The Soft Tissue Healing and Inflammation Process
A simple explanation of what happens when we injure ourselves as described by John Ellis, Tui Na Instructor
Stage One, Acute Inflammation-Red, warm, swollen, pain, loss of range of motion and strength
What’s Happening: Injury area is being “sealed off”, cleaned up and set up for repair. This stage usually lasts 2-3 days but can last longer
What to do: R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compression, elevation), gentle bodywork and passive range of motion within pain tolerance
Why: This helps speed the metabolism of the inflammation and helps enhance the healing process
Stage Two, Repair-Less signs of classic inflammation, still weak and limited range of motion
What’s Happening: Injured tissue is being “filled in” with new collagen fibers that will make up the scar tissue. This process lasts about 4-6 weeks.
What to do: More direct and deeper bodywork. Intensity depends on the patient and severity of injury and differs from case to case but typically moderate levels of bodywork are sufficient. Beginning local bodywork too early can further injure and cause more swelling thus delaying healing time. The practitioner always begins gently.
Why: If done properly the healing time can be shortened by increasing the metabolism of the injured area, prevent adhesions and increase range of motion.
Stage Three, Remodeling-Overlaps repair stage at about 3 weeks post injury and can last up to a year or longer
What’s Happening: The scar tissue tensile strength increases
What to do: At about 4 weeks the main changes in treatment are the intensity of local bodywork and joint stretching when appropriate
Why: Movement, pressure and loading (like compressions) the injured area will help to increase circulation, break up scar tissue/adhesions and encourage proper joint movement.
When you receive a treatment during the time of an injury, be aware that deep and aggressive work is not what is best for your body. While you may believe that if you aren’t feeling the work deeply then it is not working, the opposite is actually the case. Just as in life, most often when we take our time and approach situations gently and with patience….it’s better. –Erik Everts, Founder, The Blue Buddha