I am constantly hearing people talk about their injuries and how long they will be unable to perform certain movements according to their health care providers be it their doctor, physiotherapist, chiropractor, etc. You seem to accept these prognoses like there is nothing you can do about it and yet when you are presented with other options that might help them heal faster and return to whatever activity it is you are missing out on, you are resistant or worse yet, you don’t even bother to look for other options because whatever the doctor tells you has to be right, right?
Is it that you don’t believe faster healing is possible? Are you resistant to the idea that anything other than what your health care provider told you is true? Or do you just want a two week or six month break from whatever activity “caused” the injury?
I see people who injured themselves more than a month ago and are still not able to reach full range of motion or perform many activities they would like to be doing because they’ve been told to rest the injury and not move it too much so it can heal.
I’m going to call bullshit on this line of thinking. Movement is key to healing. With the exception of a broken bone, keeping a body part immobilized for extended periods of time only results in more restriction of the soft tissue, more atrophy of the surrounding muscles and decreased circulation to the area, none of which will help heal the injury. Immobility will only make it harder to heal more quickly.
Another factor that affects the speed of healing is finding and treating the restrictions in other areas of the body that helped to contribute to the injury. And there are ALWAYS other areas that contribute. Most people (therapists included) will treat the injured area directly and only after the acute phase is passed.
It is more beneficial to treat an injury in the acute phase with the proper modality. JFB-MFR encourages treatment of most acute injuries to help the body heal faster and more effectively. It can also be very effective for improving or resolving chronic injuries as well. The body is designed to heal itself if we let it. The problem is that we tend to try to do too much to help it by doing the wrong things (ie: heat, ice, immobilization, over-use or improper use of medication).
Another very important factor in the healing process is to understand and respect the pain signals your body provides. Contrary to popular belief, pain is NOT weakness leaving the body. Pain is an indicator that something is not right, whether it’s from over-use, direct trauma or forcing your body to do something it’s just not prepared to do.
Pain is your body’s way of trying to bring your attention to a problem. It can start off small but if you don’t respect what it’s trying to tell you and address it, it will get worse until a major injury happens that forces you to stop whatever it is you were doing. At that point, you tend to blame whatever movement “caused” the injury and then stop doing that movement for an extended period of time (sometimes never again if the injury is bad enough and doesn’t get to heal properly) until you can do the movement without much pain but with considerably less ease. However if you or your therapist had looked for and treated other areas of your body that are restricted and likely contributed to the injury, or if you had just dealt with the problem when it was small, then you would recover much faster and be less likely to reinjure that area again.
Pain is also helpful to the recovery process because it will tell you when you are doing too much. As I already mentioned, movement is key to recovery but it has to be pain-free movement. If you are forcing your body into a position that sends you a pain signal and you don’t back off, you are NOT helping yourself heal, you are just injuring yourself further and setting back your recovery time.
So if you want to maximize your recovery from an injury or better yet, help prevent the injury in the first place, find yourself a therapist trained in John F Barnes’ Myofascial Release and get back to what you want to be doing a whole lot faster.