September 4, 2015

Dictionary.com defines change as the following:

CHANGE
verb (used with object), changed, changing.

To make the form, nature, content, future course, etc., of (something)
different from what it is or from what it would be if left alone:
To change one’s name; to change one’s opinion;
To change the course of history. 

trapped

Not sure if this office setup has the lumbar support I need..

What a simple, easy to understand, straight to the point definition.  And yet, as simple as it is to understand, why then do we humans have so much trouble implementing change into our own lives?
I’m not talking about changing the tires on your car, or, the vacuum bag, or your little human’s diapers; although some of these things are dull, taxing, or unpleasant.  I’m talking about real change.  Meaningful life-altering change.

Four years ago I found myself in a terrible position.  I was stuck in a dead end job with no further room for growth.  I wasn’t learning any new skills or even really developing my current skill set.  The monetary compensation was less than adequate, and I was oh, so very bored.  I can look at that time now and easily identify these symptoms for what they were:  I was stuck.  I needed a career transplant.

I was trapped in this Grand Canyon-sized rut where it became easier to do nothing than to fix my situation. I had absolutely no idea how to get out of it.  I was walled in and (thought) I didn’t have the tools to get myself out.

But everyone has a boiling point, don’t they?  Everyone will eventually find themselves in a position where change becomes inevitable.  And sometimes, all it takes to initiate that change is a little luck, a little timing, and a little pro-activity.   Jamie, a co-worker of mine at the time, knew of my struggles with the daily grind and had often been a sounding board for me when I had to let off steam.  Jamie turned out to be the husband of my current employer, the incomparable Jen Wright.

Taking action, finally

Combine the fact I had recently returned to high school to obtain my diploma after a 17 year hiatus (that’s a change story for another time) with an increasing difference of opinion on certain matters with some of my co-workers led to me investigate a suggested employment agency here in the city. I set up the appointment to meet with someone in a fancy downtown office; I took their online office skills test, and went for the follow up meeting on a Friday after work.  I was told that they would be in touch with me and that was that.

It was the following Monday when Jamie stepped into my office and said to me.  “Jenny is looking to hire an office manager, are you interested?”  Boom.  All of a sudden, I had a lifeline.  It was like Regis had just given me an extra phone a friend and I was about to become a millionaire.

The next week when the employment agency called, I happily told them I had found what I was looking for and that their services would not be needed.

I don’t normally put a lot of stock in Karma or that kind of thing, but I can honestly tell you that I believe the only reason that the offer came my way was because I had taken the first step and had unknowingly asked the universe to give me the change I needed.

sea creature

“Try the Human, it’s delicious”

The reason people have trouble with change is because, not surprisingly, it’s really hard.

It’s like jumping into a lake you’ve never swam in before.

You know that moment when you’re standing on the dock, imagining all the hideous and murderous monsters that are right now swimming just below the surface?  That’s how change can feel.  Scary.  Scary, slimy and covered  in murder-y scales.

Change is difficult for me because I like things to be consistent.

Everything in their place and all that. The big win for me was learning to realize that things were broken and out of place.  It took me a long time, but I did it.

When I finally realized that I couldn’t keep doing things the way I’d been doing them, the universe responded with a giant “Well it’s about time.  Here, take this happiness and meaning.  Have a good day” and vaporized all the sea mutants waiting below the surface.

So yes, change is difficult.  But is it essential to survival?  Yes.  Is it one of the keys to happiness?  Probably.  Have and will I continue to look for opportunities to evolve?  Certainly.

 

We at Whole Therapy want to hear from YOU! Take a picture or write a post about your #ChangeOneThing experience. Don’t forget to use the hashtag #WholeTherapy as well. 

 

Pat Moore is the office manager at Whole Therapy.  Pat works alongside a team of dedicated professionals and is here to help ensure that your visit at Whole Therapy is as pleasant as possible.  For more about Pat, click here!

Pat

March 30, 2015

stress-pencil-cropped

So I’ve had a pretty interesting couple of weeks:  I purged my pants collection and only kept those pairs that made me feel fabulous.  I decided not to do a fitness show in lieu of eating well for health. I’ve been busy.

