Integration of strength and conditioning principles into a rehabilitation program

Int J Sports Phys Ther. 2011 Sep;6(3):241-53.


Background and purpose: Rehabilitation and strength and conditioning are often seen as two separate entities in athletic injury recovery. Traditionally an athlete progresses from the rehabilitation environment under the care of a physical therapist and/or athletic trainer to the strength and conditioning coach for specific return to sport training. These two facets of return to sport are often considered to have separate goals. Initial goals of each are often different due to the timing of their implementation encompassing different stages of post-injury recovery. The initial focus of post injury rehabilitation includes alleviation of dysfunction, enhancement of tissue healing, and provision of a systematic progression of range-of-motion and strength. During the return to function phases, specific return to play goals are paramount. Understanding of specific principles and program parameters is necessary when designing and implementing an athlete's rehabilitation program. Communication and collaboration amongst all individuals caring for the athlete is a must. The purpose of this review is to outline the current evidence supporting utilization of training principles in athletic rehabilitation, as well as provide suggested implementation of such principles throughout different phases of a proposed rehabilitation program.

Evidence acquisition: THE FOLLOWING ELECTRONIC DATABASES WERE USED TO IDENTIFY RESEARCH RELEVANT TO THIS CLINICAL COMMENTARY: MEDLINE (from 1950-June 2011) and CINAHL (1982-June 2011), for all relevant journal articles written in English. Additional references were accrued by independent searching of references from relevant articles.

Results: Currently evidence is lacking in the integration of strength and conditioning principles into the rehabilitation program for the injured athlete. Numerous methods are suggested for possible utilization by the clinician in practice to improve strength, power, speed, endurance, and metabolic capacity.

Conclusion: Despite abundance of information on the implementation of training principles in the strength and conditioning field, investigation regarding the use of these principles in a properly designed rehabilitation program is lacking.

Keywords: periodization; program design; rehabilitation; strength; training.