Here at the clinic we often get people contacting us asking when should I start physio after injury or when in pain. They often say:
- ‘’My pain is achy, sharp or dull’’
- ‘’I can’t pinpoint it!’’
- ‘’It started ages ago when I was…..’’
- ‘’My pain is constant or it comes and goes with certain movements’’’
- ‘’My pain gets aggravated when I do this and that’’
- ‘’When will it settle? and do I need Physio?’’
Many people have been told by family and friends that the best way to manage their injury is to just rest it and it will get better over time. However, in reality what we see is that when people take this approach more often than not resting and waiting for the injury to resolve will result in you being away from what you love to do for longer. Whether your injury is an Acute Ankle Sprain or a 3 year history of Chronic Low Back Pain, it is important to take action in your recovery.
- Understand your Injury – Education
- Find the Cause – Full Assessment
- Graded Movement Exposure
- Build Resilience and Awareness
In recent times, research has led us to move away from over-protecting ourselves after injury. Of course an initial period of rest (usually 72 hours) is required in most cases to let inflammation settle down. Research has identified the benefits of loading an injury early (allowing for pain) and the quicker recovery times experienced as a result.
So when is the Best Time to Start Physio following Injury?
5-7 days…..If your pain is not settling within a week it may limit your ability to work or exercise and you won’t perform to the best of your ability.
Whether you are a competitive or recreational runner or just want to be able to play with the kids in the garden, don’t sit back and wait for your injury to heal itself. Give yourself the best chance of avoiding the injury or pain reoccurring by seeing a professional that can help. There is no one size fits all approach as pain and injury are highly individual experiences.
A middle aged mother with a chronic back problem may require a treatment plan built around her lifestyle and what she is aiming to get back doing pain free such as lifting the kids or walking. Whereas the athlete with an acute ankle sprain who will require very specific treatment to get back to training as quickly as possible.
However it is important to Take Action to manage your Injury and Pain
Step 1: Education – Know your Pain!
The most important aspect to overcoming pain and injury is to understand how pain works.Pain does not always mean harm or physical damage.
The brain is always updating the system to check if you are OK – so think of pain as a warning signal. When the brain perceives something to be threatening it will heighten that pain signal to protect ourselves. With that in mind, if we can learn how pain works we can reduce its threat and do something about it. For example, that person with the ‘bad back’ will link their pain to a past experience of how they injured their back. The brain remembers this experience to avoid that movement again. However, to reduce the threat and gain back good movement we need to change the experience.
We help to desensitise the painful area with physiotherapy techniques and some light exercises to make the area feel safe to move again.
Step 2: Find the Cause
The next step is to assess what is causing the pain. This is where we can really help by assessing the changes that have happened over time that has lead the body to overprotect itself with these pain signals. In the clinic we go through a full movement assessment while addressing any dysfunctions, your injury history and any lifestyle factors that may contribute.
We will look for any bio mechanical limitations that may contributing to your pain such as poor hip and ankle mobility and control. These limitations may limit your ability to use your muscles and joints effectively.
Step 3 : Graded Movements
The body likes movement and when it gets the correct stimulus it changes our perception of pain. Here is where we start to address any movement dysfunctions to start moving correctly again. Whether your goal is to get back walking or playing sports, it’s important that exposure to the required movements is graded and progressive. Depending on what your activity/sport requires its vital that you train for the demands of the task. This may be:
- Speed (Acceleration/Deceleration)
Step 4: Build Strength & Resilience
The next step to managing pain and injury is to become more aware of your own body. If you are walking with a limp or leaning towards one side, then find out what positions give you problems so they can be addressed. This is essential to take control of your pain before it becomes a problem again. Building resilience through specific prevention exercises will get you moving again with more control of your body than before.