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Physical Therapy for Athletes


The physical aspect of most sports and their repetitive biomechanics occasionally leave athletes with a variety of injuries, even if they are being careful.  Not only do injuries occur during competition, but during training and conditioning as well.  Sports injuries, like all injuries, are usually preventable.  Causes are usually a result of:
  • Poor training methods
  • Inadequate warmups
  • Lack of mobility in muscles and joints
  • Fatigue
  • Overuse of muscles
  • Dehydration
Each sport is unique and has its own risks.  Athletes are prone to receiving two general types of injuries: acute and chronic. Acute injuries tend to happen suddenly during exercise.  Chronic injuries are most commonly a result of the athlete overusing a certain area of the body.


Acute Injuries
Acute injuries are most common in physically competitive sports where sudden movements or impacts can cause the body to move in ways it isn’t used to.  Most of the time, acute injuries are quick and happen in an instant.  According to the NIAMS (National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases), signs of acute injuries include:
  • Sudden, severe pain
  • Swelling
  • Not being able to place weight on your leg, knee, foot or ankle
  • Abnormal movement of joints
  • Extreme weakness in legs or arms
  • A bone or joint that is visibly out of place


Chronic Injuries
Chronic injuries are more likely to happen when the athlete performs a single repetitive movement like pitching a baseball or swinging a tennis racket.  It is common for athletes to develop these injuries due to the nature of sports which involve a single body part receiving a lot of the same motion. According to the NIAMS, signs of chronic injuries include:
  • Pain when playing the sport
  • Pain when exercising
  • Dull aching when body is at rest
  • Swelling


Treatment of Injuries
Fortunately, sports injuries can be effectively treated with physical therapy.  Physical therapy helps an athlete rebuild their strength and movement in the body after injury.  It conditions your body not only to recover, but also to prevent future injuries.  The movement involved in the exercise program helps speed up healing.  Simple range-of-motion exercises help strengthen that area with minimal pain.
Your physical therapist will consider your medical history, athleticism and previous injuries to create the best plan for your recovery.  You will be given a set of exercises using specialized equipment that will help with your recovery.  Your progress is evaluated daily and adjusted based on how you’re feeling, whether that be better or worse.
Acute injuries can be treated using the R.I.C.E. technique which stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation.  Practicing this can help reduce inflammation and let the injury heal.  Range-of-motion exercises and light weight lifting are common with these injuries as you’re trying to regain the strength and mobility you had before your injury.
Chronic injuries take more effort and involve more care before pre-injury activity can be performed again.  Although both treatments involve exercises that strengthen your injured body part, chronic treatments will be taken much more slowly and have a lengthier recovery time.


Preventing Injuries
Physical Therapy may do a great job at helping athletes manage pain to avoid permanent injuries but it also helps prevent future injuries.  If you feel like you may be developing a chronic injury or want to avoid an acute injury, seeing a physical therapist can help you strengthen your body and correct any improper movements.
It is important to remember that preventing an injury is much better than recovering from one.  Make sure to stretch and warm-up before every workout, learn proper form for common movements in your respective sport, and know your body’s limits.  Good luck out there!



“What Are Sports Injuries?” National Institutes of Health. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Nov. 2014. Web. 8 Jan. 2017. <>.


Moriarty Physical Therapy is a premier PT center in the Hudson Valley. To find out more about physical therapy or to book your first appointment with a PT, contact Moriarty Physical Therapy at (845) 454-4137 or visit their website


Schedule a FREE 15-minute Exploration Visit

Come visit one of our physical therapy clinics in New York or North Carolina and one of our Doctors of Physical Therapy will do a 15-minute consultation to see if physical therapy is right for you. In the consultation, we’ll help determine the source of pain and movement restrictions to see if you would benefit from physical therapy or might need the assistance of another healthcare professional. If so, we’ll make a referral and help speed up achieving your health goal.

You have nothing to lose; the screening is free! And if physical therapy could help you, we can perform the examination right then–even without a prescription–with Direct Access (covered by insurance).

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