Often times, injuries occur when the activity we perform exceeds exceed our tissue capacity. With our bodies, we have an “envelope of function” and zone of homeostasis where it’s basically the amount of activity and load we can tolerate and manage pretty well at without any symptoms or injuries. If we provide our bodies with just enough stress and load, our bodies are able to adapt and get stronger – ex. utilizing progressive resistance in a gradual manner to improve strength.
However, if we exceed past this manageable range with too much stress, we may start to possibly see some injuries and reactive responses such as pain occurring due to us surpassing how much our tissues can handle. Exceeding our “manageable zone” can occur via a sudden increase in load, training frequency, and intensity. Other influencers and factors that can also influence our bodies ability to tolerate and manage load include life stressors (ex. starting new high stress job, sudden sickness in the family etc), sleep, and nutrition.
With injuries, our manageable zone will often shrink and become much smaller than what it was prior. Activities that we used to be able to tolerate are now outside of what our tissues can manage and pain/symptoms come on much sooner and faster than before. For example, a runner who used to be able to run for 1hr without any issues, is only able to walk and is unable to even run at all now without experiencing pain due to running demands and impact forces exceeding her current tissue capacity.
With this, it also shows why resting and not doing anything after an injury is not the best approach. Often times, there is a common myth and belief that staying off and resting an injury is the best way to heal and get you back to your normal activities pain free. While initially resting for the first 24-48hrs can be beneficial to calm things down, you want to start finding tolerable movements to help strengthen and improve capacity in the injured area. Resting an injury for long periods of time such as a month may only result in 4 weeks of deconditioning and weakening of the surrounding tissues.
For example, say the same runner who is unable to run anymore due to pain decides to completely rest for 4 weeks. 1 month later, the runner gets out there, and is able to run for a few steps, maybe even gets up to 0.5miles before the same pain and symptoms sets in again. This is because they never took the time to increase and expand their “envelope of function” and manageable zone. Their tissue capacity is still where it was a month ago (maybe decreased even more due to deconditioning) and is still unable to tolerate the loading and impact demands of running the distance she wants to be able to run.
With rehab our goal is to increase your envelope of function and expand your “manageable zone” to the upper right so that your body can tolerate and perform the activities you love. Through a systematic approach, we want to find the perfect amount of dosage and loading so that we can drive positive adaptation to the injured area. It’s extremely crucial to get the amount of dosage “just right.”
Too little and underloading the area and you won’t get anywhere as it won’t be enough to cause positive and favorable results. Too much and overloading the area again too fast too soon can cause a reactive response and a flare up.
As Doctors who specialize in performance and sports rehab, we are able to help guide you through the recovery process. We take the guessing game out of the equation and create an individualized gameplan together with you so that you can get back to the activities you love pain free.
If you’ve been dealing with pain and you’re not sure how to go about navigating your injury, get in contact with us! We’d love to chat with you to see how we can help you get back to your sport pain free!