It’s been exhausting, to be honest.  But I can’t believe how much I’ve learned in such a short time.

The biggest lesson of this week was handed to me by Karen, our amazingly knowledgeable Holistic Nutritionist.  I made an appointment with her when I realized how stressed out I’d been, and spent an hour and a half filling her in on the details of my eating, sleeping, elimination and exercise patterns.

I’m astounded by how cathartic just the assessment was; it was like seeing a psychotherapist and divulging my mental health issues (which, I suppose food issues are, anyway).

Karen knows her nutrition.

Karen knows her nutrition.

Our follow-up this past week left me reeling.  As I had suspected, I was teetering on the edge of adrenal fatigue.  For the uninitiated (like I was), adrenal fatigue is when your adrenal glands are releasing too much stress hormones (cortisol and epinephrine) and causing your system to be out of whack.  I could go into a whole slew of jargon here, but the long and short of it is this:

Too much adrenal stress leads to poor digestion, fatigue, and unstable blood sugar, all of which I was experiencing.

Poor digestion leads to me feeling yucky, bloated, and fat, which leads to more stress.

Fatigue and unstable blood sugar leads to lots of coffee drinking and cravings galore, which then leads to me eating crappy, not digesting well, and feeling yucky, bloated, and fat… wait, didn’t I just say that?

Basically I was trapped on the hamster wheel of stress, and my body was like, Until you fix the problem, I’m not going to listen to you.

No wonder I wasn’t leaning out like I wanted to!

Talking to Karen was enlightening and refreshing.  Being in the fitness and health industry for over 15 years has taught me a lot, but it’s interesting to note that none of my knowledge helped any when the focus was me.  I was blind to what I needed.  I needed help, and she was it.

So.  I’ve started a plan to fix all of this hamster-wheel crap.  At Karen’s recommendation, I started a few supplements designed to get my digestion back on track.  I’ve eliminated some foods (and caffeine – ughhhhh) for ten days to stop the over-stimulation of my adrenals.

Side note: Have you ever tried to stop coffee cold turkey?  SO not enjoyable. I had to wean off; it wasn’t fun.  But after only 3 days I feel markedly clearer in the head.  Win!!

In addition to the supplements and food changes, I’ve also been given strict instructions to take an hour of “me time” every day.  I balked at that at first – do you know how busy I am, Karen?  But then I realized that an hour (sometimes taken in 10 minute chunks) is not a whole lot of time.

I can do me time for 15 minutes before the little one wakes up.  I can do it on my lunch hour at the gym.  I can do it driving home listening to whatever kind of music I want, car-dancing my head off.  And I can do it at night before bed with a book or a TV show with Husband Jamie.  It’s doable.

It’s been 3 days, and I’m already optimistic.  I feel clearer, more alert, and already I can feel a positive change in my stomach.  I’m starting to feel satisfied after meals instead of crave-y, and even though I thought I wanted more coffee just now, I was pleasantly satisfied with green tea.

Can I change?  I think so.  It’s happening.  One step at a time, and with some help, but it’s happening.
The journey continues.

Jen Wright is an RMT and the owner of Whole Therapy. She is an avid gym-goer and loves to lift heavy stuff.  She sees clients of all ages and stages, especially those who are engaged in bettering themselves.  She believes that pain-free is possible.  For more about Jen, click here.

Jen

March 6, 2015

Thai Massage is an ancient modality used by Buddhists to stay healthy during their travels. They believed that through the combination of Yoga and Massage, one could heal from almost anything.  It is done in a relaxed setting, on the floor (with mats) and fully clothed. Each treatment is tailored to your needs, putting you through a variety of stretches combined with massage techniques.

The foundation of Thai Massage is that the whole body needs to be treated in order to aid in the healing process. Therefore, each treatment will not only focus on problem areas, the whole body will be addressed.  Thai Massage is designed help with mobility, flexibility, stress reduction, boosting your immune system, and helping to align the body’s energy through direct work on the Sen (the energy lines of the body).

