Injury recovery... Have you been doing it all wrong?
Before we dive into this topic, I’d like to reiterate that we are not a physio or medical team. We do however, feel a responsibility to share the latest evidence based research that is relevant to all things health and fitness. Today we’d like to dive in to a recent article shared by the British Journal Of Sports Medicine (BJSM) titled “Soft-tissue injuries simply need PEACE and LOVE”. You can see a copy of the article here.
A topic that has been bubbling along for a little while that has gained a fair bit of traction of late is the way acute injuries are managed.
Traditionally, the protocol if you’ve rolled an ankle, pulled a hamstring or bruised a muscle is to apply the RICE Concept:
This was supposedly the best approach should an injury occur – it was said to be the most effective way to manage the symptoms of the injury to ensure recovery is achieved as quickly as possible.
Well, in the tradition of science, questions were asked about the actual effectiveness, a stack of research was done in the last decade to gain a better understanding of the way the body repairs itself post injury. Turns out, our initial thoughts regarding the RICE protocol isn’t exactly what it was made out to be.
Good news is, BJSM has issued a new protocol that is certainly worth considering.
PEACE & LOVE.
PEACE is the approach to take in the first 72hrs post injury. Correctly managing the injury in this phase will help fasten the recovery process.
The first thing that occurs when you injure yourself is pain – and this is actually a valuable thing. Pain is immediate information that something is wrong, the greater the pain generally the greater the scale of the injury. Ideally this leads to you feeling the need to protect the injury, but for the hero’s out there that think they can keep doing what they normally do whilst injured, sometimes taking a step back and protecting the injured site makes rehab process occur a lot faster and stops the injury from getting worse.
Elevating the injured site (although there is a lack of evidence behind it) is suggested to improve interstitial fluid flow out of the injured site.
Here is the controversial one! It is suggested that you avoid the use of both anti-inflammatory medications and ice. The various phases of inflammation play an important part of tissue recovery. This article will give you a deeper understanding of the topic. Essentially, reducing the inflammation may compromise long term tissue healing – not something you want to carry with you particularly if you’re hoping to be active.
Regarding ice, well again the evidence behind how effective it is at helping you recover is weak. A study suggests that it too may have a negative effect on the healing process, however, take these results with a pinch of salt as they were only tested on rats.
This helps limit intra articular oedema and tissue haemorrhage. Simply put, it promotes the injured site to begin the healing process faster, flushing out damaged tissue with increased blood flow.
More of a practitioner based end of the process, but it is important for everyone to understand what is occurring in the body when injured and how the body does what it needs to, to heal! If you understand the process, you’re far more likely to trust it.
LOVE describes the proposed approach post 72hr after an injury occurs. This is usually the biggest area of concern as it is where we see people compromise the rehabilitation process the most.
Refers to the exposure of “load” or weight you give an injured limb post injury. The suggested protocol is to expose the joint/limb to as much pain free load as possible.
Again, a specific one for the practitioners amongst us. Feeling optimistic towards the rehabilitation process and returning to normal is one of the easiest ways to speed up the rehab process.
Involves exposing the body to low intensity aerobic exercise to increase blood flow through the entire body, particularly the injured structure. Additionally, aerobic exercise is associated with increased mood and motivation.
Get back into it! Being injured does not mean you should stop exercising, majority of the time is only one or two joints affected, which means you still have the rest of the body to keep moving!
Obviously, there are a few drastic changes to the traditional process of injury management. By no means do we suggest taking this verbatim – but it is certainly food for thought.
What do we suggest?
Well, the best approach is taking one that works for you. If something makes you feel better and helps speed up the recovery process – do it!
What isn’t mentioned, and are crucial factors, are both sleep and nutrition. Poor sleep and a poor diet = poor recovery… no matter who you are.
Next time you suffer from an injury, have a think about how you want to approach the recovery and when in doubt…peace and love baby.