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Unlocking Healing Power: Movement Triumphs Over Rest When Injured

Unlocking Healing Power: Movement Triumphs Over Rest When Injured

May 2, 2024
By Next Level Physical Therapy

“We must all either wear out or rust out, every one of us.  My choice is to wear out.”   - Theodore Roosevelt.  

Motion is lotion:  It's a common misconception that complete rest is the best course of action when recovering from an injury. While rest is important during the acute phase of an injury to allow for initial healing, prolonged immobilization can hinder your recovery process and lead to stiffness, weakness, and decreased range of motion. The best way to fight pain and recover from injury is to stay active and maintain your fitness level.  The key is performing movements that will help you heal faster and fortify your body.  Here's why movement is crucial during your recovery:

  • 1. Promotes Healing: Controlled movement helps stimulate blood flow, and deliver essential nutrients and oxygen necessary for healing. Gentle movement also helps prevent restrictive scar tissue formation and promotes the alignment of collagen fibers, leading to stronger and more flexible tissue.
  • 2. Maintains Joint Health: Regular movement helps to lubricate the joints and prevent stiffness, which can occur with prolonged immobilization. You can help maintain joint health and prevent secondary issues such as frozen or stiff joints by gently moving through a range of motion.
  • 3. Prevents Muscle Atrophy: Resting for extended periods can lead to muscle atrophy (muscle wasting), which prolongs your recovery time and increases the risk of re-injury. Incorporating targeted exercises and movement into your recovery plan helps to maintain muscle strength and integrity, supporting overall functional recovery.
  • 4. Improves Mental Well-being: Being immobile for extended periods can take a toll on your mental well-being, leading to feelings of frustration, isolation, and even depression. Engaging in movement, even in a limited capacity, can help boost your mood, increase energy levels, and promote a sense of accomplishment as you progress in your recovery journey.

Our team of experienced physical therapists works closely with our patients to develop a customized treatment plan, incorporating safe and appropriate movement strategies to support your healing process. We guide you through exercises and activities designed to promote mobility, strength, and function while minimizing the risk of further injury.  

If you are trying to heal on your own, here’s a general rule: if it causes your symptoms, hold off until you speak with a medical professional.  If it doesn’t hurt, it is most likely okay for you. 

Your goal: stretch and strengthen your muscles at least twice a week under the supervision of your physical therapist. 

How hard can I push?  Remember, movement doesn't have to be intense or painful to be beneficial. It is also important to know that soreness is a normal result of exercising. We will help you find the right balance of activity and rest to support your recovery goals effectively.

That being said, each person has a certain limit or threshold to which we can push our bodies. You need to meet your body where it is at.  One easy way of monitoring where you are is by using the Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) scale.  For example, 1 is relaxing on a Sunday reading a book and 10 is running as fast as you can, with your heart racing faster than ever before. When exercising on your own, it is wise to shoot for an RPE of 6-7/10 (as long as it does not cause your symptoms).  Under the supervision of your licensed physical therapist, it is safe to push beyond that barrier.  Want to take the guesswork out and supercharge your healing?  Talk to your physical therapist about what you can do to accelerate your recovery. If you are not under the care of a PT, click here to schedule an appointment with one of our highly skilled and knowledgeable Doctors of Physical Therapy.

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(661) 383-9828