There is no doubt that rest is important to help your body recover.
However, is rest alone enough to get you back to what you love to do?
This depends on a few factors, firstly, the type of injury influences how rest helps.
Some injuries benefit from rest more than others, for example often an inflamed joint will benefit from rest more than a strained muscle.
Rest, in the initial stages of an injury, can help the acute inflammation.
Secondly, you also need to consider what activities you are trying to get back to doing. The level of demand required will determine how hard your body needs to work to perform the activity successfully.
It’s important to understand the effects prolonged rest has on the body.
Potential Effects of Prolonged Rest
1. Muscle weakness and atrophy (muscle wasting)
2. Joint stiffness
3. Tight muscles
4. Bone weakness
But Need to Get Back to Playing Sooner!
If you are an athlete and need to get back to your sport, the last thing you want is to be weaker when you return.
It is common for athletes to strain their muscles and just rest for a couple of weeks. The problem with rest, in this case is, that you are not addressing the real issue which is increasing the muscle strength to protect you from future injuries.
Your best option is to use rest for a few days before then starting a rehab program. This way you are using rest to treat the acute inflammation and not allowing the negative of effects of rest to have an influence.
A Rehab Program is not just for Elite Athletes
For those of you who are not athletes, it is just as important to understand how to use rest when you sustain an injury.
The best way to do this is to get advice from your physio on what exercises to keep you strong and healthy. Even though the demands on your body are not the same as an athlete you still need to make sure you give your body the best chance to recover after an injury.
The Best Advice
The best advice I can give is to get an accurate diagnosis of your injury. This will allow you to get a rehab plan in place to ensure you will provide the best chance for your body to recover from your injury.
Rohan Hattotuwa, myPhysioSA Partner Physiotherapist & Consultant Physio to Adelaide Crows (AFL)