take immediate action in recovering from your injury. There are various injuries that you can get but let’s say for the purpose of this article that it doesn’t involve an operation. I will tackle that topic with medical experts at a later date.

Of the most common injuries associated with your sport you can look to a one to eight weeks recovery time, depending on what type or the grade severity of the injury. At the bottom end of the pain scale you will feel a slight tenderness and uncomfortableness and at the top end of the scale you literally can’t continue to perform in your sport because of the pain. At both ends of the scale and the in-between bits you have to take immediate action.

Ice and compression – You need to apply immediate ice to the inflamed region. Ice helps reduce the swelling, bruising or internal bleeding associated with the body’s natural inflammatory response. Say you rolled your ankle, and for people who know all about this, you would understand that your ankle can quickly lose shape and resemble a rugby ball. Apply an elastic bandage to the affected area for compression which helps with stabilising and preventing it from swelling out of control. Understand that if you have severe swelling, a physiotherapist can do nothing to help you recover until the swelling comes down. If you leave the affected area for more than 24 hours un-iced, this can delay your recovery time by a further two weeks or more. The idea behind immediate action is that you are preventing the worst-case scenario from happening and your time for recovery with the right professionals will be sooner, which ultimately means you will be back in action, where you belong, sooner.

Sports doctors – If you had to be carried or limped off the field or court then the second most important action to take is NOT to see your general doctor but rather a sports doctor. These are highly skilled people and are usually surgeons. Their expert advice is invaluable because sports doctors have years of practical experience through countless operations. They would be the best people to diagnose your condition.

Physiotherapists – I consider physiotherapists to be worker bees. They are the ones that will take the advice from sports doctors, gather more information by assessing you further and then spring into action and help with the repair process. Physios have typically the latest and most expensive machinery which is not affordable by mere mortals and will help you recover faster than if you just left the injury alone. They also provide you with additional exercises to help strengthen the affected area at home.

Biokineticists – The next step in the recovery chain and the third person you need to see after the physiotherapist is a biokineticist. Their main focus is to ascertain WHY you got injured in the first place. Remember, unless it was a freak accident, your body broke down for a reason. That reason being a biomechanical weakness. Bios assess alignment, posture and muscle imbalance and from this information, work with you in improving your weaknesses and help prevent your body from injuries re-occuring.

Sports scientists – We provide a role that none of the above professionals are experts in. The role of sports scientists is getting your body match-fit again. You have been off for a number of weeks, which means there is no way you can go back to playing and performing with maximum intensity. Sports scientists focus on corrective movement mechanics, running mechanics and foot placement to make you more efficient in play. Each sport has different rates of rest periods, distances, intensities, loads and demands placed on your body and this can even extend to position type eg, a prop v eighthman in rugby. General conditioning will not get you where you need to be. Scientists will take all these factors into account and get you back in play, fitter, stronger and faster in a shorter space of time.

Good luck with your recovery.