Physiotherapy – Rehabilitation and ‘Return to Play’

At Galway Physiotherapy & Wellness Centre a large portion of our client base are involved in the rehabilitation process be it post-surgery and post injury for example shoulder issues and a large amount and wide variety of lower limb issues. A large portion of this cohort is then in the ‘return to play’ area, which in our book refers to return to sport, exercise, movement, work or anything you want or aim to do from our goal setting. This process can generally be divided in to four phases, although we believe it is a very fluid process ever changing depending on the client, their process and reactions, goals, mood and progress to name a few.

Let’s start with Phase One (imagine that!)

At this time our aim at Galway Physiotherapy & Wellness Centre is to reduce pain, ‘swelling’ and increase the range of motion available. This is where, as mentioned in previous blogs, we find a level the person and body are comfortable with and trying to avoid complete rest. Here we are forming a baseline or foundation while also displaying to the body, mind and nervous system everything is ok and we can begin the process even if we are recovering or healing! This may include TheraBand (!), isometrics and low load, high volume foundation exercises. Positive reinforcement is they key at this time.

Phase Two

The next few phases are the ones we truly love and are blessed at Galway Physiotherapy & Wellness Centre, unlike a lot of physiotherapy practices, to have a large open, fully functional gym as well as a large grass outdoor area. In Stage Two, we like to move on slowly but surely using periodisation principles to Gradually Expose the body on from Stage One. This is where it is beneficial to have experience and know how on S&C principles to leave the TheraBand behind and get to the machines and dumbbells if that is the suitable path! This is the progressive overload area we spoke about in previous blogs. For example, we could begin to slowly decrease volume while increasing the resistance e.g., from 4 sets of 6-8 repetitions to 6 sets of 3-5 repetitions.

Phase Three

For a large majority of our client base, especially but not limited to our lower limb population phase three is where we aim to build some power. Here we drop the weight or resistance and move faster and that can be with dumbbells, barbells, machines, body weight and again…Theraband*! Basically here we aim to build power from the foundations of the previous phases. An essential element here to ensure efficiency throughout is large rest periods.

*Anyone who attends our clinic knows we don’t associate the often negative connotations in large health circles of ‘Theraband, here ya go 3×8’ laziness, we use them from an enjoyable, positive reinforcement, banded resistance perspective.

In a later blog we will delve further in to Phase 4 – Return to ‘Play’