Therapeutic exercise: A vital aspect of sport rehabilitation

by Community Submission | May 1, 2013

The benefits of exercise are well-known for maintaining a healthy lifestyle, but what happens if you have an injury or pain? Should you exercise at all?

Therapeutic exercise is an essential part of the rehabilitation process. It is used to control pain, inflammation, maintain and improve range of motion, restore strength, and re-establish neuromuscular control.

When an injury occurs, it is essential to first identify the cause and then to prescribe the appropriate exercise based on the process of healing. Many injured participants do not take these exercises seriously and fail to complete their rehabilitation, which may lead to increased scar tissue and a chronic injury.

The right type and intensity of exercise is vital to maximize gains in function and minimize the risk of making the injury worse. Therapeutic exercise should be prescribed by a health professional who understands the sequence of healing and the inflammatory process.

When an injury occurs, one may lose range of motion, flexibility, strength and fitness. A rehab program should address these key components.

Following an injury, the body may forget how to integrate information coming in from multiple sources. Neuromuscular retraining should be introduced to teach the body conscious control of a specific movement pattern. If this is not introduced, compensatory problems may develop.

The order of exercise progression is important, as we do not want to stack fitness over dysfunction. Restoration of mobility must first be introduced while establishing core stability at the same time. Once this has been achieved, strengthening and functional progressions should be incorporated. This involves a series of gradually progressive exercises specifically designed to prepare an individual to return to sport or physical activity.

When it comes to mending tissue, exercise is a powerful medicine. There are many types of equipment that are great for rehabilitation, including the Pilates Reformer machine. Through the use of springs, the reformer provides assistance, allowing the injured to move through range of motion with ease and control. The resistance is gradual, reducing stress on the tendons and ligaments of the joints.

When an individual is injured, he/she may not be able to participate in traditional weight-bearing activities. A new state-of-the-art piece of equipment called the FitWall will aide in the reintroduction of training using a non-impact vertical aspect. Vertical training decompresses many joints in the body, effectively allowing one to exercise without the ill effects of ground-based exercise joint compression.

Exercise is an important aspect to the rehabilitation process, if it is performed in a safe, sensible manner.


Charlotte Savela is a registered physiotherapist and owner of Accelerated Physio and Sports Rehab.

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