Most individuals are told, “Do not exercise with an acute injury,” and, “Give yourself time to heal before exercising.” But correct exercise is critical in treating acute or hyper-acute joint and muscle injuries. Selecting physiotherapy exercises to treat acute injuries can seem daunting, but really it is rather simple when you know where to focus.
The first thing to keep in mind about acute injury exercises is they need to meet the goals of reducing pain, reducing swelling, increasing range of motion and accelerating flexibility.
There are two straightforward guidelines to observe when exercising with an acute injury. First, is to always perform all movements within a pain-free zone. For example, if you can move the injured area 10 degrees with no discomfort and 15 degrees with pain, the movement should be no more than 10 degrees. This may assure that no more damage occurs to the local tissues or joints while performing the prescribed motions. Second, it is really important to perform sets of 35-100 reps for each motion.
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On the surface, this can sound utterly counter-intuitive. Many of us couldn’t imagine doing sets of 100 biceps curls on our best day, never mind if we had an elbow, arm, wrist or shoulder injury! In the case of the acute healing phase, the 35 repetitions are done in a pain-free fashion, which implies that the range of motion will be short. In fact, dependent on the joint and the tissue that is involved as well as the movement that is to be performed, the range of motion might be only 5-10 degrees. That is similar to not very much more than a minor muscular contraction. This process will permit a pumping action to take place to move metabolic waste out of the tissues while moving blood (which aids in healing) into the tissues. Also it will increase neurological action to the tissues, which is important in helping to increase flexibility of tissues and range of motion. With the selected exercises, the quantity of reps should be at least 35 and should be continued up to the point that a sense of fatigue sets in. At that point, the patient stops, rests and does another set of 35 reps till fatigue again starts to set in. Acute phase injury exercises ordinarily incorporate 5-10 sets daily, or even more.
Following these guidelines will help you achieve great results if you are suffering from acute or hyper-acute joint and muscle injuries. While no joint- or muscle-specific exercises were expounded upon here, the concepts taught can be applied to all the exercises you may already know.
Dr. Andy Thomas of Village Chiropractic in The Woodlands, TX addresses the importance of physiotherapy exercises, regarding their role of healing an acute injury, and how one should perform injury exercises.