Feeling like your body has been beat up after a long game is something rugby players can understand well, but if these areas of discomfort are not properly addressed, they can lead to repeated movement injuries that require further care.
Putting effort into recovery will significantly reduce the amount of time off training and off the field due to injuries, and increase the amount of quality practice you can get in! Read on to find out what can be done after an injury.
What do you do once you’ve had an injury?
It’s easier to remember to “Recover well before paying the P.R.I.C.E. so you can show your body some L.O.V.E.” — and we’ll go through these recovery acronyms today.
Protect AND Rest: Reduce movement and loading of the injured part right after injury to protect from further injury. Use supports such as crutches if it involves the legs and slings for an injured shoulder helps to rest the injured joint. If there are any open wounds, protect them by dressing them up well.
Ice: Wrap an ice pack in a towel so that it doesn’t directly touch your skin and cause an ice burn, and apply for 10-15minutes every other hour.
Compression AND Elevation: If swelling is present, your doctor or trainer can show you how to wrap the body part specifically to reduce swelling (figure-8 compression bandaging). Elevating the swollen part above heart level drains fluid down and away from the injured area.
Load: Recovery always requires an active approach, and early loading on injured structures has actually proven to accelerate recovery by improving remodeling and tissue tolerance! (Khan et al., 2009)
Optimism: The brain also plays a significant part in healing — stay realistic but optimistic. Mental strength and having a positive attitude is linked to reduced inflammation in the body and more consistent training, hence better recovery rates (Wadey et al., 2013).
Vascularisation AND Exercise: Vascularisation means improving your cardiovascular health which is important as aerobic exercise increases blood flow to repairing tissues. Exercise specifically targets mobility, balance, and strength, graduating you phase by phase towards returning to 100% in your game.
Road to Recovery with Chiro & Physio Care
Phase 1 (Red) is usually soon after an injury has happened. There might be pain & difficulty with things that normally seem easy, and this is where P.R.I.C.E comes in handy. Your chiro or physio can help to advise and show the best ways to reduce overuse and what supports can be done at this stage.
Phase 2 (Yellow) is when things have started to stabilise, but aren’t the same as before. You can’t go back to doing what you want to do yet, and if you do, the chances of another injury is high. Lots of L.O.V.E. begins here — getting started on loading the injured structures well helps to make sure they remodel and repair well before you start on Phase 3 to further strengthen it.
Rehabilitation through physiotherapy and chiropractic care focuses a lot here as the knowledge of HOW and WHEN to load a structure is super important! Too much, too soon is a formula for re-injury; too little, too slow is not enough to see any changes.
Phase 3 (Green) is where you’ve gotten stronger and are actively working to get to that stage of returning to your activity/sport! If you’ve gone back to your game and feel the injury flare-up, you’re not ready for Green and you need to head back to Phase 2.
It’s not about how long it will take, but about how far you can go
Very rarely can a single visit cure what you have been dealing with for months or years, especially if it’s a recurrent injury! First-time injuries of less severity may take a shorter time to heal, but it depends on what has been injured.
Because of the many injuries that a rugby player may face, that’s why an initial consultation is important to find out how severe your injury is, the time-frames for recovery, and whether further imaging like an X-Ray, Ultrasound, or MRI is needed.
Once a clear idea of the injury has been set, it’s easier to identify the steps needed to reach goals while preventing re-injury. Preventing injuries are a priority with us as we know that having to cut short your game times stops you from going even further. Stay tuned for November’s edition of RAGBI.MY to dive even deeper with Spinefit Chiro & Physio: Preventing injuries through strengthening.
This article was part of a 3 part series of articles that first appeared in RAGBI.MY’s October 2020 issue. Download [PDF]
Khan, K. M. et al. (2009) Mechanotherapy: how physical therapists’ prescription of exercise promotes tissue repair. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 43(4), p.247-52. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bjsm.2008.054239.
Wadey, R. et al. (2013) Effect of dispositional optimism before and after injury. Med Sci Sports Exerc, 45(2), p.387-94. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e31826ea8e3.