Sports Injury Recovery: When Can You Return to Play?

How soon can I get back in the game?

It’s the question on every injured athlete’s mind. The answer: It depends. Physical therapists can help speed the process — and let you know when it’s safe to lace up again.

Physical Therapy Timeline

Physical therapy is usually part of the treatment process for sports injuries, whether you’re recovering from ACL surgery or dealing with recurring shoulder pain.

Treatment timelines vary a lot, depending on the injury and the patient.

Want to streamline recovery? Here’s your guide, courtesy of Seth Blee, PT, DPT, CFMT, CSCS, a physical therapist at the Inova Physical Therapy Center and team physical therapist for the Washington Nationals.

  • Be patient. Healing takes time. Rush back, and you might reinjure the same body part — or hurt something else because your mechanics are off. “When athletes come back to play too soon, they often wind up suffering another injury,” Blee said.
  • Do your part. “Following the physical therapy regimen is the most important thing you can do,” Blee said. That means doing your recommended exercises at home, in addition to physical therapy in the clinic. “People often ask me why the pros get back to play so quickly after an injury. They’re working on recovery all day, every day,” Blee added.
  • Trust the experts. A good physical therapist will let you know when it’s time to get back in the game. “We look at balance, mobility, strength, control and other parameters depending on the injury and the sport,” Blee said. “If you don’t pass the physical performance test, you’re not ready.”

Find your nearest Inova Physical Therapy Center, or call 877-604-6682 for an appointment.

Inova Physical Therapy is the official physical therapy partner of the Washington Nationals and the Washington Redskins.



Leave a Comment