If you follow sports at all, you know who Lebron James is. He is likely one of the most athletic and skilled sports figures of all time and has been for over 15 years. One of the major factors in his long career is that even with among the highest amounts of minutes played in the NBA, he gets injured very rarely. In fact, in 15 years the longest he had been out due to injury (until recently) was two weeks due to a sore back.
Recently he experienced what has been called a strained groin muscle. This is a common injury for many of us, but especially sports participants who have to do high velocity movement like basketball, hockey and football. He’s been out of playing or even practicing for 4 weeks and it has just been reported that he will be out likely at least another two. Suggested recovery time for an injury of this nature is 6-8 weeks so this is right on track.
My point is that this individual has access to the best rehabilitative care in the world. He has trainers, physios, any therapeutic thing he wants all day every day. He has access to literally the best of the best. Yet still he takes a long time to heal from an injury.
Rushing back from hurting yourself is something I see a lot in my practice. Typically someone hurts themselves and then does about half of what they need to in order to return to their activity and then gets really surprised when the injury either recurs (and is usually much worse) or they hurt something else that is linked to the original injury.
The typical timeline requires rest, therapy and then slow easing back into movement and activity. It depends on the severity of the injury obviously, but if one of the most athletic people on the planet still needs 6 weeks to recover from a strain with access to the best therapy in the world, a regular participant has no business returning to activity having done basic physiotherapy and resting for a couple of weeks.
Here are some typical timelines for injuries I see often in my practice (according to the Mayo clinic):
Sprained hamstring: Grade 1 is 3-4 weeks, Grade 2 is 6-8 weeks.
Herniated Disc in the back: 6 weeks.
Rotator cuff surgery: 4 to 6 months.
ACL surgery in the knee: 6 to 9 months.
Concussion: Anywhere from 2-9 months depending on the severity.
This is also taking into consideration that you are doing all of the things you need to do in order to heal the injury. Now, I get to help these people after they have completed physiotherapy which usually makes my part of the job much easier – if they have done what they needed to do in physio.
The best way you can help yourself to make sure this doesn’t happen again is:
- Find a competent therapist (not a cookie cutter hook you up to the machine and walk away therapist).
- Do your exercises daily (they exist for a reason – you can also do your own homework easily for modifications or progressions).
- Figure out your new limitations (often after surgery scar tissue will not allow the same range of motion or strength through a range of motion).
- Find out why it happened in the first place (was it a fluke accident like a fall, or an overuse injury).
- Strengthen the supporting muscles around the joint as much as possible (this needs to be done with proper progressions and regressions)
- Re-establish range and proper movement before re-entering the activity (ie don’t rush back – the whole point of this article).
The injury recovery process can be frustrating to active people but unfortunately, the one thing I can tell you after dealing with hundreds of them over the years is: if you try to rush, you’ll make it worse. After all, if elite athletes need to take the time, so do you. If you take the time now to make things fully better, you’ll be able to enjoy your activity longer and hopefully never have the injury get worse or recur.
If you need any more details or are interested in exploring further, feel free to reach out to me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m happy to help!