Melissa Beals, RMT performing Thai Massage with Jen Wright, RMT

 

Although treatments can be done in 60 minutes, I highly recommend a 90 minute treatment for the full benefit of this style of therapy. The extra 30 minutes means a smoother and less rushed pace leading to increased relaxation.
If you get cold easily, I recommend long loose pants (sweats or yoga pants) and a long sleeve t-shirt. Or if you tend to be warm, shorts and a tee, or a combination of either. Remember I am moving you through the poses and you are expending no energy to keep yourself warm.

If you have any questions about Thai Massage, please feel free to contact me at the clinic!

To read about Jen’s experience with Thai click here.

Melissa Beals is an RMT with Whole Therapy. Melissa works extensively with athletes of all levels with a goal in mind to increase their athletic performance through education and understanding of their bodies. See more about Melissa here.
Melissa

 

March 2, 2015

“I hate my jeans.”  Ever said that?

I have big legs.  Always have.  “Solid”, or “strong” if you’re trying to be tactful, but big nonetheless.  Stocky is how I have always been built – I can see my chubby little legs powering me around in pictures of my childhood.  I stopped growing at 5’0”, around the time I turned 12.  My legs have never been long, graceful, or slim.

As such, buying jeans and pants has always been an ordeal; one that I came to resent. Over time I slowly amassed a collection that fit kinda-sorta-ok-but-not-perfect, and throughout my twenties I was able to get by without buying too many more.

And then I had a baby, and my whole body changed.  Ugh.

After I lost the baby weight (an ordeal unto itself, believe me), I was looking forward to being “me” again and wearing the clothes that I had packed away for a year.  I pulled on my favourite pair of jeans, ones that I had worn in to fit semi-roomily around my thighs and butt, and… they didn’t fit.

Wait, what?

Panic, momentarily: I thought I was back to normal. Are these the right jeans? Yes, they have that small rip near the right heel… these are the ones! But they’re not fitting! Did I throw them in the dryer by mistake? Holy crap, what’s going on?

I tried another pair: tight in the thighs, tighter than usual.  And another: loose around the middle, tight in the bum.  Another: overall just… not right.

What the heck is going on?

I stared at myself in the mirror for awhile, sans jeans.  I didn’t hate what I saw: I’m strong. I lift heavy weights and I run; I have muscles in my quads and calves, and only minimal cellulite.  I’m (relatively) proportionate from top to bottom, and I have pretty nice skin.  But I guess I’m different now, in structure.  Maybe my hips are a little wider.  Maybe my fat distribution has changed because of hormone shifting, and pregnancy, and age.

I stared for awhile longer, and then I realized the right answer: Jeans are just evil.  I needed a new perspective.

They're. Just. Jeans.

They’re. Just. Jeans.

My jeans are not me.  They’re just clothing.  They don’t deserve all of the power I have been giving them all of these years.  I deserve that power, because the body under those jeans is me.  And as a living, breathing person who is pretty awesome, I should have priority.

I need to stop letting my jeans dictate how I feel about myself: If they fit well today, it means I’m a better person.  If they’re too tight, I’m going to feel fat, and gross, and worthless.  False.  What was I thinking?  Saying it out loud puts it all further into perspective.

Jeans. Are. Just. Clothes.

But saying it isn’t enough. I have to do something about it.  So here goes: I am purging my closet of pants.  All of my pants.  Total fresh start. All of those jeans and slacks and cords and dress pants that I’ve amassed over the years.  All of those useless things that hang in my closet and torment me because I’m afraid to try them on lest they don’t fit well and make me feel bad about myself. All of them are going.  I’m going to embark on a new-pants mission.  I’m going to try on jeans and judge them on how they fit, not myself on how my legs are genetically.

I can’t control the way my body is, naturally.  I can continue to be in good shape and treat myself well so that the pants I do have fit the best they can.  And I can, with a little practice, remember that jeans are just jeans.

I’m not wasting any more hate on them.

