Tuesday 5 September 2017

Rest and Wait?

This will be a familiar scenario. You or someone you know experiences an injury, whether it be acute or chronic, having onset gradually over a length of time. Because of the pain, you consign yourself to resting from all activity until the pain recedes. But will it?

The problem with prolonged rest for an injury, as I wrote a bit about before, is that it causes the body to adjust to inactivity. Sure, the tissue may heal, but it without being exposed to any of the types of stimuli that you wish to return to, the chances of it being able to perform those activities are decreased.

To put it into different terms, we know that the body specifically adapts to the demands we place upon it. If that demand is immobilization, then that's what the body adapts to during the entire healing process. If rest is all that you do in order to recover, you have a much higher chance at reinjury as soon as you try to return to activity since the tissue has become unconditioned for it.

What's more, if you do nothing but refrain from any exercise or activity, then it also increases your innate fear of that injury and the pain it causes. Fear-avoidance habits can be quite quick to develop and can cascade into a problematic cycle of further pain and dysfunction.

All in all, absolute rest is not the answer to pain. Graduated exercise is key to help the tissue to reattain its full function and capacity as well as helps to prevent the fear of pain from inhibiting movement and delaying recovery. The sooner you can commence an active recovery/rehab program, the better. Exercise is the best medicine.

That and laughter.

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