Injury Classification

Strains, sprains & immune systems:

Strains:

Are muscular injures (this includes tendons and tendon-bone junctions). They are usually an indication of minor damage, not major tears and certainly not ruptures. However, there will always be some mild disagreement over where a strain becomes a notable tear. Lets not get bogged down with that.

They very often are ably treated with some straightforward self-help. The average healing time can be expected to be:

Muscle only – 5 days to 3 weeks.

Tendon only – 2 – 6 weeks

Tendon – bone junction – 6 – 9 weeks.

It is fair to say that some strains are so minor that they seem to resolve miraculously despite how they may feel initially. This can be difficult to fathom but is related to our “pain systems”. Never has something so complex and wonderful as pain been so simplified. Suffice to say there is NO pain centre or dedicated pain tracks.

Sprains:

Sprains are a term usually applied to ligament or similar connective tissues. And again are not major tears or ruptures.

Any injury outside a strain or sprain has more clearly de-marked medical classifications or grades given to it.

Ligaments sprains on average take 5 days to 3 weeks to resolve.

A very important note at this point – symptoms like pain are not necessarily an indication that all your trouble started at one point or that when pain is gone that all your trouble is over. Your injury may have been developing for weeks or years due to training style, footwear and dare I say it ….. genetics. Likewise the healing process goes on after the pain and becomes a continuous structural re-organisation that you can influence positively or NOT.


Immune Systems:

This is an enormous topic. Without an immune system we die. Without it even a basic cut will not heal. The IMMUNE SYSTEM is the governor of our healing capabilities – inflammation to name one small part that it controls. The system is made up of a variety of key areas:

  • A special part of the nervous system (The Autonomic Nervous System)
  • Various parts of the brain (notably the hypothalamus)
  • Glands like your thymus (in the neck and upper chest)
  • Lymph nodes (all over the place like your armpit)
  • Part of your kidney (the adrenal gland).

It communicates its actions and exerts controls via nervous impulses and nerve chemicals and via the circulation. It is intimately integrated with all the “pain systems” and with everything that makes us us; our thoughts, knowledge, feelings and emotions. The term psychosomatic, most of us have heard of it or have used. It means mind and body – it does NOT mean imagined, made up or that we have some mental illness; it is real. Therefore the way your mind works affects your body. Think on when you are getting more and more naffed off because you cannot run!

Therefore getting fit or over injuries has a lot to do with how we are, how we are feeling, coping and enjoying our lives. It has to do with general health and what we believe is wrong with us when injured or unwell.

It is powerful and can be harnessed to your advantage.

More about it along the way.


Repair:

All tissues (bar skin – to some degree and bone) heal with scar tissue they do not regenerate. Scar tissue is not as good as the original tissue but encouraged properly is pretty damn good – certainly good enough. Scar tissue is the end product of repair / healing.

There is a minefield here – “what about anti-inflammatory pills then” …. “What about those steroid injections”. Good questions that will be answered along the way. However, correctly used at the right times they are invaluable to the repair system but are not always necessary. AND, there are alternatives, more later.

The healing process is three phases (they are not rigid, definite time scales but a blended integrated series of stages):

Inflammation – acute and chronic (chronic is a very different beast to acute and I am sure will come up for discussion). It is acute (new) that most of us are familiar with. The usual signs of heat, redness, swelling and pain to some degree are the tell-tale signs.

Cell proliferation – the initial structural building of real consequence.

Remodelling – probably goes on forever.

Pain is usually diminishing through 1 & 2 and is more “tightness” and odd twinges in early 3. It is not always like this, as either you have found out or will.

Reproduced by Kind Permission AJ Leigh 2001