Help, I’ve injured myself! Is massage a good idea?

Whether massage is right for you will depend on when you injured yourself, the type of injury and your symptoms.

Here I’m going to talk about acute injuries. They are sudden, sharp, traumatic injuries that cause pain. Most often resulting from an impact or trauma such as a fall, strain, sprain or collision. Typically it is a very specific event and you know exactly when you hurt yourself! Some examples:

  • Slipping and falling on ice, landing on your shoulder and hearing and pop.
  • Hearing a snapping sound and feeling sharp pain in your calf whilst out running.
  • After catching a basketball you are unable to move your finger and it looks deformed compared to your other fingers.

Acute inflammation is the first stage of the healing process after an injury. It sets the stage for all healing that will follow. Depending on the extent and location of the injury this stage can last from 48 hours up to 6 days. Classic signs of acute inflammation are:

  • Heat (skin feels warm to the touch)
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Pain
  • Loss of function (normal day to day activities are difficult or not possible)

Often there are also muscle spasms in the area to splint and protect the area from further damage. Massage is usually great for reducing spasms but we don’t want to reduce these spasms as it could lead to further injury. The best recovery approach during this acute stage of injury is:

  • No direct massage on the injured area. In some cases if the injury is very mild, massage above the area may be appropriate.
  • RICE therapy (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) to manage the inflammation is recommended.
  • Try gentle and pain free movement to maintain your range of motion in related joints and body areas.
  • Wait!! Best guideline is to wait a few days to let inflammation calm down before thinking about getting a massage. When there is no heat and no redness in the area massage can be used.

I would encourage you to get your injury evaluated by a physician if:

  • You have significant bruising at the site of injury or elsewhere.
  • You heard a sound when the injury happened such as a ‘pop’, ‘snap’ or ‘rip’
  • You are in any doubt at all about the seriousness or the injury and how to care for it.

When healing has moved into the next stage (subacute stage) which begins anywhere from 2-6 days after injury and can last up to 21 days from date of the injury, massage can be very useful in supporting the body during this stage of recovery.

If you have injured yourself but are not sure if massage is appropriate for you, please give me a call or email and we can discuss the best options for you.