“My (fill in the blank) isn’t better yet.” I hear this often when working with my athletes and frequently see similar statements when on social media.
There are a number of factors that play into how quickly someone improves/recovers when injuries occur. These factors include tissue healing time, how long the injury has been present before deciding to do something about it, how long you have been getting it treated, and how much you are still pushing through the injury.
Tissue healing time
All tissues – bones, ligaments, muscle, tendons, etc. – in the body have standard healing times. If you have suffered a ligament sprain, tendon or muscle tear, fracture, or some other traumatic injury, regardless of what you do for it, the tissues require a certain amount of time to heal. If you don’t give them the time they need to heal, you will continue to reinjure the area.
Yes, there are some methods that can speed up the process depending on the injury, but unless you are a professional athlete, obtaining these services can be difficult and costly.
Time since onset
For most injuries athletes deal with, there is no traumatic incident, but rather pain just shows up one day and then sticks around. If you are like most humans, you just deal with it for a period of time. To a point, I totally get this method because there are times pain shows up for no apparent reason and goes away on its own in a several days.
The problem is most times this does not happen. Instead, the pain sticks around for a long time. Rather than seeing someone to get the issue addressed, you just continue dealing with it, modifying movements and activities to avoid the pain as much as possible, but never getting it taken care of.
The longer someone puts up with an issue, the more likely other issues are going to develop. Our bodies are great at compensating, so over time rather than getting one issue taken care of you now have a number of issues to address. The more issues, the longer it will take to resolve the pain.
Time in therapy/treatment
As much as we would like to be, physical therapists, chiropractors, massage therapists, etc. are not miracle workers. Most times, we cannot make pain disappear overnight. If an injury has been present for a very short time, it may be possible, but when dealing with pain that has been present for months, resolving the pain in one session is not likely.
In general, the longer the pain has been present, the longer it will take to clear up. It can take several weeks to calm down an area that has been flared up for weeks, months, or years. Then, after it is calmed down and moving better, it normally takes several more weeks to retrain the body in how to move properly again. Without that second stage, the pain will likely return again.
What are you doing when it comes to training, especially once you start therapy? Are you continuing to push through the pain during your training? Or are you modifying in order to avoid the pain and allow the issues to calm down?
If you continue to push through the pain with your training, the pain is not going to go away. If it does clear up, it will take significantly longer because of the increased stress and strain you continue to put on it.
Ultimately, the sooner you get the pain addressed and the sooner you modify your training rather than continuing to push through the pain, the quicker the pain will go away and you will be back to training at 100%.
Does this resonate with you? Have questions regarding the pain you have been putting up with? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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