Injuries happen in all walks of life, particularly for athletes. An important concept to understand is how your body recovers and the phases of tissue healing.

  • Phase 1– Inflammatory (Day 0-6): Following the injury your body will start the process to repair the damaged tissue. This results in an altered chemical state as your body sends chemicals to the injured area. Why do you have pain and swelling? Chemicals sensitize the area to remind you to avoid aggravating it more. While excessive swelling is bad the initial swelling is your body starting the process to heal.
  • Phase 2– Proliferation (Day 4-24): The damaged tissue is in the process of being repaired. Repair does NOT mean healed. Following the injury your body is haphazardly connecting the points to repair the damaged structure. This initial connection is much weaker than the original uninjured tissue.
  • Phase 3– Maturation/Remodeling (Day 21- 730): The tissue is repaired and your body is remodeling the weak tissue to return to its prior state.

These numbers are dependent on the tissue that was damaged and the circulation in the area.

Key points to take away:

  1. If you interfere with the healing cycle then healing will be delayed.
  2. Often the damaged structure will repair, even if you do not do anything.
  3. Tissue repair does NOT mean the tissue is healed. The tissue may not be 100% as it was before.

This last point is why a proper rehabilitation program is so important.

Pain inhibits motor function. Tissue damage interferes with strength. No pain does not mean you have functional movements.

If you rush or ignore the proper steps you can develop dysfunctional movement patterns and/or compensatory strategies which may lead to more injuries later or chronic injuries that do not go away.

Dr. Mike Piekarski, DPT
BJJ Black Belt
Former MMA Fighter