Soft Tissue Injury Recovery: Understanding the Process
Soft tissue injuries are among the most common injuries, affecting millions of people every year. These types of injuries occur when muscles, tendons, or ligaments are damaged. Recovery from a soft tissue injury can be a slow and frustrating process, but with proper treatment and care, most people are able to fully recover. In this article, we’ll discuss the process of soft tissue injury recovery, including the types of injuries, the stages of healing, and the treatments available.
Types of Soft Tissue Injuries
Soft tissue injuries can occur in any part of the body, but some areas are more prone to injury than others. The most common types of soft tissue injuries include:
Sprains occur when ligaments, the bands of tissue that connect bones to each other, are stretched or torn. This often happens in the ankle, knee, or wrist.
Strains occur when muscles or tendons are stretched or torn. This often happens in the back, hamstring, or calf.
Contusions, or bruises, occur when blood vessels in the soft tissue are damaged. This can happen anywhere on the body.
Stages of Soft Tissue Healing
Soft tissue healing occurs in three stages: inflammation, repair, and remodeling.
In the first stage of healing, the body responds to the injury by sending blood to the area. This causes swelling, pain, and redness. The inflammation stage usually lasts for two to four days.
In the second stage of healing, the body begins to repair the damaged tissue. New tissue is formed, and the injured area becomes stronger. This stage can last for several weeks.
In the final stage of healing, the body remodels the new tissue to make it stronger and more flexible. This can take several months.
Treatments for Soft Tissue Injuries
Understanding pain and its impact on the body is crucial to recovery. When we’re in pain, it’s easy to get caught up in discomfort and lose sight of the bigger picture. But when we take a step back and approach pain with curiosity and openness, we can start to see it as a teacher – a messenger that’s trying to tell us something important.
One of the most important things I learned during my training was the importance of gait mechanics. How we move affects our entire body, and small imbalances can lead to big problems down the line. By understanding the mechanics of movement and how to identify and correct imbalances, we can prevent pain and injury before they even happen.
But what about when we’re already in pain? That’s where asana adaptation and recovery strategies come in. By modifying Yoga poses to accommodate our bodies’ needs and using recovery strategies like restorative Yoga and mindfulness, we can support our body’s natural healing processes and start to feel better.
Of course, pain and injury recovery requires more than a one-size-fits-all approach. It requires a deep understanding of the individual and their unique needs. But with the right tools and knowledge, we can all learn to approach pain with greater understanding, compassion, and resilience.
This is one of my specialties. As I sit here with an avulsion fracture in my foot, I’m brought back into the ways I’ve used Yoga Therapy and other holistic techniques to heal from the innumerous soft tissue injuries I’ve had. I think this is my 8th time on crutches…but that’s a story for another time.
Today I want to share with you the 5 Key Things I do to recover from soft tissue injuries.
Medical Massage, Yoga Therapy, lots and lots of work with Physical Therapists both in nursing homes and in personal practice have gifted me the ability and the confidence to understand the body’s innate resilience and movement towards homeostasis.
Here are a few tips for recovery:
1. Throw the old adage RICE out the window. for soft tissue injuries. What the body actually needs is PEACE and LOVE.
P – protect 1-3 days after injury. Avoid activity and movement.
E – elevate the injured limb above the heart as much as possible.
A – avoid anti-inflammatories and ice. They reduce tissue healing.
C – compress. Use an ace bandage to reduce swelling
E – educate. Your body knows best. Avoid unnecessary treatments and let nature play its role.
L – load. Let pain guide your gradual return to normal activities.
O – optimism. Condition your brain for optimal recovery by being confident and positive.
V – vascularization. Choose pain-free cardiovascular activities to increase blood flow to repair tissues.
E – exercise. Restore mobility, strength, and proprioception by adding an active approach to recovery.
2. CARs or controlled articulate rotations are your friend
Use gentle exploration of the range of motion of the joint affected. Try making the letters of the alphabet. Add a resistance band as pain allows.
3. Isometric contraction helps pain and recovery
Contract the muscles of your injured limb without changing the length of the muscle. Isometric contraction is an analgesic that helps relieve pain. It is also a great way to work with injury to prevent stagnation and fluid buildup.
4. Massage is the best
Use gentle strokes along the injured area moving from the extremities toward the heart. Apply warm sesame oil and make circles on the joints and long strokes on the limbs. This will help move stuck or stagnant energy, give you the opportunity to send love to your body and improve healing outcomes.
5. Keep moving
All the non-injured parts still want to move even when you’re in the protect phase. See what mobility exercises you can do, try chair Yoga, Tai Chi or Qi Gong. Keep the energy flowing throughout your body so you can feel good.
Want to know more?
Check out our Yoga Therapy for Pain and Injury Recovery and Prevention where we talk about all things Yoga. Receive the support you need as you journey into the resilient, whole, complete and perfect being you are and help others do the same.
Dubois B, Esculier J. Soft-tissue injuries simply need PEACE and LOVE. British Journal of Sports Medicine 2020;54:72-73.
Dubois B, Esculier JF. Soft-tissue injuries simply need PEACE and LOVE. Br J Sports Med. 2020 Jan;54(2):72-73. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2019-101253. Epub 2019 Aug 3. PMID: 31377722.