Injury and Recovery Time: the Importance of Rehabilitation

Recovery time after an injury as well as resting “properly” is trickier and more important than most people realize. When you are injured — especially from a repetitive strain injury (RSI) — how much rest is enough rest? – Dr. Piero Volpi, Director of the Knee Surgery and Sports Traumatology Unit in Humanitas Research Hospital, explains the importance of recovery after tissue damage.

Why is it important to respect recovery time after an injury?

Recovery becomes more of a challenge when there is more at stake. For example, when you have an injury that is not healing well and is dragging on and on, or a pain problem that cannot quite be diagnosed, recovery takes a longer period of time. It is even more difficult when you are hurt in a way that keeps you from earning a living, or on a body part that is hard to stop using, such as your feet. Equally difficult is when the amount of rest required for healing seem to be cruel and unusual punishment, as with many overuse injuries — injuries that almost always strike at the heart of your work or play.

importance of recovery time in rehabilitationPatients are often even encouraged to do exactly the opposite of rest. This method is commonly known as “working through the pain”. Such an experience involves on-going performance and fitness over rehabilitation. The number of cases where resting is actually treated as a meaningful strategy is outnumbered by cases 10 to 1. Under athletic rehabilitation, the recovery time is respected much more diligently than that in the normal population. This error often leads to relapse, injury of pre-existing injuries caused by a fast or overdone recovery.

What is considered as proper recovery time after an injury?

“When an athlete or an ordinary person suffers an injury, it is important to respect the recovery time that the medical professional has diagnosed. In addition, it is important to follow the timing dictated by the treatment and rehabilitation. After an injury, many people try to speed up their recovery. It certainly indicates a strong will to recover, but the situation may prove harmful because the injured tissues are subjected to stress that they are not ready to deal with while being repaired” explains Dr. Volpi.

Exercise is not always helpful

In rehabilitation circles, there is a common attitude that patients can exercise their way out of any problem. Patients may be encouraged by health professionals to exercise regularly and challenge their tissues with therapeutic exercise. They receive this advice despite a strong possibility that continued exercise is exactly the wrong thing to do.

Before the tissue becomes strained, it often gets “sick”. In such cases, it fails to properly function and repair itself. Once this happens, the tissue loses the ability to tolerate even the slightest pressure. Activities that used to be considered normal and interactive suddenly become a major problem. One way out of such a trap involves getting plenty of rest. It is crucial to stop straining the tissue or it will never have a chance to fully recover.   


Humanitas is a highly specialized Hospital, Research and Teaching Center. Built around centers for the prevention and treatment of cancer, cardiovascular, neurological and orthopedic disease – together with an Ophthalmic Center and a Fertility Center – Humanitas also operates a highly specialised Emergency Department.