We all understand that sometimes injuries can happen. Most people have experienced pain or an injury at some point in their lives. Although injuries can happen to anyone, how we choose to manage them determines our outcomes. Injuries are often underestimated in severity, and people feel they can “give it time” and wait to see if it will get better. This may work for some injuries, but often people are searching the internet or coming into our clinics looking for more guidance on how to get better, quicker.
Injured tissues in our body can heal at different rates. Muscle strains can take anywhere from 4 days to 6 months to heal, depending on the severity of the strain. Tendon injuries can take anywhere from 3 weeks to over a year to fully recover.2 Given that there can be a wide range of times for tissue healing to occur, we must control the variables that we can to promote a healing environment in our body.
One job of your physical therapist is to make sure that you stay active while recovering from and protecting your injury. Here are just a few reasons this is so important:
Are you familiar with the term “runner’s high”? The phenomenon is a brief feeling of euphoria during or after a long run or intense exercise. Most people are familiar with the term but do not realize that the system responsible for this in your body can be trained through vigorous exercise. The descending inhibitory system is present in all of us and helps our bodies suppress the feeling of pain when we exercise. This system can be trained and activated with high-intensity exercise to help control our pain.3
Mechanotherapy is a technical term used to describe when we use load or resistance to stimulate tissue repair and remodeling. Think of a weightlifter lifting weights – we know that the resistance from the weights causes a change in the muscles that are working, and those muscles hypertrophy or get bigger. The same principle is being used by your therapist when they have you do resistance training on an injured area. Your therapist is mindful of your healing timeline and prescribes exercises that will control the load applied to your injured muscle, tendon, or ligament. That load then stimulates a healing response in the affected tissue.4
Injuries can take us away from or interfere with the things we love. Injuries can keep us from playing sports, working out with friends, affecting our jobs, or just playing with our children or grandchildren. Not participating in those activities can have a severe adversely effect on our mental health. Thankfully, exercise has been shown repeatedly in the research to impact peoples’ stress, anxiety, and depression positively.5
With all these benefits, there are many reasons we need to stay active while we are injured. Our bodies are capable of amazing things, and with the help of some exercise, our bodies can improve our perception of pain, help heal themselves, and improve our overall health and well-being. If you need help staying active during an injury, reach out to one of our talented physical therapists, and we can help get you moving in the right direction. Free Assessments are available in-clinic and virtually through our Telehealth platform.
The Athletico blog is an educational resource written by Athletico employees. Athletico bloggers are licensed professionals who abide by the code of ethics outlined by their respective professional associations. The content published in blog posts represents the opinion of the individual author based on their expertise and experience. The content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice and should not be relied on for making personal health decisions.
1. Vavken, P. (2018). “Evidence-based treatment of muscle injuries.” In Swiss Sports & Exercise Medicine (Vol. 67, pp. 16-21).
2. Kirkby Shaw, Kristin et al. “Fundamental principles of rehabilitation and musculoskeletal tissue healing.” Veterinary surgery : VS vol. 49,1 (2020): 22-32. doi:10.1111/vsu.13270
3. Hargrove, Todd. “Exercise Induced Analgesia.” Better Movement, Better Movement, 26 Feb. 2020, https://toddhargrove.substack.com/p/exercise-induced-analgesia.
4. Khan, K M, and A Scott. “Mechanotherapy: How Physical Therapists’ Prescription of Exercise Promotes Tissue Repair.” British Journal of Sports Medicine, vol. 43, no. 4, 2009, pp. 247–252., https://doi.org/10.1136/bjsm.2008.054239.
5. Mikkelsen, Kathleen et al. “Exercise and mental health.” Maturitas vol. 106 (2017): 48-56. doi:10.1016/j.maturitas.2017.09.003