Too much rest may hurt recovery from sports injuries

May 30, 2012

Topic: Orthopaedics

A medical professional can help a patient determine when an injury has had enough rest.

Athletes are well aware of the number of orthopaedics issues they may encounter from sports: broken bones, torn ligaments, muscle aches and so on. According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, RICE therapy may help alleviate the pain from these injuries during the first 48 hours. This regimen consists of rest, ice packs, compression and elevation to reduce swelling.

However, sports medicine expert Rajat Chauhan suggested that too much rest may actually hurt the recovery process from sports injuries, as reported in Live Mint, an affiliate of The Wall Street Journal. The reason for this is that orthopedic tissue undergoes a constant process known as mechanotransduction, as international research has shown. This mechanism promotes activity in connective tissues as a response to external forces.

"In the absence of activity (load), the mechanotransduction signal is weak, so connective tissue is lost (e.g., osteoporosis) or muscle mass is lost," Chauhan wrote.

If an orthopaedic injury receives too much rest, the injured tissues may grow weaker over time, Chauhan added.

The ideal approach in healing may be to gradually increase the mechanical load applied to a healing bone or muscle. A doctor or physical therapist can help a patient determine what is appropriate.

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