There’s always those people that “oh i heal really fast . . yeh . . it’s in the genes ” . .
We may be super humans but we CANNOT outrace tissue healing times . . you cannot outrace your own physiology.
All tissues have a “threshold” above which they fail. It may not be the 488th rep . . or the 499th rep . . it may take the 511th rep . . but what we do know is eventually they fail.
Obviously what we want to do is bring that tissue tolerance to MAXIMUM level . . so we can take advantage of that tissue as long as we can.
After an injury, those muscular-skeletal tissues never, ever return to normal . . not mechanically . . not architecturally.
An injured tissue is an injured tissue and will ALWAYS remain an injured tissue . . it has different extensibility . . it may take a little longer to warm up . . it may be a bit tweaky . . it will fail first before any of the other tissues . . it will fatigue faster . . earlier . .
You may be healed, but that tissue is not the same tissue. It’s been to the beautician and had a makeover . . it’s been remodelled. Your body has now layed down scar tissue.
Your body is telling you “HEY YOU . . you trashed that one time motherfucker, I will NEVER let that happen to that tissue again.”
You’ll notice if you’ve pulled a hamstring . . or had a tear . . you’ll have a section of that muscle that’s critically short all the time . . it’s always going to talk to you a little bit . . whisper in your ear for that extra bit of TLC. Now that doesn’t mean it’s not 100% or it can’t do what it’s set out to do . . it’s just never the same.
Factors that slow down healing are:
- Age – A good blood supply is CRUCIAL for an injury to heal properly. As we age, our blood supply is often impaired.
- Stress (increased cortisol, leptin)
- Being immobile – Rest & Lack of mobility = DEATH . . it’s the worst thing you can possibly do for an injury.
- Diabetes (insulin sensitivity)
- Anti-Coagulants (high blood pressure stuff)
- Corticosteroids (steroid inhaler for asthma, predisposed for ALL bad tissue stuff)
- NSAIDS – Non steroidal anti inflammatory - ibuprofen – good data supporting people who take ibuprofen for a long time A LOT of the big athletic compounds in Europe has banned this anti-inflammatory from the table. Why? Because it stops the inflammatory process . . it impedes tissue healing. So how do you limit inflammation ? ICE.
Let’s move on to the tissue healing phases:
Phase 1 – Inflammation – 0-36 hours
Phase 2 – Proliferation – 2 days – 2 weeks
Phase 3 – Remodelling – 2 weeks – 6 weeks
When we talk about tendon ruptures . . . especially in tendons like the Achilles Tendon . . which is the THICKEST tendon in the body . . why do you think it ruptures?
Maybe because the load that was placed on it was ENORMOUS? No . . it’s used to carrying around your bodyweight & more . . so why? Because they’ve had an unhealthy tendon for a LONG time . . and they haven’t done shit about it . . it’s been shitty for weeks . . and you’re hoping it will go away . .
Our body has freakin’ AMAZING healing mechanisms . . but you HAVE to give it the chance to heal . . or else you’re digging your own grave here.
So phase 1 we’re thinking “OK . . my ankle is the size of a melon . . let’s slow the inflammation down”. . that’s the number 1 step.
Swellings is MAXIMAL . . the joint won’t move . . you can’t straighten your knee out . . it’s ballooned out . . this is the position where the joint has enough space to breathe and recover . . the “loose-packed” position of the joint. When you straighten out the leg it closes down the joint space, makes less room for swelling.
So what we want to do in Phase 1 is SLOW DOWN that inflammatory response . . we don’t want your body to freak out and do more than it’s supposed to . . best way to slow it down ? ICE.
We want to be icing it for 20 mins, every hour or two . . none of this bag of green beans type shit . . ice cup for 5 minutes . . if you’re using anything else . . 20 minutes . . why 5 minutes ? because you’re really isolating that area . . so grab a plastic cup . . put water in it . . rip a bit off the top . . freeze it . . and use that . . BEST method out there . . cheapest method out there.
That ice will stop pain messages from getting to your brain . . we’re shrinking those spaces . . swelling is going down.
After you ice you’re suddenly getting a highway of blood flowing in to the muscle . . creating good blood flow.
Phase 2, we’re saying “Hey, i feel AWESOME . . but it’s only 2 weeks out . . swelling is down but it’s best i start walking around on it . . “ You’re starting to lay down scar tissue . .
You don’t want to be pushing that healing process and start doing crazy acrobatics on its ass . . LAST thing you want is for inflammation to surface again . . and it becomes a cycle from phase 1 to 2 . . re-injuring the tissue then beginning to fix . . we want to fix the problem . . and get the fuck out.
Walking around with chronic swollen knees is not sexy .
Phase 3 – Is where you’re saying “Feeling good . . let’s try and move that joint a little bit . . “ The natural forces of gravity are now starting to reshape those tendons to maximally heal.
So main thing is . . we want to ICE and treat that injury as soon as you realize something ain’t right . . don’t be stubborn . . don’t be the reason for your own downfall.