How To Get Active After An Injury In 3 Easy Phases

Have you ever been faced with an injury and wondered when you could get back to being active? It’s a common question that many people have during the healing and Physiotherapy Edmonton stage. After most of the symptoms have resolved, it’s understandable to be concerned about returning to activities that caused the injury in the first place. On one hand, you’re eager to engage in your beloved pastime, but on the other hand, there’s the fear of delaying your recovery by returning too soon. Competitive individuals may also worry about the potential loss of conditioning or strength by not continuing to train. So, how can you safely and effectively get active after an injury? Let’s explore three easy phases that can guide you through the process.

Phase 1: The First Phase of Healing Injuries typically go through three distinct phases on their path to recovery. The first phase is the acute phase, which occurs within 24 to 72 hours after the injury and is characterized by pain and inflammation. During this phase, the R.I.C.E. principle can provide relief:

  • Rest: Give your body the rest it needs to heal and avoid further aggravating the injury.
  • Ice: Apply ice to reduce inflammation and alleviate pain.
  • Compression: Use compression techniques, such as bandages or wraps, to support the injured area and minimize swelling.
  • Elevation: Elevate the injured limb or body part to help reduce swelling and promote circulation.

At this stage, your physical therapist will focus on easing discomfort and preventing further injury. They may use techniques such as T.E.N.s, ultrasound, acupuncture, or manual therapy to reduce pain. Additionally, gentle exercises may be prescribed to maintain mobility and joint range of motion.

Phase 2: The Second Phase of Healing Once the symptoms of pain and inflammation start to subside, the injury enters the subacute stage, which can last up to six weeks. During this phase, your body focuses on repairing damaged tissues. The goal of physiotherapy is to encourage the healing process. Treatments during this phase may still involve the R.I.C.E. principle and other techniques such as taping, bracing, or joint mobilization. Physical therapy sessions will likely focus more on exercise and correcting faulty movement patterns to restore full function.

Phase 3: The Final Phase of Healing The remodeling phase is the last stage of the healing process and typically lasts from about six weeks to three months. At this point, many therapists will encourage their patients to tentatively return to their usual sports or hobbies. By this stage, you should experience minimal pain, no inflammation, and nearly full range of motion. Your strength will also be close to normal.

However, it’s important to remember that you may feel slightly weaker after taking a few weeks away from your typical fitness routine. You shouldn’t expect to jump right back in at your previous intensity. Your therapist can provide specific guidelines, but it’s generally recommended to return at about 50% of your regular training volume. For example, if you used to run 10km a few times a week, consider starting with half that distance. If gardening is your activity of choice, and you usually spend 30 minutes each evening doing yard work, start with 15 minutes and gradually increase from there.

After You’ve Healed While engaging in activities, it’s crucial to monitor your symptoms closely. It’s easy to get mentally absorbed in a sport or hobby you love and inadvertently cause a flare-up. It’s normal to experience a slight increase in soreness after reintroducing old activities, but it’s essential to differentiate between this and the symptoms of a possible relapse. Your physiotherapist can assist you in gradually returning to action and teach you how to recognize signs that you may be pushing yourself too hard.

Another important aspect to consider is working with your physiotherapist to create an injury prevention plan. This plan may include specific stretches or strengthening exercises to avoid future recurrences. Your therapist may also suggest engaging in a complementary sport or hobby to condition your body differently, reducing the risk of further injuries.

Taking a step in the right direction 

If you’re eager to get back to an active lifestyle after an injury, it’s important to follow these three phases of healing. Remember to prioritize rest and recovery during the acute phase, focus on encouraging the healing process in the subacute stage, and gradually reintroduce activities during the remodeling phase. Monitor your symptoms closely and work closely with your physiotherapist to ensure a safe and effective return to your beloved pastimes.

If you have any further questions or need assistance with your injury recovery, don’t hesitate to reach out to In Step Physical Therapy.