When to Choose Physical Therapy for Sports Injuries

See when it's most beneficial to choose physical therapy for sports injuries!

Today we have a special guest post for you!  We are welcoming Angie, a sports mom and physical therapist.


Being the mom of a young athlete is difficult. Finding the right mix of coach, cheerleader, nurse (and lets not forget mom) is a hard thing to do. When your child is injured in a sporting event, our first instinct is either “Oh my they need to go to the ER” or “Get up and get back on defense”. No matter which instinct belongs to you, it is difficult to know when your young athlete needs medical attention or just time to pull themselves together.

As with any injury, there are specific phases the body goes through. The first phase is the acute phase.  This typically lasts 4-6 days. The injured area is red, swollen and hot. During the acute phase, RICE is recommended (Rest, Ice (Ice for 15-20mins every hour as needed for pain and swelling), Compression, and Elevation). Once an athlete has been injured, it’s typical to go and see a medical doctor within 24-48 hours to ensure no fractures or other serious injuries have occurred. After seeing their medical doctor, the athlete is ready for physical therapy. In the acute phase, the physical therapist can assist in management of the pain and swelling of the injured area. The second phase of the injury process is the sub-acute phase. This phase lasts approximately 6 weeks after the injury. During these six weeks, the soft tissue that was injured is working to repair itself and heal. Protection of the injured site is recommended during sporting events and practice. During the sub-acute phase, a physical therapist can instruct the athlete on exercises and stretches to ensure proper strength, stability and flexibility is being returned to the injured area. Also, if the athlete is in need of bracing for support or protection, the physical therapist can assist in finding and fitting the proper device. Allowing an injured athlete to return to play too soon and without the proper rehabilitation is setting them up for repeat injury and possibly a worse injury than the original. The final stage in the injury process is the remodeling phase. At this time, the injured area no longer needs protection and will feel mostly “normal” to the athlete. But the underlying structures that are weak will continue to strengthen and repair themselves as needed. Players are often careful with the injured part, but are released to full playing capacity.

When to Choose Physical Therapy for Sports Injuries from Sports Mom Survival Guide

Young athletes may benefit from physical therapy from many aspects. A physical therapist can recognize the time required to heal, but are able to give exercises to stay strong. The athlete then feels like they have a “contribution” to the healing process. The athletes are often instructed by the physical therapist about the mechanics of the body and can learn a lot about their performance while in the healing process! Plus, as we moms know, having our young athletes stay still for long periods of time is difficult and the authority of both the physician and physical therapist is helpful in the household.

Often physical therapy clinics will have “free injury screens” to help athletes determine if a visit to the medical doctor is a must or if the injury can be treated with physical therapy. Call your local clinic to find out if this is an option.

For questions regarding physical therapy and young athletes, please see us at www.advrehab.com