People often say to me ”I took a month off but when I returned to playing I got injured again”! This is frustrating for many people but it occurs partly because people make the mistake of confusing ”this no longer hurting” with their body being completely healed and back to ”normal”. There are a couple of things to consider that might help to make planning for recovery easier:
1) Injuries often are healed fairly quickly but the tissue that has replaced/repaired has not been subjected to normal stresses and may well be locally stiffer, more sensitive and generally weaker than it originally was.
2) Even when strength,sensitivity and mobility have returned to normal levels you will have lost the conditioning to the affected part of your body because you haven’t been able to train properly. Even if you healed completely you still haven’t recovered your skills/co-ordination. You can often get by without much training before returning to competition if you aren’t hurt too badly or you are only doing things at a low activity level. You do still run a higher risk of re-injury if you don’t do some prepatory training.
3) Ok, you now have a healed injury and your co-ordination appears to be back to normal and you are ready to go! Well almost. The last consideration is that with a substantial lay off you also have the chance that you have lost some of the capacity you have built up over the years from participating in whatever activity you do. This isn’t a big factor if the injury has been recent and you have gone through a conditioning program before returning to what you do. On the other hand, if you have had a long time off ( due to injury or just inactivity) your body has lost some of it’s built up ”toughness”. This means that you might find things get sore/injured again because you have less resilience. Part of avoiding this would be to get back on a regular graded training program before moving on to higher levels of participation or competition. Adults who have played a sport for years and then stopped , say to have children, and then returned a decade later find that they seem to initially get injured relatively easily to what they expected. This is partly due to the body naturally getting weaker/stiffer when not challenged to keep up optimum strength and flexibility.
To minimize problems each of these concerns need to be reviewed. If you need help to check things find a health care practitioner to help you go through and see that strength, range and co-ordination are back to normal and comparable from side to side. If you aren’t sure about your conditioning then either a health care practitioner or a personal trainer might help you check your fitness (strength and conditioning) levels.
So before rushing back onto the pitch, or even back to a hard labor intensive job, consider the things listed. With a bit of planning and training you have a good chance of recovery with minimal problems.