Weird blog title...I know.

I wanted to write this one on how one side of your body that is recovering from an injury either has tight muscles or has weak muscles. If you have this, it could increase your risk of injury on the "non-affected" side. I was reminded of this when I read this article on NASCAR driver Denny Hamlin suffering a torn left ACL while playing pickup basketball, only 5 weeks from a right knee arthroscopy in December. He will delay having surgery until after the 2010 NASCAR season.

DISCLAIMER: I am not privy to any details concerning Mr. Hamlin's injury or physical condition. I am merely guessing based on my experience, and what I write below may not apply to his specific situation.

If I had to guess, it seems logical to follow this train of thought: right knee still recovering, feeling better but maybe not 100% in strength, or maybe not trusting it fully, which may have put extra stress on the left knee, and then when he planted, his left ACL gave way.

Again, this may not have been the case with Mr. Hamlin. But I have seen countless athletes who have tried to come back too soon, without fully trusting the recovering of the involved knee/leg/ankle/arm, etc., and they wind up hurting the other one. Why is that?

1. Muscles not strong enough: you may have done exercises to strengthen it, but not true functional strengthening exercises.

2. Poor neuromuscular control: not enough training the way the muscles and nerves work together, leading to a lack of trust, which doesn't allow the limb to be used normally.

There are many other reasons, but I think this sums it up.

For an athlete, any recovery from injury has to involve a rehabilitation program that incorporates the transition from simple exercises to true return-to-play exercises: exercises designed to mimic the athlete's demands of his/her sport. We at Arkansas Sports Performance Center and Athletic Republic incorporate that into training programs called "Bridge Therapy" programs, which involve a combination of rehab and training. This way, athletes can return to play at even a higher level than before injury.

I encourage anyone dealing with an injury to MAKE SURE you are ready to fully return to play and that you can TRUST the injured part again without thinking about it. If not, you may be setting yourself up for future injury!