Until recently we all believed that complete rest after an injury was ideal. Our protective mindset agrees to the argument that pressure on a weak or broken part would cause it to delay its healing or even deform it. Research has disproved that logic. We have much to learn and appreciate about our amazing bodies.
Apparently, after the acute pain and swelling has passed, usually within a few days you can begin light movements. Muscles heal much faster and become stronger with early mobilization. Personally, I underwent three c-sections and I was moving within 24 hours of the anesthesia leaving me. After discharge which was in three days, I was at home doing housework. Of course, my case was due to the fact that I had no help and with no time to indulge in the negative consequences my body healed remarkably fast and well. I have no pains and aches that normally women who undergo c-sections complain about.
The power of suggestions on the mind and body it seems isn’t just something I have personally observed but wildly documented. There was a time when sportspeople agreed that humankind would never cross the four-minute mile. In 1954 Roger Bannister broke that record and ran a mile in 3 minutes 59.9 seconds. What is even more surprising is that after he broke that record within 46 days john Landy, an Australian runner, did it in 3 minutes 58 seconds. Today the record stands at 3:43.13, by Hicham El Guerrouj of Morocco.
Humankind it seems is bound more by mental constructs that physical limitations. Hypnotherapists have argued that what we tell ourselves is far more effective than reality if there is such a thing. Reality is based on perception and perception is based on your beliefs which in turn is a product of your thinking. Richard Bach had told us that, ‘You are always free to change your mind and choose a different future, or a different past.’
Feeding an injured part with fear that it is broken and subjecting it to complete rest beyond what is needed can cause the muscles to atrophy. If the injured part is kept immobile, it will heal in a shortened position will be more fibrotic and weaker. While RICE is needed during the acute phase of recovery, Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation you need to follow it up with MICE, Movement, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.
Of course, common sense is needed and pain is your best indicator as everybody is unique. Functional rehabilitation, active rehabilitation all work on the principle that once the muscle or injured part is fairly healed it needs mobility and during the later stage load-bearing (gently) to get it to heal as strong if not stronger than before. Icing after every activity is recommended as ice reduces swelling. There is a lot of buzz around ice baths/showers and how it aids in boosting immunity and even your metabolic rate. The Japanese tend to prefer hot baths and say it works best for nagging pains and healing old scar tissues. The rule of thumb is ice for acute wounds and fresh injuries reserving hot baths for old aches and nagging pains.
A lot of cultures promote massage therapy and while science has yet to disprove its efficacy, the fact remains that the skin has the highest number of nerve endings making it the most sensitive organ of the body. Given that we are social beings who respond to touch it is quite possible that massage does indeed help, if not in healing then at least in the feel-good department that is vital for healing.
The best advice for injury is prevention is better than cure. While injury is a byproduct of exercise and cannot be completely eliminated you can reduce its frequency and intensity. You can do this by strengthening your core, building more muscle, and concentrating on keeping good form while exercising.
How soon can you workout after an injury? As soon as your injury is relatively healed you must start light movements and when it is nearly healed you must start loading pressure (gently) so that it heals into a stronger version of itself reducing the recurrence of that injury. Of course, it goes without saying that you must listen to your body, pain is the best guidance system and you must consult a professional physiotherapist before you do anything. Always consult your physician, physiotherapist, and/or trainer before you indulge in any high strenuous exercise.