Returning to Sports After an Elbow Injury

post-elbow injury recovery
By Fara Rosenzweig

Accidents, poor training programs, overtraining or improper form can easily lead to an elbow injury. The nagging pain of the elbow can frustrating, leaving you sidelined from your sport.

Just "resting" your injured elbow can leave you more hurt than the initial injury. The goal is to get you back to your performance level quickly and safely. Engaging in a recovery program that uses strengthening movement to regain range of motion without discomfort can help get you back to your sport.

Step One: Protection

The first step to returning to your sport is to speak with a professional on the diagnosis. Once diagnosed, ice, heat and elevate the injury. Sometimes a sling is used to keep movement at a minimum to help reduce pain and inflammation.

Simple exercises will be prescribed for you to work on, which will help strengthen the elbow. This will prevent scar tissue and speed up the recovery.

Step Two: Work on Range of Motion

Once your physician has cleared you, you're able to begin range of motion movement and therapy that will help reduce swelling and pain.

Using a therapy band to perform exercises will help strengthen the elbow and surrounding joints and muscles.

  • Elbow flexion
  • Elbow extension
  • Shoulder lifts
  • Rows

Step Three: Electrical Muscle Stimulation (EMS)

Speak with your doctor about electrical muscle stimulation (EMS). EMS can help speed up the recovery process. Electrical stimulation activates the muscles when you're at rest, sending tiny electrical pulses to your nerve fibers in order to create involuntary muscle contractions (getting your muscles to work without the heavy load from weight lifting).

Step Four: Strength and Functional Training

As with any sport-related injury, start slow and gradually increase weights and speed. Once you're about 90 to 95 percent recovered, start mimicking your sport's movement. This will help you gain strength and improve your endurance to help you get back to performing your best.

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