Recovering from an injury can be a frustrating and challenging experience, especially when it means taking time off from our usual activities. Many of us have been told to rest completely when recovering from an injury, but recent research suggests that relative rest may be a better approach for promoting healing and preventing further injury.
Relative rest is a form of activity modification that involves reducing the intensity or duration of activities that aggravate the injury while still maintaining some level of physical activity. Absolute rest, on the other hand, involves completely avoiding physical activity altogether.
So, why should physical therapy patients consider relative rest instead of absolute rest? Here are a few reasons:
- Promotes Healing: Relative rest allows the injured area to receive the nutrients and blood flow necessary for healing, while still preventing further damage. In contrast, absolute rest can cause the muscles and tissues to weaken and atrophy, which can delay the healing process and prolong recovery time.
- Maintains Cardiovascular Health: Physical activity is essential for maintaining cardiovascular health, and absolute rest can lead to a decline in fitness levels. Relative rest allows for low-impact activities that maintain cardiovascular fitness without putting undue stress on the injured area.
- Prevents Muscle Atrophy: Absolute rest can cause the muscles surrounding the injured area to weaken and atrophy, which can lead to further injury and delayed recovery. Relative rest allows for low-impact activities that help maintain muscle strength and prevent atrophy.
- Supports Mental Health: Physical activity is also essential for maintaining mental health and preventing depression and anxiety. Relative rest allows for low-impact activities that can help patients maintain a positive outlook and support their overall well-being.
In conclusion, relative rest is a valuable tool for promoting healing and preventing further injury when recovering from an injury. As physical therapists, we work with our patients to develop personalized treatment plans that take into account their unique needs and goals. By incorporating relative rest into their recovery plan, we can help our patients recover faster, maintain their physical and mental health, and return to their usual activities with greater ease and confidence.