We have all been hurt at some point in our lives. Now most of the population is not tearing their ACL trying to shake defenders but there are still some out there. If not, then injuries still happen to everyone.
Whether it is broken bones when we are younger, ligament injuries in the middle years, or degenerative injuries when we are older is irrelevant.
All injuries work in the same general way. There seems to be some misconceptions when it comes to injury, however.
The first phase of injury is the inflammation phase. This is when the injury starts or when symptoms become serious. Both acute and overuse injuries start with the first phase.
During this phase, typically, swelling occurs and pain sets in. The best strategy to get out of this phase is usually the RICE method. This is rest, ice, compression, and elevation.
The purpose of this phase is to prevent any more damage the inflicted area. The inflammation phase is probably done once swelling goes down, pain reduces, and function starts to restore.
The second phase is the repair phase. Most of the tissue healing from an acute injury occurs during this stage. Those with overuse injuries jump right into this phase since there was not a single event that caused them to get hurt in the first place.
The professionals responsible for the second phase are physical therapists. Their job is to restore function and movement to the injured areas through basic exercise. They can also attempt to decrease pain in chronic injuries that can be extremely painful.
This phase is especially important because it is the body’s opportunity to recover and heal properly. If this step was skipped, the joint structures of the affected areas would be compromised. Luckily, most people do not skip this phase and are back to normal function when done working with the physical therapist.
The most important step may be phase three, which is the remodeling phase. The goal of this phase is to build strength in the injured area. This is where strength coaches and personal trainers come into play. Exercise intensity can increase during this phase.
Phase three takes people that have recovered from their injury and starts to improve their movement. Grooving good movement patterns should be the number 1 priority. Rebuilding strength in the injured joint needs a good base of movement function. Placing strength on top of dysfunction is starting the route to re-injury.
The biggest threat to this phase of recovery is that most people skip it. There is a notion that once physical therapy is done then the person is all better. Unfortunately, physical therapy usually does not last long enough to create permanent changes. Nothing does, except making lifestyle changes.
Physical therapy is essential for getting someone back to normal function, but the person must then continue to strengthen, mobilize, and stabilize the joints. This is why most nagging injuries never go away. This is also why some people wear braces, etc. for extended periods of time.
Without continuing the recovery process, the injury truly never heals. Anyone that tells you about old football injuries, etc. skipped at least phase three. All steps in the process are essential and phase three may not ever have a definite end.
To truly come back from an injury strength and proper movement needs to be built in the body. Skipping steps almost assures that dysfunctional movement will occur and long term pain can exist.
Don’t consider recovery a done deal when physical therapy is over. Remember to find the right professional for the job before it is too late to right the ship.