Soft tissue injuries go through 3 phases en route to recovery:
- Inflammatory phase
- Fibroblastic/Proliferation phase
- Remodelling phase.
Let’s discuss each phase -
(remember that injuries differ and that the times stated below are guidelines so do overlap with each other)
- Inflammatory phase
When soft tissue structures (muscles, ligaments etc.) are torn during an injuring event, blood vessels may also be damaged and localized bleeding will occur.
Blood vessels respond to trauma by narrowing their diameter (known as ‘vasoconstriction’), slowing bleeding and allowing the opportunity for a blood clot to form. The blood clot “plugs” the ruptured blood vessels at injury site.
About an hour after the injury, blood vessels start to widen their diameter (known as ‘vasodilation’), to allow the influx of various inflammatory cells, antibodies etc. to the area. These cells are the clean up crew of the injury’s debris and the builders of new muscles cells.
[Phagocytes, for example, are cells that are directed to the injury site and act as antibodies that destroy bacteria and dead cells from the area.]
Even though the inflammatory phase is still very early in the healing process, the laying down of collagen (the protein building blocks of muscles) is initiated here.
[The type of collagen laid down in the inflammatory phase is not as strong as the type of collagen of the Proliferation phase.]
What to expect:
During the inflammatory phase you will experience more pain than in the other phases. The reason for this is the chemical irritation of the nerve endings by the swelling and bleeding at the site of injury.
The inflammatory phase is set in motion by the injury and can last up to 6 days. In some cases it can last up to two weeks.
- Fibroblastic/Proliferation Phase
The proliferation phase is also known as the repair phase.
It is in this phase that “wound contraction” happens, i.e. the wound starts closing as the margins of muscle fibres are pulled together.
The most important aspect of this phase is that lots of collagen (protein building blocks) is being laid down, and more collagen means increased tensile strength of the muscle fibers at the injury site.
[Tensile strength refers to the resistance the muscle fibers have to being torn.]
The proliferation phase can start as anywhere from between the fourth day after injury to 2 - 3 weeks after the injury. In some cases this phase can last 2 -1 2 weeks.
- Remodelling phase
The remodelling phase is the last of the 3 phases of healing.
In this phase the collagen that was laid down in the proliferation phase is being matured and the final orientation and alignment of collagen fibres is completed.
At the end of this phase, muscle tissue’s integrity and strength starts to returned to normal but is still vulnerable. Careful loading of the previously injured tissue is advised.
The remodeling phase can range from 2 - 4 weeks after injury, and can last up to 6 - 12 months post injury.
In the past 2 or 3 months, we have seen quite a few patients at the practice that, on evaluation, presented with weakness of the Gluteus Medius muscle. These patients’ main complaints were not pain in the Gluteus Medius muscle but more often complain of “runner’s knee” (also known as patella femoral pain syndrome/PFPS) or pain in the achilles tendon region.
This previously-neglected-now-much-talked-of muscle is, as millennials say, “the bomb” when it comes to rehab of the lower limb. Thus we give Glut Medius centre stage in this blog.
Let’s take a look at some facts:
Gluteus Medius is one of the three bilateral (one on each side of the body) buttock muscles essential to gait. Together they are the main movers when moving one’s leg backwards and to the side.
Origin and insertion
Gluteus Medius is a fan-shaped muscle that arises from the rim of the pelvis and inserts on the greater trochanter of each femur (that bony bump on the outside of you upper thigh bone).
Both Gluteus Medius muscles are innervated by the Superior Gluteal nerve which is a branch of the large sciatic nerve.
During walking, Gluteus Medius has the very important function of keeping the pelvis level (Moore). This allows one leg to stand securely on the ground while the other can swing forward to take a step.
Gluteus Medius also
- brings the leg out sideways
- does both inward and outward rotation of the leg, depending on which part of the muscle is being activated.
[If the front part of Gluteus Medius is active, it assists with inward rotation of the leg, as well as with forward bending of the hip. When the back part of the muscle is active, it assists with outward rotation of the leg and extending the leg backwards.]
Gluteus Medius’ role in pelvic stability during gait, makes them important muscles for good, painfree gait.
Why strengthen? Think
- improved lower limb balance
- improved lower limb control
- greater muscle power
- greater muscle endurance
- pain relief
- injury prevention
We use a forward lunge to do a functional screening for weakness of the Gluteus Medius.
Start standing upright with enough space to lunge forwards. Give a large step forward into a lunge and step back into starting position.
Repeat a few time on each leg.
As the Gluteus Medius controls rotation of the leg as well as providing stability around the hips, watch for inward roll of the knee. A weaker Glutues Medius will be unable to keep the lunging leg’s knee cap facing forward.
Here are a few of our with favourites -
Stand with your back against wall, take a large step forward.
Bend one knee and put your foot on the wall behind you, the other leg remains weight-bearing
(the weight-bearing leg is going to be doing most of the work).
Mimic the motion of running by bending and straightening your weight-bearing knee, remember to add arm movements.
Position yourself lying on your side, hips and knees bent about 45 degrees, ankles stacked together.
Keep your feet together and lift your top knee to hip height. When lifting the top knee, don’t roll your pelvis backwards, keep the hip bones aligned
Tie stretch band around your ankles.
Using very large steps, walk sideways for 10m, e.g. leading with you right leg. Return to your starting position but know lead with your left leg. Repeat 2 - 3 times.