It’s not a one-off event
Like success, and anything else worthwhile, Healing takes time. Many people think of our bodies’ ability to heal, for example back pain or knee pain, or an injury like a pulled hamstring muscle, as a one-off event. Others imagine that this recovery happens in a similar time frame to the healing of a broken bone, about 6 weeks. Healing issues and injuries like these, usually involve soft tissues, like muscles and tendons, which will begin healing in that time, but rarely complete healing and recovery that quickly. In this blog, I will be discussing how healing happens and why healing takes time.
Many of our clients initially arrive at our clinic, in a great deal of pain and discomfort. As you can imagine, our first focus is to improve comfort and mobility. Then we focus on supporting and strengthening the body. This allows the changes to consolidate and build on each other. Enabling this new posture or way of being to hold for longer and longer periods of time. Ultimately this leads to improved health, strength, resilience, energy, and vitality. Unfortunately, this doesn’t all happen in one visit, it takes time. Often it will take a number of visits, as well as time for their body to assimilate these changes.
During our body’s healing and recovery, from an issue or injury, there are three clinical stages: Inflammation, Proliferative and Remodeling.
Inflammation is the first stage, and often our first sign that something is wrong and our body needs help. Actually, it is part of the healing process itself, our body’s early response to the injured tissues. The swelling and redness of inflammation happen because of the influx of supplies and reinforcements, particularly red and white blood cells, that the body brings specifically to the affected area. This launches the beginning of the process of healing and repairing the tissues. This can last up to 4 days.
The Proliferation stage begins about 3 days into the process, overlapping with the end of the Inflammation stage. In this stage, the tissues, for example, the muscles or tendons, are being rebuilt. As this happens, the tissues can contract, feeling tight, restricted and often painful.
Remodelling is the last stage and can last 6 months to a year, after injury. This is the stage of re-educating our body, helping it to regain its original strength and conditioning. It involves our body adapting to these re-educational changes and finally assimilating them. When done well, it can even enhance and improve the state of our body, from where we initially began, because of what we learn and change in that process of re-education. For instance, in the process, we can learn better habits of lifting, of exercising, of movement, and of posture. When we do, we can find that after we have “recovered” from our injury, our body is actually stronger, more proficient, more resilient, and we have even more energy than we had before the issue or injury.
Are healing bumps normal?
Healing rarely happens smoothly or in a nice straight line. Healing is not linear. Healing is a process. One that naturally goes up and down. The old saying of “two steps forwards and one step backward” can sometimes be how it feels. Sometimes things can feel worse before they start to feel better. Sometimes it can feel like you’re going backwards, when in reality, it is just your body working with and assimilating the changes that it is being led and encouraged and hopefully supported in, in taking. Unfortunately, this can be a common response during healing and even to treatment. So yes, there can be bumps in healing. It’s normal for the process to be a bumpy one. If this is how your body is responding, it can feel tight, uncomfortable, or even painful. We’re sorry to hear you’re suffering. If this does sound like what is happening for you, heat will usually be your friend. Whether in the form of a warm shower, an Epsom Salt bath, foot bath, or heat pack, to soothe and relax your muscles. If you have any questions or concerns about this, please call your practitioner and they can help you understand what might be happening specifically in your body, what your particular journey to healing and recovery might look like, and what can best help you.
Healing is like a spiral
I have often heard clients and practitioner friends, describing that to them, healing looks like or feels like “a series of hills or mountains to climb”. Especially when they get frustrated that it’s not progressing in the straight line that they expected. My favourite image or shape to describe the healing process is a spiral. Looping around, coming back to a similar place, for instance when we feel the pain, discomfort, or tightness again. But in fact, the process has actually moved forward. It has improved and gone to the next level, loosening muscles or releasing tension in places. But the body has gone as far as it can at this moment and hit the next point of resistance. That is the pain, discomfort, or tightness that we feel. With some more help, from you or your therapist, you can also move through this, to your next level of healing and recovery, and reach an even higher level of strength, resilience, and energy.
Healing is the new high
Through this up and down journey of healing and recovery, we have often found clients get so focused on how they feel in the moment, they forget the more intense, more constant pain, discomfort, or tightness they suffered at the beginning. This is a normal and natural part of the healing and recovery process. But it does remind me, as a practitioner, to help my clients to reflect back on just how far they have come and to celebrate their wins at each step, no matter how small they sometimes seem. Feeling more positive about the healing process can empower, enhance and even increase the speed of healing because we are then supporting rather than resisting it. This can make the journey of healing feel like a fabulous high.
Wishing You Happy Healing and Recovery!
What would you do if you could clear your pain enough and improve your movement enough?
Where are you at in your journey to healing and recovery? How have you found your journey so far?
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