Injury rehab, Its a game of Snakes and Ladders.

Updated: Oct 23, 2019



How much did you hate playing this game and landing on square 90 just to end up back at 25. It was all fun and games when you hit 17 and bounced on up to 74 destined for a fast finish and greatness.


Well after a deflating game of snakes and ladders against the kids i realised that its alot like rehab for some people. Especially when it come to longer term injuries or complex issues. So i thought i'd try and summarise my thoughts on dealing with the rehab snakes and getting more ladders !


What are the SNAKES in rehabilitation or injury recovery ?


We find that the most common snakes that get in the way of rehab are unexpected setbacks and unrealistic expectations.


Setbacks should really be explained early in the scene as "expected setbacks " and they can be very demotivating.

In the majority of people there will be times where you have;

  • Flare up in symptoms.

  • Come up against a stubborn joint that won't move as far as you want.

  • Have a plateau in progress.

  • Struggle to fit your "homework" in to life and all its demands.


These are normal scenarios and the first rule is;

Quite often it can be a simple case of reviewing what has caused the problem or what you are doing and then getting you back on the right path. Here are some of the solutions


  • For pain flare ups it may be as simple as a "tune up" with your physio or adjusting the exercises to suit your situation. It's an expected part of your recovery that painful tissues will get upset as you progress, very rarely is it indicating that you are damaging yourself. I like to think of these flare ups as the pain protesting that its being evicted, just like an unwanted party guest !


  • In cases where we find you are plateauing it may indicate that its time to up the ante and progress your rehab .The body has probably adapted and is cruising along! This is a good point to reassess and establish what needs to happen next to keep moving forwards.


  • Taking shortcuts, there is no better way to dissapointment than trying to rush and take shortcuts. The biggest mistake we see is when someone thinks that when the pain gone then there is nothing wrong. Typically pain is the last symptom to arrive and the first symptom to go. It's at this point where you can put in a good prevention program and really build a stronger and more resiliant you.

Great Expectations and injury rehabilitation.


More often than not we try to get back to our ideal activity way to quickly without putting the required work. Its human nature and im as guilty of this as anyone.


It's good to chat with your physio about time frames around how long it takes tissues to heal and also how long it takes them to repair and get stronger.


In most cases we can give good time frames based on the science of tissue healing, known factors in adapting to exercise and also on our experience in rehabilitating your type of injury.


It can be a bit trickier in more complex and persistent cases but after 2-4 sessions we should have a clearer picture as to where you are heading.

This has alot to do with the individual nature of pain and how it responds to different types of tretament and activity. Once we work that out we can progress from there with better results.


How do i land on more ladders and avoid the snakes?


Much like Homer Simpson it involves having a plan !


Here is our top tips to whack those snakes;


Goal setting and injury rehabilitation.


Its good to have a goal. Rehab from an injury is no different in trying to climb Everest , win nationals or run a marathon. if we have a goal then its easier for us to plan and structure your rehab to achieve this goal.

Together we can then break the goal into smaller steps and set out the path, this brings me onto the next tip


Make a plan.


"To fail to plan is to plan to fail"


If we have a goal in mind then we can break this into manageable steps. You will know what you need to do to reach each step and how to do it.The end result is you achieving your goal with hopefully minimal treading on "snakes".


Stick to the plan.


It's a well known fact that adherence to any form of treatment plan will reap the best results. These are 4 essential rules to making the plan stick;

  • Make it fun.

  • Make it challenging.

  • Make the goal achieveble.

  • Be consistent.

We are finding that clients who join us for rehab sessions now have far better outcomes than when they tried to go it alone. The reason sfor this are;

  • Learn good technique.

  • Form good habits,

  • They work hard.

  • and have fun.


These all help maximise your adherence to the plan and increase the chance of success.


Consistency is king.


If you want to be successful you have to be consistent, never a truer word has been spoken in my view.


This can be a simple as setting aside 10 mins a day to get some basic exercises done, making sure you get a 10 -15 min walk done every day.


Classes are brilliant to develop a consistent pattern as you know where you have to be and when. It also is a big factor in adhering to the plan.


Exercise is key.


In the majority of issues we see at Arana Hills physiotherapy exercise forms a large component of your recovery.


Pain is usually the primary reason that people come to see us. Often the underlying issue to why this pain has developed is the inability for the structure or tissue to tolerate load or force we need to get it stronger and fitter.


Even in tissues that are more sensitive or painful, exercise can be a great pain reliever. In fact it can be a very potent form of pain relief.


We can load the body with;

  • simple bodyweight exercises such as pilates type work.

  • High level bodyweight exercises using the suspension trainers

  • Reformers

  • Theraband

  • Weights , kettlebells

The list is endless, but its got to be specific to you and its got to be fun.


Get some wins on the board.


Whether you have a long term or short term rehab program its important that we get onto some wins early. Little wins or big wins it doesn't matter, the more we can get on the board the more motivated you become. This gets you closer you to your overall goal.

It's also good to celebrate the wins as you go.


In summary.

Sometimes we will land on the big ladder other days a short ladder, there will be days you'll tread on a snake but the end goal is all that's important. The key is to keep focused on the process, adjust your program as required to account for "snakes" and be consistent.


If you want to know more about our physio rehab sessions give us a call, we cater for all abilities, injuries and goals.


Heres to your success


Need help with your rehab and making a plan feel free to contact us or book in to see one of us here.


Cheers Dave.


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