Our newest addition, massage therapist Mark Lewis, explains how massage therapy fits into your rehabilitation from an injury.
You’re moving laterally to get to a hard shot by the sideline in your tennis match. You manage to return the ball with a deft stroke but suddenly you hear a loud ‘CRACK’ in your left ankle as you topple awkwardly over to the side. Immediate pain sets in, and you just know that the match is over. Frustrating.
What has happened to the soft tissues of your ankle? How will this damage amend itself over the coming weeks and months?
Your body is an amazing piece of machinery. Once a body part has been hurt through trauma, the body immediately takes action to heal itself. In this case, your sprained ankle will progress through 3 stages depending on the severity:
- Acute stage– occurs immediately after the sprain for up to 3-4 days, characterized by painful swelling, heat, and loss of function.
- Subacute stage (up to 3-6 weeks post injury) – after the acute stage the signs of inflammation start to decrease. New collagen tissue is supplied to strengthen the area, but if an abnormal amount of scar tissue is laid down, adhesions will form that decrease range of motion.
- Chronic stage (2-3 weeks post injury up to 1-2 years) – the inflammatory process is all done and full maturation of the tissue has been reached.
So where exactly does massage therapy fit into all of this?
In the acute stage of injury, the goal is to help the inflammatory process along. A couple of weeks ago, Rich talked about how cryotherapy (cold therapy) can be used in the early stages of injury. If you haven’t read it yet, click here.
In addition to cryotherapy, as your ankle heals from the sprain, your massage therapist can use techniques to optimize functionality and decrease the likelihood of a future injury. They can do this by breaking up adhesions that decrease range of motion and manipulating tissues to better align collagen fibres, which can free up joint movement. Furthermore, other areas of the body may compensate as you favor your ankle and your massage therapist can work on these areas to treat the resulting muscle tension and knots that develop. Optimizing body function means a quicker return to the court!
If you have a lingering injury that is frustrating you or making you tentative to return to the activities you love, come book a massage at Reactivate.