You spent the weekend lifting/carrying heavy boxes to help a friend move? Or did a new workout and now have shoulder pain? Maybe you rolled your ankle at pick-up soccer? You have pain, now what?
RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) is in the past. Early mobility is in. This is of course after you have ruled out a potential fracture (broken bone). For overuse injuries, or sprains, you will want to first manage pain and swelling. You can still ICE (ice, compression, and elevation) within the first 48-72 hours after the injury, however, you will not be completely resting. You will perform gentle movements, within pain free ranges of motion in order to maintain mobility and range of motion. The longer you “rest” in certain positions, it completely unloads the area of pain/injury. This is needed during the early phases, however you should still be moving in some capacity, and this depends on both the area of inury and severity.
Our Body Adapts To Demands Placed On It
If we do not load our body in any sense of the word (weight bearing, moving r using the injured arm/leg etc), it will not adapt because there is nothing to adapt to. If we work on range of motion in the very beginning of an injury, our body will get used to moving in that range, and over time, be able to gradually increase back to your normal range of motion without too much pain. The key is gradual movement and increasing load over time. If you try to go from 0 to 100, it is going to painful and your body will not have time to adapt, and therefore feel like what you are doing is not working.
When to Start Physical Therapy
Early! Like I mentioned from the start, early mobility is imporant. If you are not sure what to do on your own, you are going to want to seek out a physical therapist right after your injury to learn how to manage it. What you do, or do not do early on impacts the speed of your recovery. If you wait 3 weeks until after an ankle sprain to see a physical therapist and do nothing in that time, it is going to take you longer to re gain your ankle range of motion, and therefore progress to strengthening, loading and return to activity as a result. Start physical therapy early to get back to what you and your body love doing!!