Before Getting Back to It: Precautions to Consider When Returning to Play

By Dr. Jeffrey A. Orr | Friday, January 3, 2020

With the weather getting colder and the snow falling, it’s time to break out the winter gear, get outside and start enjoying some frozen nature. However, if you have recently suffered an injury and are looking to get back to outdoor activities this winter, here are a few precautions you may benefit from before charging into the backcountry or joining the kids in the terrain park.

Number one, give yourself enough time to recover from an injury. One of the most common reasons people have a setback in their recovery is simply not giving their body sufficient time to fully heal before resuming sports play. Recovery time varies and depends on the body part involved along with the severity of the injury. Some injuries only take a week of conservative management, while other injuries may require surgery and several months of formal rehabilitation.

Number two, it is important to make this an active recovery process. Early mobilization and functional rehabilitation are important principles in physical therapy. Some fractures and injuries do require a period of immobilization, though this is kept to a minimum. Getting to work on improving range of motion and strengthening the muscles will help improve function in an injured limb.

Number three, keep a positive attitude. It is common to experience frustration, anxiety and even depression after an injury. Typically, these feelings are most severe in the immediate aftermath and tend to improve as progress is made toward returning to sport participation. However, if left unaddressed, these feelings can slow rehabilitation and delay return to activity.

Number four, get medical expertise. Regularly seeing a health provider can be beneficial to give you the specifics of your injury and provide you with a timeline for healing. Working with a physical therapist can also help you maximize your recovery efforts. Lastly, do not ignore the rest of your body! Focused rehabilitation on a specific body part should not take away from overall health and conditioning. In particular, emphasis on core strength and flexibility will go a long way in helping you return to your pre-injury activity level.

The road to recovery is typically not a straight path, and coming back from an injury can be a frustrating and time-consuming process. Minor setbacks are common when you test yourself and increase your activity level. Hopefully, you only have to recover from your injury once. When you take the appropriate steps and return to exercising safely, you minimize your risk of re-injury and can maximize your time on the slopes.


Dr. Jeffrey A. Orr is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist with Barton
Health. He sees patients in South Lake Tahoe, Incline Village and Carson City. For more information
or to make an appointment, visit or call (530) 543-5554.