Despite popular belief, rest isn't the quickest route to recovery.
New research out of Copenhagen shows immediately beginning rehabilitation after an injury may allow patients to recover faster and return to their daily activities much sooner than we once thought.
A study Dr. Meredith Warner recently stumbled upon in the New England Journal of Medicine took fifty athletes and separated them into two, randomly assigned control groups. Each athlete suffered an acute injury of the thigh or calf muscle and was then randomly assigned to begin an early (two-day post injury) or delayed (9 days post-injury) rehabilitation program. These patients didn’t receive any analgesic medications or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs throughout the study.
The researchers followed these athletes for 12 months during their recovery.
They all went through the same rehabilitation program, monitored closely by a physical therapist. During the first week of training they performed daily static stretching, and during the next phase, they practiced daily isometric exercise. In the final weeks, the athletes performed functional exercise combined with heavy strength training three times a week.
Following the rehabilitation period, results showed athletes who began rehabilitation two days after injury returned to activity about 20 days sooner than those who delayed therapy for nine days.
For even the average person, a delay in rehabilitation can prolong pain and delay recovery. During recovery, especially for acute muscle injuries, it is advisable that patients begin rehabilitation as soon as possible. Muscles do not respond well to inactivity following an injury. Starting therapy sooner can help guarantee success and recovery throughout the treatment journey.