So not only has the ice melted but rest is getting a move along. For a long time, the common practice has been to rest an injury. Immobilise the joint or muscle for a period of time until the pain has subsided. So why has this changed? Well it is due to our better understanding of how the body heals and adapts to stress.
For example, say you hurt your neck and every movement causes it pain. So you put it in a neck brace for a week. The neck brace supports your neck, it takes the stress away from the muscles and joints then the pain subsides. So what happens when you take the brace off? Your neck will feel stiff. Why? Because it hasn’t moved for 7 days. Your neck may feel weak. Why? The muscles that hold your neck up haven’t been used as regularly, because the neck brace has been holding your neck up for you. Also your neck muscles will start to atrophy. Atrophy is where muscles waste away. The reason the muscles waste away is when they are not being used. It is how the body adapts to stress or lack of stress. The more we use a muscle, the bigger it becomes, and the less we use a muscle the smaller it becomes. Remember the saying, if you don’t move it you loose it. It is just the body’s natural process of adapting to our requirements.
So what should I do if I hurt my neck? Apply heat, it helps reduce the muscle tension. Keep your neck moving through a comfortable range. It is ok to move towards the pain barrier, just don’t push through it. The more you move the more you should find the comfortable range improves. This movement keeps the muscle activated and moving and it maintains the range of motion of the joints. If you find your range is not improving or pain is becoming worse then it is best to consult your Osteopath.
This doesn’t only apply to the neck, but for other joints as well. A recent study on ankles showed that patients that included early movement in their treatment had fewer treatments, better function and a quicker return to activity. Though keep in mind some parts of the body may require a period of immobilisation (rest) to allow healing, so it is best to get a proper diagnosis.
Click here to read part one of this series R.I.C.E Has The Ice Finally Melted