 

Jen Wright is an RMT and the owner of Whole Therapy. She is an avid gym-goer and loves to lift heavy stuff.  She sees clients of all ages and stages, especially those who are engaged in bettering themselves.  She believes that pain-free is possible.  For more about Jen, click here.

Jen

 

February 25, 2015

So you’ve gone and hurt yourself, huh?  You’re a gung-ho weekend warrior with a twinge in your back and aren’t sure what to do about it.  This isn’t unusual.

We get all kinds of people coming through our doors who’ve injured themselves in brilliant and creative ways.

As I sit here compiling this literary masterpiece, a client walks in with back spasms that are causing him visible discomfort.  “How’d that happen?” I say.  “I was choking on some long grain rice and coughed so violently that I threw my back out” he replies.  Believe me when I say we’ve seen and heard it all.  You may find yourself asking “What kind of treatment am I supposed to get?”  With all the various types of sprains and strains you may be unlucky enough to receive, where to start can be an overwhelming decision.   Here are a few things to consider:

“Yer aff yer heid!”

1.What is your level of pain?

If you’ve got a full-scale broken back, you’re going to want the emergency room and not deep tissue massage.  An honest evaluation of the pain you are in/damage you have done is important at this stage.  Open wound?  Hospital.  Arm dangling at a weird angle where you KNOW there isn’t a joint?  Hospital.  Tightness in the lower back after trying the caber toss for the first time?  Whole Therapy!  While our therapists are often told that they have magic hands, they cannot perform lifesaving surgeries or repair broken bones.  We’ve had people come in to see us that could barely move let alone stand being touched or physically manipulated in any way.  Not being a hero at this point and seeking medical attention is best.  On the reverse side of the coin, going and waiting in an ER for 10 hours only to have a Dr. tell you to see a physiotherapist isn’t a lot of fun either.

It can be tricky sometimes to gauge the type of potential damage that may have been done after you landed on your back in the middle of the Rideau Canal whilst distracted by that delicious Beaver Tail in your hands. We get that.  While it’s always best to err on the side of caution, be realistic.  The hospital staff won’t thank you either for taking up their time with a minor scrape or the proverbial bobo.

Now that you’ve determined you don’t require immediate medical attention, you’re looking for some pain relief, rehabilitation, and a plan of action for your recovery.  The next step is to..

2. Consider the type of injury.

Chances are, if you’ve rolled your ankle you’re going to want a more rehabilitative and active treatment; most likely a visit with our physiotherapist, or our chiropractors.  If you feel the situation is more muscle or tissue related, you could also consider our team of massage therapists.

One of the great things about our multi-disciplinary approach is how perfectly our services complement each other.  We often have clients come in for “the double”.  This usually consists of a massage treatment to soften you up followed by a chiropractic adjustment to straighten you out!   We also double up on the physio and acupuncture fairly often.  Perhaps the most effective combination of all though, is the combination of our minds.  Each practitioner here will view things in a slightly different way as their training and expertise dictates.  It’s common practice amongst them to pick each other’s’ brains for answers to tricky questions involving your rehabilitation.  It’s this collaboration upon which the Whole Therapy philosophy is based.

3. What can I afford?

Another thing to consider when booking an appointment is your insurance coverage.  Many of you will have private insurance that allows for some spending on different types of clinical services.  Maybe you’ve got coverage for physiotherapy but not chiropractic.  Perhaps it’s the other way around.  Perhaps you’ve only got coverage for one type of service or perhaps you’ve got everything under the sun covered.  It’s worth finding out before you call in so that we can better serve your budget AND your needs.  That being said, sometimes your maintenance program will continue after your benefits have expired.  Don’t worry.  We want to see you as little as possible but as much as necessary.  That means finding out together what a maintenance plan looks like for you.  The initial treatment and following few appointments will likely be closer together, but as you progress from injured to pain-free to functional, the frequency with which you attend will likely decrease. Benefits are wonderful in that they can mitigate the cost of rehab, but they should not dictate the extent of your rehab.  Consider this.

