If you’ve ever experienced an injury, you’re probably well-versed in the pain, time and patience that comes with the healing process. Whilst injuries vary in severity, they all require a healthy amount of rest and rehabilitation. Regardless of the injury, it’s best to start strength training sooner rather than later to rebuild mobility and strength. In this article, Human Strength Hub explores when you should start strengthening after an injury and where to find any important information you may need.
When should I start strengthening after an injury? In short, you should try and start strength training as soon as possible after obtaining an injury. Essentially, the longer an individual goes without moving, the longer it will take to get back to normal fitness levels.
Keep reading to learn more about sports specific strength training after injury.
When To Start Strengthening After a Sports Injury?
Most people will experience some kind of physical injury in their lifetime, especially within contact sports. The general recommendation for those who have been injured is to start rehab with range-of-motion exercises around 72 hours after injury and to continue these movements for a period of several weeks or months. However, it’s important to remember that whilst it is best to begin strength training as soon as possible after injury, it will depend on the type and severity of the injury. Before beginning strength training after injury, you may want to consider these factors:
- Doctor’s Advice – Before you begin any kind of strength training, remember to talk to your doctor to make sure you are ready to begin exercising again.
- Mentally Prepare – Once you have had the all clear from your doctor, spend a bit of time thinking about why you got injured and if there is anything different you may be able to do going forward. Before beginning strength training, it’s important to remain positive. It can be disheartening at first however, remind yourself that you will regain the speed and strength you once had with time.
- Start Slow – You need to be patient when you start strengthening after an injury. A good guideline is to start at about 50% of your ‘normal level’ and increase only 10% to 15% each week, assuming your symptoms don’t flare up during or after each session.
- Branch Out – Doing a variety of activities that work different parts of your body is key after an injury. This will help you stay fit while the part of your body that’s injured regains strength. It can also help you avoid getting injured again.
- Listen To Your Body – Whilst exercising, a little discomfort is okay however, if you are experiencing pain, it is best to stop. If the pain continues after you have completed your exercise, take that as a sign that you’ve gone too far.
How To Avoid Sports Related Injuries?
When it comes to avoiding sports related injuries, there are many different techniques you can follow. These include:
- Creating a fitness plan that includes cardiovascular exercise, strength training and flexibility. Training different parts of your body will help decrease your chance of injury.
- Exercise regularly.
- Remember to warm-up and cool down correctly after exercise or sports.
- Stay hydrated.
- Do strength training with a structure prgram.
- Always take your time during strength training. Remember to go through the full range of motion with each repetition.
Enhancing the body’s ability to absorb force is achieved through increasing tissue density, strength of ligaments and tendons, and overall muscle adaptability. It’s not solely about individual muscle size but rather the strength of the entire kinetic
chain. Weak links in this chain can elevate the risk of injury. It’s therefore important that you address the three types of imbalances – within a muscular chain, between symmetrical chains and between left and right sides. Remember to place particular emphasis on reducing left-right disparities.
When it comes to sports involving physical contact, injuries stemming from interactions with opponents are prevalent. In sports where opponents’ actions contribute to the impact, injury prevention remains challenging despite efforts to improve muscular balance. Martial arts, for instance, can lead to injuries through kicks, punches and other physical actions. Even with weight and strength training in place, these injures cannot be entirely avoided.
In comparison, when there is no direct physical contact, the controlled environment allows for better preparation, minimising injury risks. This does not mean however that injuries do not occur. Despite the lack of physical contact, injuries can still take place, much like the way a car might break down without being hit by another vehicle. This analogy encapsulates the importance of being physically prepared for non-contact injuries.
To effectively reduce non-contact injuries, focusing on optimising muscular balance becomes essential. This involves training the body’s muscle chains to absorb greater force, as injuries occur when the force applied to a tissue exceeds its capacity to absorb it. This principle applies to muscles, ligaments, and bones.
Importance of Strength Training
Strength training is a vital complement to sport-specific training. It provides a structured and progressive approach, featuring clear guidelines for weight progression, repetitions and movement patterns. This structured framework ensures safety and minimises injury risk, provided correct mechanics and tempo are maintained. Whilst the injury risk in proper weight training is generally low, the rarity of individuals adhering to controlled practices skews statistical observations.
Balanced musculature not only decreases injury risk but also establishes the foundation for escalating strength levels. A well-rounded muscular balance fosters incremental growth in maximum and explosive strength. In addition, optimal muscular balance also translates into improved movement economy or posture, as evident in various sports like running, sprinting and jumping. This connection between balanced muscles and efficient mechanics highlights the significance of achieving muscular equilibrium for enhanced performance in sports.
To read more, take a look at our article, ‘How Does Strength Training Help in Sports?’.
Stability is a direct outcome of strength training. After examining injury statistics, Olympic Weightlifting stands out as a sport with remarkable knee stability and injury resilience. The knee’s primary stabilisers, the quadriceps and hamstrings, find exceptional development through back squat and front squat variations. Adept at moving two to three times their bodyweight, Olympic Weightlifters showcase outstanding knee stability according to the Klatt Test. Their robust quadriceps and hamstrings, sculpted by back and front squat variations, form a solid foundation. Let’s take a closer look at this example:
Interestingly, Olympic Weightlifters tend to forgo unilateral exercises, focusing primarily on squat variations. The strength of their quadriceps, hamstrings and lower back, essential for lumbar erector spinae, results from these foundational movements. Unlike split squats, which omit lower back and lumbar erector training, back and front squat variations comprehensively help develop these areas. A stronger lower back not only bolsters overall stability but also contributes to stable knees through fortified quadriceps and hamstrings.
When addressing knee rehabilitation from a weight training perspective, the initial goal is to restore full joint flexibility. Achieving complete knee flexion becomes paramount during this phase. Among exercise groups, split squat variations excel at facilitating this process. In post-knee injury rehabilitation, split squats have consistently served as a primary tool to reclaim joint range. Once range is regained, the focus naturally transitions from split squats to more efficient squat variations, ensuring a well-rounded approach to rehabilitation and overall knee health.
If you are also interested in learning about how strength training correlates with nutrition, have a look at our article, ‘How Does Strength Training Affect Nutritional Requirements?’
Prehab or Rehabilitation at Human Strength Hub
Here at Human Strength Hub, we understand that staying injury-free is one of the most fundamental necessities for everyone who trains. Rehab or rehabilitation is returning to full training after an injury through training and mobility work.
If you are recovering from an injury, our strength coach will help you enhance your muscular balance through optimal exercise selection and program design. That way, you can return to training as quickly as possible. Choose from a range of our personal coaching plans to suit your requirements. Book a consultation today to find out how we can help you achieve your goals.