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The 5 Stages of Sport and Injury Rehabilitation

Whether you’re a professional athlete or an aspiring one, sports injuries can occur to anyone in any activity. Proper rehabilitation is key in getting you back out there, doing what you enjoy best while assuring that the injury isn’t likely to reoccur.

Knowing when you can return to your sport of choice safely is an incredibly important factor, as many athletes return too soon and cause further damage to their bodies. Our team of highly trained professionals is experienced in performance-based care, using an integrated approach to create a seamless recovery experience and training approach.

Let’s dive into the five stages of sport and injury prevention.

Stage 1: Protection and Offloading

After you’ve experienced an injury, it’s important to protect the area right off the bat and offload any stress so that it doesn’t experience any more damage. You’ll probably be experiencing quite a bit of pain following an injury, and taking away the load allows the area to rest and reduces that pain.

Protecting the area also supports healing. In the first few days following an injury, the area is often inflamed, and that inflammation can progressively increase over the coming days. As the body is working to remove the damaged tissue and debris from the injury site, protecting it can help this speed up this internal healing.

Stage 2: Protected Reloading and Reconditioning

Once the pain and swelling have been managed, it’s time to slowly re-introduce load-bearing weight to the area, which not only helps to speed healing but can help make the area more resilient in the repair process. We want to work towards not just healing the area but making it stronger.

Alongside reloading is reconditioning, where strength, mobility, and capacity are introduced through the repetition of drills and technical movements. This can be some of the hardest mental work in sports rehabilitation, but it’s the stage that really pulls you forward.

Stage 3: Sport-Specific Strength, Conditioning and Skills

Once your injury has calmed, you’re tolerating loading, the pain has subsided or is gone completely, and your mobility has improved, we zone in on increasing the capacity of your injured area in ways that are specific to the sport you play. This helps us train the body to use proper form and puts stress on it in specific ways to minimize a future injury.

While you may be feeling really great at this point, this isn’t the time to fully return to your sport. Doing so too early could cause a relapse.

In this stage, we’ll focus on things like:

  • Muscular endurance and power

  • Agility

  • Balance

  • Cardiovascular endurance

  • Capacity to change direction

This stage is about identifying deficits in these areas, determining how significant the deficits are, and addressing them through a tailored recovery program. This is the stage that will have you performing your best yet.

Stage 4: Return to Your Sport

After a lot of hard work and dedication on your end, you now get to return to your sport! Depending on your injury and sport of choice, a gradual return might still be needed, and this is something we’ll work on individually with you.

Stage 5: Prevent Further Injuries

Your rehabilitation doesn’t stop at Stage 4! Injury prevention is one of the most important stages, where we work with you to identify and manage risk factors during and following your return to play. Prevention may look like regular check-ups or a certain treatment plan, or it could be something else entirely, depending on your sport and injury. What’s important is that you use the education our team has provided you in order to continue on your healing track.


Have you recently experienced an injury? Maybe a past sports injury is causing you pain? Reach out to our team and let us develop an individualized plan that will have you feeling your best.


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