So don’t worry.  Hurting yourself happens, whether it be from coughing up rice, tossing around cabers, or falling while skating.  We’ve seen it all, remember?

Hopefully this information helps you figure out where to start.  If you’re still stumped, give me a call. We can figure out together how to get the ball rolling.

Pat Moore is the office manager at Whole Therapy.  Pat works alongside a team of dedicated professionals and is here to help ensure that your visit at Whole Therapy is as pleasant as possible.  For more about Pat, click here!

Pat

February 13, 2015

chewing3The blog Indelicate Flower: A collaborative blog between three fitness gals originally had it’s home here.  It is a blog about fitness and health, and three womens’ journey to the competition stage.  We decided to make IF’s new home here on the Whole Therapy site, where it would reach even more people.  We hope you like it!
~Jen

I just had the most satisfying meal of my life.  I’m aboard the Carnival cruise ship Ecstasy, and it’s not the quality of the food that made the meal amazing, nor was it the service, although both of those surpassed my expectations.  No, it was the simplest thing that led me to be so gratified.

You’re going to laugh:  I chewed my food.

Here’s how this started: The other day, at home, after the little one was asleep, I made my usual egg and mushroom scramble with salsa, and sat down at the kitchen table to eat.  Husband Jamie joined me, and watched with an astonished look on his face as I began to eat.

What? I was a little annoyed.  Did I have food on my shirt or something?

Do you realize what you’re doing? He asked, looking at me incredulously.

Obviously not, I said, very self-conscious now, wondering what the hell I was doing wrong.

He then proceeded to tell me that every single bite of egg I had taken during that meal (and I would estimate there were at least twenty or more bites), I had not chewed more than one or two times before swallowing.  Seriously?

I was about to protest, when I realized he was right.  Holy crap, I thought.  That explains a lot.  I often have stomach aches after eating. I often feel like I could go on eating another whole meal after the first is gone.  I bolt my food, partly because of my busy schedule (my massage clients are 15 minutes apart, often leaving me with 5 minutes to get my food eaten), partly because that’s just the way I’ve always done it.

I felt ashamed.  Here I am, working to do a fitness show, working to set a good example for would-be fit people everywhere, and I can’t even eat properly?  I wondered, does this affect the digestion of my food (or lack thereof)?  Most likely. Does this affect the enjoyment I have of food?  Most definitely.

Right then, I vowed that the next meal I ate would be much more satisfying.  And I got my chance tonight, during the three lazy courses the cruise ship offered.

I buttered my bread and took small bites, putting the roll down in between.

I sliced off small pieces of chicken and ate them with vegetables, savouring the flavours, the texture.

And I took savouring bites of the chocolate dessert I decided on, marveling at the smoothness of the chocolate, the bitterness of the aftertaste, and the hint of sweetness left behind.  Chocolate has always been good, but this?

I’ve entered a whole new world.

I’m fascinated by the possibilities that this discovery has opened for me.  Could I overcome some of my food issues by paying more attention, enjoying each bite more, and putting my fork down between bites?  It seems a very likely possibility, and one I am willing to explore.

I’ll keep you posted.

Chew on, friends.

 

Jen Wright is an RMT and the owner of Whole Therapy. She is an avid gym-goer and loves to lift heavy stuff.  She sees clients of all ages and stages, especially those who are engaged in bettering themselves.  She believes that pain-free is possible.  For more about Jen, click here.

Jen

February 5, 2015

Ladies ladies ladies! Let’s talk about bras and how they support us, or don’t.  They are meant to aid a beautiful part of our body!  However, I have been seeing a running theme in my practice lately and even out and about on the street.  Ladies, why are you wearing ill-fitting bras with absolutely no support?

I hear all the excuses…”oh this is just my lazy day”, or “this is my bad bra”, or “my other one is in the laundry”, or “I just came from a work out”…again, all the excuses! Bras that you bought 10 years ago, throw them out! Even ones you bought 2 years ago, look at them closely! Does the elastic still support you the same way? Does the cup?  Have you washed them…and dried them?  How many do you have in a rotation?

