How to rehab like a professional athlete after injury or surgery
It seems like professional athletes bounce back after an injury or surgery incredibly quickly. Returning to play not long after their injury at the same level they were playing at before the injury occurred. Physical therapist Joshua Vaughan shared some tips on how you can rehab like a professional athlete after an injury or surgery and get back to your life sooner.
What should you look for in a physical therapist?
Vaughan said there are a couple of important things to consider when looking for a physical therapist. He recommends the following:
- Seek out someone who has experience with your specific diagnosis or surgery. Do your homework in the same way you would pick out your surgeon. If you’re an athlete, seek out someone who has a track record of getting athletes back to high levels of competition.
- Seek out a physical therapist who has strong understanding of your sport or activity. The better your therapist understands the specific demands of your sport, the more they can help you return to high level performance.
How early should you start the rehab process?
As early as possible. Every injury or surgery has its own timeline of recovery, but the research clearly shows that early intervention from a physical therapist can accelerate your return to activity. For some injuries this might mean you hit the ground running on day one. For others, it might mean you lay out a specific plan for your return to activity and ensure that you get started with a clear understanding of your rehab goals over the coming weeks.
What diet changes are necessary for recovery?
There are several easy changes you can make to your diet to facilitate your recovery from an injury or surgery.
- Eat protein. Up your protein intake to four times a day. Include eggs, poultry and lean beef as well as low fat dairy products like greek yogurt and cottage cheese. Protein serves as the building blocks for muscle growth which is vital in your recovery.
- Get your vitamins. Vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium and zinc aid in your recovery and boost immunity. Try increasing your intake of whole foods like sweet potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, spinach, citrus fruits and colorful vegetables.
Are there any long-term precautions to consider when returning to play or activities?
There are some potential long-term negatives in returning to play or activities too quickly, which is another reason why having an experienced physical therapist in your corner is so important. While all sports have inherent risk associated with them, having a physical therapist who can help guide you on the proper steps, timeframes and put you through the appropriate testing, can minimize that risk.