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  • Huw Darnell

Help! I'm still not back from Injury!

Frustrated your Injury Rehabilitation is taking longer than expected?


One of the most common causes for dissatisfaction in the return to sport rehab process is unmet expectations. If you think after an injury or surgery you will be back to 100% in 6 months time, yet at 9 months you are still having trouble training consistently, you’re in pain and your day to day life is impacted, I understand your frustration.


Sometimes you can be doing everything that is asked of you to rehab your injury, you’re showing up to physio, you’re completing your strength and conditioning program, you’re listening to the surgeon, but you’re still not where you want to be.


I have helped guide many athletes through the return to sport process. When they have hit road blocks in the rehab process it has required us to think laterally and look outside of the obvious factors impacting recovery, which are a comprehensive assessment to identify functional roadblocks, applying the correct rehab program, managing load - volume, frequency and intensity and working in conjunction with other allied health professionals.

I have found a number of limiting elements that can impact the rehab process:

  1. Doing too much

  2. Not eating enough protein

  3. Poor nutrition quality

  4. Excessive levels of stress

  5. Insufficient recovery


  1. More is better, right? Wrong, better is better. Athletes are very motivated to return to their sport and are guilty of going overboard with clinicians recommendations, e.g. if once a day is good, obviously 3 times is better. Striking the goldilocks balance of just enough is key to success.

  2. Protein at 1.6-1.8g/kg of Body Weight. Struggling to put on mass or rebuild an athletic muscle can really hamper your rehab results. Often times people over estimate how much protein, the building blocks for muscle, tendons and bone, they are consuming. When they are trying to repair, rebuild and regenerate this can negatively impact the outcome.

  3. Excessive inflammation during injury can really hamper results. Inflammation is a necessary part of the injury process, however we don’t want to add excessive amounts to the process by consuming pro-inflammatory foods. Instead we should be focusing on good quality foods and nutrients that are anti-inflammatory in nature.

  4. Stress is essential for adaptation, this is called Eustress, excessive chronic levels of stress, or distress, can be harmful for you rehab progress. I have found practicing mindfulness, meditation and breathing exercises a massive game changer for managing stress levels.

  5. Sleep is the greatest performance enhancing drug you’re not taking! They say it’s not about how much you can do, but how much you can recover from that will determine your results. Sleep is the number one recovery tool we have at our disposal and is the habit that will the biggest impact on performance. I like to gamify recovery for athletes where they have to earn points through recovery strategies (sleep, massage, nutrition, self-care, time with friends/family, time in nature, etc) to spend on their training.

Picture credit: Precision Nutrition - Nutrition for Injury Recovery


These factors highlight the fact that rehab is a dynamic complex process that requires the whole athlete be taken into consideration and not just the injured body part. We are rehabbing humans not body parts!

Comment below with your biggest takeaways from this article or if you have found this article helpful please share with someone going through injury.

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