Athletes and Overuse Injuries

Premier Health providers answer frequently asked questions about sports related overuse injuries.

What is the return to activity protocol for athletes recovering from overuse injuries?

Athletic trainer Justin Perkins discusses the protocol for when athletes can return to play after an overuse injury. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.

What is the return to activity protocol for athletes recovering from overuse injuries?

The return to play protocol for overuse injuries, we tend to, no matter if it's an upper extremity or a lower extremity, we tend to give them little bits at a time. If it's an upper extremity injury, we decrease activity til pain goes away, then we slowly increase activity day to day, as long as the symptoms don't reoccur. The first day or two, we might have them throw 15, 20 times, if it's a shoulder type thing. If no symptoms reoccur, then we might increase that slowly, day by day. Normally we try to get them in about a seven to ten day return to play, with something like that, and if they have no symptoms after that, we go ahead and clear them.

Similar with that, with lower leg, we tend to slowly increase their activity also. We decrease activity until pain goes away, then we'll slowly increase it. One day we might walk for 15, 20 minutes. The next day, we might bike, ride the elliptical, and then we eventually would like them to run again.

 

Whether an athlete’s overuse injury is with an upper extremity or a lower extremity, we tend to give them little bits at a time. If it's an upper extremity injury, we decrease activity until the pain goes away, then we slowly increase activity day to day, as long as the symptoms don't reoccur. The first day or two, we might have them throw 15, 20 times, if it's a shoulder injury. If no symptoms reoccur, then we might increase that slowly, day by day. Normally we try to get athletes back to their normal mobility in about seven to 10 days. If they have no symptoms after that, we go ahead and clear them to play.

With a lower leg injury, we tend to slowly increase their activity. We decrease activity until pain goes away, then we'll slowly increase it. One day we might walk for 15 or 20 minutes. The next day, we might bike, ride the elliptical, and then we eventually want them to run again.

Source: Jeffrey James, DO, Jon Sulentic, DO, Premier Orthopedics; Justin Perkins, Premier Health athletic trainer; American Medical Society for Sports Medicine; National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases