Return to sport Physiotherapy Chiropractic Rehabilitation Sport A.I.M Muscles and Joints
By Jett Trembath

It is important when returning to sport after an injury that you meet all the relevant demands for your chosen sport. Meeting these criteria through a structured return to play program will reduce the likelihood of re-injury and provide confidence to the athlete that they will be able to perform at the same level or even better than they did previously. As mentioned, each sport requires different criteria, and it is vital your practitioner understands this and what is required to perform your chosen sport in order to safely return. For example, tackling in rugby league, rugby union and AFL. Ball control and balance in soccer. Upper limb endurance and strength in tennis, gymnastics and chess.

A generalised structured outline for upper limb and lower limb injuries can be found below:

Lower Limb Injuries
Equal range of motion either side
Strength equal both sides (In a shortened and lengthened position)
Explosive/quick repetitive movements
Plyometric training (Bounding/pre-running drills)
Straight-line running Change of direction / reactive Speed
Endurance Depending on the sport.
Introduction to high level sport specific drills Upper Limb Injuries Equal range of motion either side Strength equal both sides (In a shortened and lengthened position) Explosive/quick repetitive strength movements

Upper Limb Injuries
Equal range of motion either side
Strength equal both sides (In a shortened and lengthened position)
Explosive/quick repetitive strength movements

Depending on the sport and level you are at in your rehabilitation. The inclusion into pre-planned sport specific drills or skills may be implemented earlier at the discretion of your practitioner. Although timeframes are helpful to gage an idea of when it should be safe or recommended to progress to the next stage of your rehabilitation. It is vital each component is ticked off prior to progressing no matter the timeframe.

A minimum period of 2 weeks unrestricted training is advised prior to return to play. This ensures the athlete has adequate exposure and is feeling comfortable and confident in themselves to return safely.

Another factor which must be considered is the athletes mental well-being. Often, this is overlooked, and the physical aspect is primarily focused on during the rehabilitation process. Implementing the injured athlete into the team environment on modified duties as soon as possible prevents the athlete from feeling disengaged or separated from their teammates.