Low-intensity aerobic exercise can kick-start your recovery
Early initiation of low-intensity aerobic exercise is recommended for athletes who have suffered a concussion, a leading strength and conditioning coach and physiotherapist says.
Brooke Nairn, a strength and conditioning coach and physiotherapist based in Ireland, says current evidence suggests complete rest is no longer supported after a concussion.
“[In terms of current evidence], nothing exists to support complete rest post-concussion, but high levels of cognitive and physical activity may also delay recovery. So we want to find a balance between strict rest and high-level activity,” Nairn said during her Science for Sport presentation titled ‘Concussion Rehab.’
“Strict rest and ‘darkroom’ strategies are no longer recommended, as they are found to be outdated and ineffective. Complete rest increases risk of mental health challenges, social isolation, prolonged recovery, physical deconditioning, sleep irregularity.
“Research supports early [within one week] initiation of [low intensity] aerobic exercise. Rest during [the first] 24-48 hours, followed by early, light physical activity below symptoms threshold, such as a 10-15 minute walk, is recommended for improving recovery.”
While complete rest was not appropriate unless the symptoms were severe, Nairn said some activities should be minimised during the post-concussion period.
“Avoid reading, video games, TVs, phones and highly visual activities like shopping trips and spectating at sports events,” she said. “As tolerated, audio books, soft music, slow walks, short phone calls, sitting/eating outside [are all acceptable].”