Rest or Activity-which is better after a back or neck injury

So you have had an injury to your back.  You are going for treatment, or maybe havent started yet.  What do you do about healing, to give you the best possible outcome.   You want to give the injured tissue the best chance of recovering its strength,elasticity and pre injury status.

Biology of soft tissue

If you have a whiplash injury of a lifting injury,you have a soft tissue injury.   What structures in the body make up soft tissue?

Soft tissue consists of tendons,ligaments, fat,muscles and nerves. to name a few.  When an injury such as a car accident, or a low back injury occurs tissue is torn.  It will bleed after tearing,so in some areas such as the ankle black and blue will be seen around the injury. In the back and neck there are layers of muscle that cover the tendons and ligaments so bleeding will not be seen

Healing of Soft Tissue

.When the tissue tears you will feel  pain and stiffness. The main two components of soft tissue are collagen, which gives soft tissue its strength, and elastin which allows flexibility in soft tissue.    Once the injured tissue starts healing it will form scar tissue called adhesions.  Scar tissue is made of collagen,  So the new scar tissue is strong because it is made of collagen. But it is not as flexible and pliable because elastin is not being produced.  This is why after a soft tissue injury you can feel pain and stiffness for many months and years after the original injury.  The new tissue lacks materials that allow fluid and painless motion.

Rest vs Motion after injury

So what is the best path to take after a back,neck or other soft tissue injury.  The answer is movement for several reasons.  Motion after an injury prevents swelling that will increase with inactivity.  Thats why when you have back pain it is difficult to get out of bed in the morning.  The lack of motion from sleep promotes swelling.  Also when new tissue is being developed during healing, if there is less activity the collagen will be laid down in a haphazard way,like a like throwing paint on an easel in a random pattern  When the tissue is moving, the collagen will develop in the path of motion and be more flexible as it develops.  So avoid laying round after that initial injury and afterwards.  Get up ,keep mobile and get better faster.

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