Why do I bring up this subject? We can’t take our breasts off like we can our bras.  We need to support them!  We honour our bodies with exercise and nutrition, so why do our breasts hang low and depressed!? If you have not been fitted, go get fitted!  If you continue to wear the ill fitting bras, the drag will exacerbate poor posture, which can put aberrant stresses on your neck, shoulders and back. Poor posture can also impair breathing capabilities.

There are some wonderful places here in Ottawa that are both fabulous and more importantly educated on proper fitting.  Check out Brachic (www.brachicbras.com), and Mariannes  (www.mariannesboutique.ca) for more information on how to get your fitting underway.

Whether you’ve just had a baby, have goals to get back to a certain size, or are in the process of losing weight, have ongoing neck and shoulder pain, or headaches…whatever the reason, if you have never been sized by a professional, set up an appointment and go.  If you were sized 5 years ago, 2 years ago, go again.  I promise you, the relief of a proper fitting bra is worth it! And the satisfaction of looking good is even better! No more excuses!

 

Tara Hagan-Fields is an RMT with Whole Therapy.  Tara is a Women’s Health Specialist and Myofascial Release Therapist.  She focuses on the body as a whole and teaches you to do the same.  More about Tara here

Tara3

January 29, 2015

Women can’t do pull ups? I call shenanigans.

“Why women can’t do pull ups.” This was the title of an article written in the New York Times. Since it made headlines two years ago it has been the topic of numerous articles by many different newspapers – all with slight variations of course, but the premise in each was the same: women are incapable of doing pull ups.  According to leading researcher Paul Vanderburgh that is. As you can imagine, there has been some backlash of this article and I am thus throwing my hat into the ring, so to speak.

After reading an article in the Globe and Mail which was based on the original in the NYT, I was outraged that they would put this as headlining news, for all women to see, to justify that it’s ok that you can’t do a pull up because we aren’t meant to. It’s ok if you can’t do a pull up, you don’t need justification for this, yes men and women are built differently, yes some women who train can do pull ups, yes some women cannot, it is a fact of life. But to say that women in general can’t do pull ups? That’s just an excuse to not try.

I feel as though the original journalist did no research into the actual research! It appears as though she had an interview with Paul, but it’s hard to think that someone of his caliber would make a generalized statement like that. So to learn more, I read his research paper (Egads! People do that now?!).

What I found was pretty simple stuff. They had a base of 20 women, all college aged, never been in collegiate athletics and their activity levels ranged from sedentary to active. All this seems pretty standard, yes? In the end, one girl had to drop out of the program so we are left with 19 women. Over a course of 3 months, training three times a week in which they had to complete 33 out of 36 training days these women ran (1-1.5 miles), did squats, bench press, hammer curls, ab work and the all important pull up trainer! I mean really – of course you want to use a pull up trainer if you are training to do pull ups. Paul even stated in his paper that they considered using lat pull down exercises, but they didn’t make sense to the program.

So, of the 19 women, 2 could do at least one pull up to begin with (yay!), and by the end 4 more could do a pull up. So that means on testing day, 6 of the 19 did at least one pull up. Note that these are dead hang pull ups – there is no sway to their bodies while doing it and certainly no kipping (not saying these are wrong but they didn’t fit into the scope of the test). Mr. Vanderburgh also noted that during training, there was an additional 2 women who did at least one pull up. That means 8 women in total! That’s double the number the original journalist claimed. Also, if you wanted to know, one of the girls did 11 by the end (she started with 2).

I love Paul right now, I do, because although statistically he can’t count the two women who didn’t get the pull ups on test day, but did during training, he gave them props for being able to do it. He also knows that those two  were probably over trained for the time of testing. Which is great to note because not everyone trains the same way and some people get over trained faster than others, and some it takes longer, anyway you get the idea…He also stated that several of the women came as close as 7-10 cm away from the bar – they were so close! And was confident they would have been able to complete a pull up if there was more time.

