How to Heal a Soft Tissue Injury Quickly
Posted on 31st March 2022 at 16:34
Over the years, there has been a lot of advice given to athletes and recreational sports people as to how to best improve their symptoms and increase their recovery rate to get them back to sport as quickly as possible.
As a Sports Therapist, I was taught back in 2013 that the best way to treat an injury immediately after occuring (and over the next 72hrs) was to P.R.I.C.E.. This acronym when spelt out meant protection, rest, ice, compression, and elevation.
After the immediate inflammatory stage had passed, the line of when was the best time to start exercising and how was always a little blurred.
Move with the times!
The original acronym given to aid our athletes’ recovery rate has come under some scrutiny more recently. The concept of applying ice onto an injury has been labelled outdated and quite contentious, with many studies now finding that the application of ice on an acute new injury can delay the healing process and therefore hinder recovery (Dubois and Esculier 2019).
The new guidelines given to help manage soft tissue injuries can be split into immediate management (P.E.A.C.E.) and aftercare (L.O.V.E.). This new guidance creates a contemporary framework for how to provide the best care and management at the time of injury, during the inflammatory healing phase (0-48/72hrs) and right through to long term recovery.
(Dubois and Esculier 2019)
How can P.E.A.C.E help me heal?
Protection – Restricting movement and unloading the affected limb for 1-3 days can be beneficial in minimising aggravation and reducing further bleeding and disruption of tissue fibres. That said, resting for a lengthy period has been shown to compromise tissue quality and strength so please get advice on this.
Elevate – This can promote the drainage of swelling from around the injury when the affected area is raised above the level of the heart (e.g., ankle raised when lying in bed).
Avoid anti-inflammatories – Inflammation is required within the body to heal soft tissues effectively. By reducing the ability for this to naturally occur by taking a large dose of anti-inflammatories or by using ice, the processes required for healing can be inhibited which can result in reduced long term tissue healing.
Compress – External pressure such as a bandage support or elasticated taping can aid in limiting the build up of tissue swelling and bleeding. This can help with improving symptoms, range of movement and quality of life.
Educate – During the first 1-3 days after injury, your body is best to be left alone to do its thing! Additional therapies such as electrotherapy, soft tissue massage, dry needling and others can be of great benefit to aid recovery, improve range of movement and muscle activation after this time. For the moment, let your body do what is does best and heal.
What’s L.O.V.E got to do with it?
By this stage, your injury should be starting to settle down from the initial onset and may possibly be looking a little worse for wear. This is where we step in! As a Sports Therapist, my main skill set comes in the form of helping to find the cause of your pain, manage the injury, treat you and get you to a place where you’re less likely to injure that limb again. This can be done through graduated loading (L) of the injury under certain parameters that can help improve mental wellbeing (O). By using rehabilitation to aid with blood flow (V), strength, mobility, and reducing pain via these graded exercises (E).
To learn more about how we can help you with a current injury and get you back to your sport as quickly as possible, click to BOOK your appointment with us today.
Dubois, J-F and Esculier, B. (2019) Soft-tissue injuries simply need PEACE and LOVE. (54) 72-73. British Medical Journal. https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/54/2/72
Share this post: