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There are a lot of good memories, and because I was injured, during the rehab, I met my wife. The tennis was very good but the injuries were good for something too.

Richard Krajicek


Sports rehabilitation begins as soon as possible after the initial treatment of an acute injury. As discussed in Chapter 13, treatment techniques are frequently used in acute to subacute presentations, and focused on pain relief before the rehabilitation phase begins. Rehabilitation focuses on return to sports participation, and aims to return the sportsperson to their pre-injury level of performance. Once the athlete has successfully returned to sport, rehabilitation can adopt a preventive approach.


Exercise programs often form a large component of an athlete’s rehabilitation. Exercise programs typically aim to address the following components:


  • muscle activation and motor control

  • muscle strength, power, endurance

  • flexibility (joints and muscles)

  • proprioception

  • cardiovascular fitness

  • functional exercises

  • sports-specific skills

  • correction of biomechanical abnormalities.


These components are discussed in this chapter. Figure 15.1) displays an example model of the integration of individual components into a progressive rehabilitation program. This chapter also describes the keys to a successful rehabilitation program, the components of exercise programs for rehabilitation, as well as discussing stages and progression of rehabilitation, monitoring of rehabilitation programs, and the psychological aspects involved with rehabilitation.

Figure 15.1

Integration of individual components into a progressive rehabilitation program

Graphic Jump Location

Keys to a successful rehabilitation program


Sports medicine is readily classified as a science; however, devising a successful rehabilitation program should be considered an art. Skilful rehabilitation cannot be replaced by a recipe approach, as each individual brings his or her own personality and lifestyle factors to the therapy room. Some sportspeople have considerable career or job commitments, whereas others are full-time professionals. Some have good support from their family and peers, whereas others do not. Furthermore, each individual has different post-injury sporting goals, levels of skill, and degrees of competitiveness, all of which influence the rehabilitation program.


Once the diagnosis has been made (Chapters 11 and 12) and initial treatment instituted (Chapter 13), the therapist performs a comprehensive baseline assessment from which to measure progress. An appropriate, individualized rehabilitation plan can then be formulated. Keys to a successful rehabilitation program involves giving adequate explanation, providing precise prescription, making the most of available facilities and equipment, and beginning as soon as possible.




The rehabilitation plan should be explained to the sportsperson with realistic, approximate time frames. It should be emphasized that the time frames are only approximate and not “promises.” It is important to set both short-term goals (e.g. the removal of a brace or the commencement of jogging) and long-term goals (e.g. such as return ...

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