There you have it, 8 of 19 women completed at least one dead hang pull up over a 12 week training program (I think that’s pretty darn good!). If you don’t train for something, how can you expect to achieve it? It may take you longer to get someplace than it does for your friend, but do you give up? No. You keep fighting for it because you want it, because you deserve it. If you don’t think you can do a pull up – try training specifically for it, that is your main focus, do the exercises that are going to directly affect you getting there.

If you would like to read the original article from the NYT magazine, click here.

Flanagan S, Vanderburgh P, Borchers S, Kohstall C. Training college age women to perform the pull-up exercise. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport. 74(1):52-59. 2003.

Melissa Beals is an RMT with Whole Therapy.  Melissa works extensively with athletes of all levels with a goal in mind to increase their athletic performance through education and understanding of their bodies.  More about Melissa here.
Melissa

January 28, 2015

So you went over on your ankle. Now, a black and blue softball currently resides where your ankle used to live. It’s painful, swollen, hot and difficult to walk on. When is this going to get better?!

This is probably the most frequently asked question I get as a physiotherapist. Generally speaking, a moderate sprain/strain can take upwards of 8+ weeks to resolve. HOLY CRAP! 8 WEEKS?! Yes, 8 weeks, give or take. I cannot expedite the body’s ability to heal tissue (I wish I could just place my hands on someone and heal them, I would make a lot of money!). I can merely help create an environment in your tissues conducive to healing. So if you have a swollen, black and blue body part, chances are it’s going to take 8+ weeks to heal itself (And compared to the 20 odd years it took you to become an adult, 8 weeks is pretty fantastic!). Understanding what happens during these 8 weeks, however, can really help prevent re-injury and decrease your risk of things becoming chronic.  

1. Inflammatory phase (3-5 days)

There is not much we can do during this initial phase short of resting, elevating and compressing the affected area. Trauma to your tissues (also known as collagen) cause bleeding. Fluid and other cells (your body’s knights in shining armor) travel to the area to help assess the damage that has been done. The pressure from the fluid, in addition to the chemical soup now residing in the injured area, stimulates nerve endings causing more pain.

Pain limits function. And from an evolutionary standpoint this makes sense. The brain needs to assess the area to figure out what it needs to do to heal itself. It doesn’t want you walking on that sprained ankle, you might hurt it some more! So get those crutches ready and take it easy for those 3-5 days, you have my permission!

2. Repair Phase (3-21 days)

Remember those knights and shining armor I talked about in the inflammatory phase? Well these cells initiate a chemical response which causes blood clotting to stop the bleeding. Fibroblasts also make their presence known in this blood clot. Fibroblasts are cells in your body which essentially act like little carpenters. They come in and help build new tissue. Unfortunately in this stage, Type 3 collagen is laid down. This type of collagen is very weak and has little tensile strength. Its goal is to essentially help plug up the injury!

It’s important to recognize that this new tissue is really weak. Your injury may start feeling a lot better in the next 2-3 weeks. It doesn’t take much to tear this new tissue. Tearing this plug will only bring you back to the inflammatory phase, starting the 8 week process all over again! Re-tearing the tissue over and over again can cause disrepair, which can leave you with an ugly chronic issue.

3. Re-modeling phase (21+ days)

This phase can last up to a year if the injury was severe enough. In this phase, the weak Type 3 collagen is replaced by much stronger Type 1 collagen. Type 1 collage has a lot more tensile strength and makes the tissue more resilient. Type 1 collagen is still not as strong as the surrounding tissue, however, due to its plug-like nature. Most of our tissues are composed of parallel fibers which oppose the forces we put through them. The new tissue is literally a shredded-wheat of fibers, all criss-crossed in a haphazard formation.

In this phase, we can start aligning the fibers in the optimal parallel formation using controlled stretching and strengthening. We also need to work on other important things, but I can’t give it all away in one post! Haha!

Source: http://www.physioroom.com/injuries/supplements/ligaments2.php

Bailey Gresham is a registered physiotherapist for Whole Therapy. She specializes in manual therapy and movement-based therapy. She likes bridging the gap between rehabilitation and performance training.  More about Bailey here.

Bailey