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Injuries are apart of participating in sports, but luckily the body has the amazing ability to heal itself. The body’s innate ability to create chemical reactions and cellular metabolism are the back bone to our body’s healing ability. Science has allowed us to understand how this works and consequently how to manage injuries. This article will highlight the type of injuries that can occur, the phases of healing, and the basics on how to handle these type of injuries.

Injuries happen to all types of tissues. A muscle strain is when muscle fibers tear, usually due to forcibly stretching a muscle actively or passively. Tendinitis is inflammation of the tendon itself due to an acute irritation, whereas, tendonosis is inflammation of the tendon as a result of repetitive overuse.

To find out more about how injuries happen and how you can proactively prevent and treat both acute and chronic injury, like and Osteopath read more on the Breathe Blog. A sprained ligament is usually due to an acute incident which causes ligament fibers to tear. Bone fractures are when the bone tissue is compromised, which results in a simple or compound fracture.

When tissue is damaged, the body goes through a predictable sequence of healing – the 3 phases of healing are the inflammatory phase, the fibroblastic (repair) phase, and the long term process. The inflammatory phase is generally the first 3-4 days where the site of injury is red, hot, swollen, and there’s a loss of function. The inflammatory phase is a result of cellular injury, which leads to altered metabolism and chemical mediation. The fibroblastic phase begins around day 3 and takes up to 6 weeks. The fibroblastic phase is called the repair phase because it is the period where cells proliferate and regenerate, leading to a scar formation and the repair of the injury. The last phase is the long term process, which lasts 6 weeks to years and focuses on strengthening the injury by applying appropriate stress and strain on the scar. It’s critical that injured structures are exposed to loads progressively to increase strength, facilitate the remodelling and realignment of fibers and help with the range of motion.

When these injuries occur the athlete should look to “POLICE” their injury – an acronym that stands for Protection, Optimal Loading, Ice, Compression, Elevation. Protection can be broken down into examples like shielding the injury by using a cast, using a sling or crutches to take load off the joint, and preventing joint movement by using a splint or cast. It’s especially important to unload the injury site when dealing with acute soft tissue injury. Optimal loading is the stage when rest should be replaced with a balanced, incremental rehabilitation to encourage a fast recovery. Icing plays a vital role during the inflammatory stage because it freezes out nerve pain, decreases the metabolism and secondary injury, and prevents further swelling – ice does not reduce swelling! The best method of icing is to have a combination of ice and water in a plastic bag compressed on the injury site, and follow a regimen of “10 minutes on 10 minutes off”. Compression helps to limit the amount of blood flow to a region by up to 95% if tied tightly and 60% if loosely wrapped. Lastly, elevation can help reduce blood flow to the site of injury, but it must be at least 30cm above the heart. Elevation reduces blood flow up to 20% when it’s 50cm and 25% when the injury site is 70cm above the heart.

By understanding the type of injury and the phases of healing, health practitioners can help facilitate a healthy recovery. If you are dealing with any type of injury or pain, please seek professional advice.

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September 18th, 2019

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Acupuncture being performed on shoulder

One of the most common complaints I hear from clients is how stressed they are. This is true for people coming in for all sorts of reasons, often not even related to those stresses!

It seems that our lives are now so full that we are living in a state of low level (and sometimes a high level) “fight or flight”. We are always focused on what is right in front of us, and therefore long term priorities fall to the backburner. 

This is sometimes referred to as being “sympathetic dominant,” but in Chinese Medicine, we think of this as stagnation. As we continually incur ongoing stresses, bodily energy gathers up, waiting in the ready for some kind of action. In this gathering mode, though, it is stagnant—not moving freely as it normally would, to be used as needed by various bodily functions. 

This response can be natural and good: if you are about to run a race, give a presentation at work, or have an altercation with a sabre tooth-tiger. If it becomes too constant, however, the de-prioritized functions will start to weaken, or even crash.

This can lead to other kinds of health complications, such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia and poor sleep
  • Digestion problems
  • Tension and body pain
  • Headaches
  • Women’s health issues (such as menstrual disorders or menopause symptoms)
  • Acne and other skin problems

While it is clear that constant stress can have far reaching negative effects, most of us cannot weed every bit of difficulty or jaggedness out of our lives. Work, family, money: these have stressors built-in. The solution, then, lies not in changing the stressful input, but in managing bodily reactions better. In order to become less reactive to stress, in order to manage stress-related symptoms, the body must switch over from the sympathetic “fight or flight” to the parasympathetic “feed and breed” (also known as “rest and digest”) mode. I often think of this state as the “healing mode.” In Chinese Medicine we understand this state as one where stagnant energy is unblocked, so that it can circulate smoothly through the body. When energy is regulated and moving well, it is optimal for self-repair.

Acupuncture is a particularly effective to help manage stress and help reduce reactivity because it can provide short-term symptomatic relief, and also be used preventatively to manage stress, anxiety and all the related issues. 

Acupuncture can help you take control of your health and keep anxiety at bay—allowing you to rest, relax and heal. With regular acupuncture treatments, you can retrain the negative patterns caused by acute and chronic stress, and start addressing problems at their root.

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August 15th, 2019

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