How to Speed Up Injury Recovery with Stretching

How to Speed Up Injury Recovery with Stretching

Choosing the right type of stretching technique during your rehabilitation period has a significant effect on the speed of your recovery. In fact, implementing the wrong type of stretching technique could actually lead to further injury and slow down the recovery process.

At Goodyear Chiropractic Health Center, we know that the recovery process of a soft tissue injury can be broken down into a number of phases. That is why we ensure that the right type of stretching is used for each phase.

The First 72 Hours

The most effective, initial treatment for soft tissue injury is the R.I.C.E.R. regimen. This involves the application of: (R) rest, (I) ice, (C) compression, (E) elevation and obtaining a (R) referral for appropriate medical treatment.

The R.I.C.E.R. regimen significantly reduces recovery time; however, during this phase of the rehabilitation process, no stretching should be used at all. Stretching during this early stage can cause more damage to the injured tissues. 

The Next 10-14 Days

The most effective treatment at this stage is the use of heat and massage, while also implementing gentle static and passive stretching stretching techniques.

What is static and passive stretching?

  • Static stretching  means a stretch is held in a challenging but comfortable position for a period of time, usually somewhere between 10 to 30 seconds. Static stretching is the most common form of stretching found in general fitness, and is considered safe and effective for improving overall flexibility.
  • Passive stretching means you’re using some sort of outside assistance to help you achieve a stretch. This assistance could be your body weight, a strap, leverage, gravity, another person, or a stretching device. With passive stretching, you relax the muscle you’re trying to stretch and rely on the external force to hold you in place.

It is very important to note that you should only do light, gentle stretching during this period to avoid further injury.

The Next 2-5 Weeks

The aim of this phase of your rehabilitation process is to regain all the fitness components that were lost as a result of the injury. Regaining your flexibility, strength, power, muscular endurance, balance and co-ordination is the primary focus.

So what type of stretching is best to use during this phase? Stick with the static and passive stretching exercises described above, but also include PNF Stretching.

  • PNF stretching, or Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation, is a more advanced form of flexibility training that involves both the stretching and contraction of the targeted muscle group. PNF stretching was originally developed as a form of rehabilitation, and for this purpose it is very effective for increasing flexibility and improving muscular strength.

Looking Long Term

Once you’re over your injury and have started to regain the fitness components that were lost during the injury process, it’s time to focus on making the injured area stronger and more flexible than it was before the injury occurred. To do this, the best types of stretches to use are dynamic and active stretching exercises.

  • Dynamic stretching uses a controlled, soft bounce or swinging motion to move a particular body part to the limit of its range of movement. The force of the bounce or swing is gradually increased but should never become radical or uncontrolled.
  • Active stretching is performed without any aid or assistance from an external force. This form of stretching involves using only the strength of your opposing muscles to generate a stretch within the targeted muscle group. The contraction of the opposing muscles helps to relax the stretched muscles.

While the recommendations of this article are a good starting point, Goodyear Chiropractic and Health Center can actually design a treatment plan specific for your injury, which will help you recover faster. For more information, please contact us today!