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The Different Stages of Injury Recovery and What to Expect During Each Phase

Injuries are an inevitable part of an athlete's journey, but understanding the different stages of injury recovery can help you navigate the process more effectively. From the initial injury to returning to full activity, each phase has its own unique challenges and milestones.


Phase 1 – Acute Phase

The first stage of injury recovery is the acute phase, which begins immediately after the injury occurs. During this stage, the body's priority is to control inflammation, reduce pain, and protect the injured area. Rest is commonly recommended to manage symptoms and facilitate healing at this stage. Depending on the severity of the injury, this phase can typically last from a few days to several weeks.


Phase 2 – Subacute Phase

Next is the subacute phase, which is characterised by decreased inflammation and increased tissue repair. Physical therapy, gentle stretching, and mobility exercises may be introduced to promote healing and prevent stiffness. While pain and swelling may still be present, they gradually lessen as the injured tissue begins to heal. This phase can last anywhere from a few weeks to several months, depending on the extent of the injury.


Phase 3 – Rehabilitation Phase

The final stage of injury recovery is the rehabilitation phase, where the focus shifts to restoring strength, flexibility, and function. Physical therapists and trainers work closely with athletes to design personalised rehabilitation programs tailored to their specific needs and goals. As strength and mobility improve, athletes will gradually progress to more challenging exercises and activities. The duration of the rehabilitation phase varies widely depending on the severity of the injury and the athlete’s response to treatment.


Throughout the recovery process, patience is key. While it’s much easier said than done, rushing back into training when your body isn’t ready for it will never end well. Do your best to follow your treatment plan. While setbacks and frustrations may occur along the way, staying committed to the rehab process and seeking support from healthcare professionals can help athletes overcome obstacles and achieve a full recovery.


Recovery services such as cryotherapy, floats, contrast therapy and compression can help within the subacute and rehabilitation phases. Discuss these treatment options with your physical therapist before booking a session.


Please note: we are not physical therapists. If you are seeking assistance for an injury, please reach out to a physical therapist in your area.

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