Rapid Injury Healing
Whether you’re an athlete, stay at home mom, or work at a job that can lead to overuse injuries, rapid healing is desirable as it minimizes pain and quickly restores function.
Rapid injury healing is an integrative approach that involves:
- Anti-inflammatory dietary and supplement interventions to minimize the negative effects of inflammation, while at the same time stimulating healing
- Targeted manual and hydrotherapy
- Specific corrective exercises
Understanding the healing process is the KEY to knowing what therapeutic interventions to apply and when to apply them.
There are 3 Stages of Injury Repair
The first stage of healing is inflammation. This is the body’s natural response to trauma. After an injury, the body attempts to achieve a state of homeostasis. Blood vessels constrict and seal themselves off as platelets create substances that form a clot and halt bleeding. Once homeostasis is achieved, blood vessels dilate, allowing nutrients, white blood cells, antibodies, enzymes and other beneficial substances into the affected area to promote wound healing and minimize the chance of infection. This phase is characterized by: Swelling, pain, heat and redness.
In the second stage, the wound is rebuilt with new, healthy granulation tissue, aided by nutrients and oxygen. This new tissue is made up of a mixture of extracellular matrix and collagen, which allows for the development of a new network of blood vessels to replace the damaged ones. In addition, the body transforms damaged cells into fibroblasts, which are essential for collagen and new connective tissue formation.
Maturation, or remodeling, is the last stage of the healing process. During this phase, the dermal tissues are overhauled to enhance their tensile strength.
The Cumulative Injury Cycle
The Cumulative Injury Cycle illustrates how the body responds to an injury and what happens if the injury does not heal properly.
As you can see from the diagram, targeting therapy early on (as described below), with reduce the chance that an injury becomes a cumulative cycle (Chronic)
Based on an understanding of the healing process and through clinical experience, I have found this to be the best sequence for Rapid Injury Healing:
- Anti-inflammatory dietary and supplement interventions
- Targeted Manual and Hydrotherapy
- Specific corrective exercises
Anti-inflammatory dietary and supplement interventions
- Anti-Inflammatory Diet- Ideally already part of one’s lifestyle
- Fish Oil
- Vitamin C
- Collagen Peptides (taken in a smoothie)
A Targeted Manual and HydroTherapy
- Dry needling and Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization/Myofascial Release to the injured area and opposite limb/body part- These therapies augment and speed up the body’s healing response
- Joint mobilisation (if indicated) to optimize mobility
- Alternating hot/cold to the injured area (3 minutes hot/1 minute cold; Alternate 3x. End cold. 3-4x/day. Hydrotherapy helps to remove inflammatory chemicals and injured tissues, while bringing in nutrients and oxygen (see above) essential for healing and repair
Specific corrective exercises
- Self-Myofascial Release (Foam Roller)
- Active stretching
- Isometric and Eccentric Strengthening
The conventional approach or RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation) may be counterproductive as it can delay or interrupt what the body is trying to accomplish. The potential negative effects of ice can be further compounded by adding NSAIDs, which block the healing process.
Jones, M. K., Wang, H., Peskar, B. M., Levin, E., Itani, R. M., Sarfeh, I. J., & Tarnawski, A. S. (1999). Inhibition of angiogenesis by nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs: insight into mechanisms and implications for cancer growth and ulcer healing. Nature medicine, 5(12), 1418-1423.
The MEAT approach (Mobilise, Exercise, Analgesics and Treatment- SEE ABOVE) is the way to Rapid Injury Healing.