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All You Need To Know About Post-Concussion Workouts


All You Need To Know About Post-Concussion Workouts

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All You Need To Know About Post-Concussion Workouts

If you’ve recently experienced a concussion, you may be curious about when you can resume your usual exercise routine. After a concussion, your doctor will advise you to take it easy for at least 2 weeks, and it might take up to 6 weeks before you can engage in contact sports again.

It’s safer and medically recommended to approach physical activity in a gradual manner. This involves starting with light exercise and then slowly increasing the intensity over time.

Here’s a guide to post-concussion workouts:

Why Exercising After a Concussion Is Vital

In the past, the standard treatment for concussions involved a phase known as “cocooning,” which required patients to completely rest from all mental and physical activities until symptoms vanished.

While cocooning is crucial for allowing the brain to rest and recover, it can also lead to feelings of isolation, depression, and anxiety. These negative effects can prolong concussion symptoms, causing them to persist for months or even years in some cases.

Recent studies from 2018 indicate that spending more than 2 days in a cocooning state can result in worse outcomes. On the contrary, engaging in mild physical activity within the first week post-concussion can accelerate the recovery process and reduce the likelihood of experiencing post-concussion syndrome.

What Exercises Can I Safely Do After a Concussion?

Initially, avoid activities that could put you at risk of getting another concussion or cause any jolting movements to your head or body. This means refraining from activities like jumping, running, and contact sports.

If your goal is to get back to contact sports, it’s important to progress through each exercise stage patiently, attentively, and cautiously. It’s vital to ensure you are fully prepared before returning to competitive sports. Do not advance to the next step if your symptoms persist or worsen.

Start off slowly. Even if you can only manage 5 minutes of exercise, it’s a good start. With consistent effort, you’ll be able to gradually build up your activity level and decrease your symptoms.

Based on the Concussion Guidelines provided by Parachute and supported by medical research, follow these steps:

  • Step 1 – Limiting Symptoms Activity: After 24-48 hours post-concussion, engage in light physical and mental activities such as simple chores and academic work.
  • Step 2 – Light Aerobic Activity: Start with light exercises like walking or stationary cycling. Avoid resistance training, even with light weights or resistance bands.
  • Step 3 – Non-Contact Sports Activity: Begin activities like running, skating, and throwing for up to 20 minutes. Avoid body contact, high-speed stops, and resistance training.
  • Step 4 – Non-Contact Training Drills: Practice training drills such as passing exercises, but refrain from engaging in contact sports until the next step. Gradually introduce resistance training.
  • Step 5 – Contact Training Drills: With approval from your doctor, start participating in drills for contact sports. You can now incorporate a resistance training routine.
  • Step 6 – Return to Sports/Exercise: Once you can exercise without experiencing any symptoms, you may resume participating in contact sports, training drills, and resistance training.

Each step should be carried out with at least a 24-hour gap in between. If you are symptom-free, it may be possible to return to your regular exercise routine in slightly over a week. In case symptoms reappear post-medical clearance, consult your doctor for a reevaluation.

Why Did My Doctor Advocate for an Extended Rest Period?

It’s not uncommon for general practitioners to overlook new research findings. Therefore, if your doctor suggests an extended rest period despite the absence of symptoms, seek a second opinion. However, there might be factors that your doctor is aware of that you are not. If so, consider requesting further evaluations.
Post-concussion syndrome is a serious condition that can result in reduced tolerance for physical activity, vision impairments, and inner ear issues that could persist for a long time. It’s worth consulting a specialist well-versed in concussion management to ensure a speedy recovery.

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