It’s not a one-off event
Like success or anything else worthwhile, healing takes time. Many people think of the ability of our bodies to heal, for example back or knee pain, or an injury like a pulled hamstring muscle, as a one-off event. Others imagine this recovery takes place in a similar time frame to healing a broken bone (about 6 weeks). In reality, healing issues and injuries, such as these, usually involving soft tissues, like muscles and tendons, will begin to heal within this timeframe. However, they will rarely complete the healing and recovery process that quickly. In this blog, I will discuss how healing works 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. Enabling this new posture or way of being to hold for longer and longer periods. 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 many visits, as well as time for their body to assimilate these changes.
During your 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’s part of the healing process itself. Our body’s early response to the injured tissues. Inflammation creates swelling and redness, due to the influx of supplies and reinforcements (particularly red and white blood cells), which the body directs specifically to the affected area. This launches the beginning of the process of healing and repairing the tissues, and 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 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. This is due to what we learn and change in that process of re-education. For instance, in the process, we can learn better habits of lifting, exercising, movement, and posture. So, if you improve your habits, you may find that after you’ve “recovered” from your injury, your body is actually stronger, more proficient and more resilient. You may even have more energy than before the issue or injury.
Are healing bumps normal?
Healing rarely happens smoothly nor in an exact straight line, it’s 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, your body is working with and assimilating the changes it’s being led and encouraged to take. 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 responds, it can feel tight, uncomfortable, or even painful. We’re sorry to hear you’re suffering. If this sounds like what is happening for you, heat will usually be your friend. Consider 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, please call your practitioner, and they can help you understand what might be happening specifically in your body. We help you understand what your journey to healing and recovery might look like, we want you to feel better ASAP.
Healing is like a spiral
I have often heard clients and practitioner friends describe that healing is like “a series of hills or mountains to climb”. Especially when they get frustrated, it’s not progressing in the straight line 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 pain, discomfort, or tightness recur. 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. Reaching 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 observe that our clients are so focused on how they feel in the here and now, that they forget the more intense, 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 reminds me, as a practitioner, to help my clients reflect back on how far they have come. 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. Focusing positively on each milestone can make the journey of healing feel like a fabulous high.
Imagine for a moment what you would do if you could clear your pain sufficiently and improve your movement?
During this strange and crazy time, YOU are still our highest priority!
We can still treat you in person with Osteopathic and Massage services at our Turramurra clinic during COVID-19 lockdown.
So come in, feel nurtured as we provide you with the treatment and tools so you can feel brilliant again.
Where are you at in your journey to healing and recovery?
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