Phases of Healing and Recovery (Inspired by Louis Gifford) | Kaizen Physiotherapy Health Centre


Very soon after an injury it can get extremely sensitive. Think of that twisted ankle and that horrible ache that develops. The ankle soon stiffens up and it can be extremely sensitive to even light touch. Small movements can feel quite tender and make you limp or walk stiffly. Louis Gifford calls this the ‘STOP MOVING ME’ phase of recovery and healing. This is usually the same for back strains, or most other tissue strain for that matter. Think about when the back ‘went’, and you froze, unable to move.


Usually, within a few days, it starts to get a bit more comfortable (this also could be minutes or hours, or it could be weeks). The ache lessens a little bit and you might be able to find positions where there is no pain. It still probably hurts to touch and move, but you can tolerate a little bit more. This is the phase where you start to move a bit more normally but still with caution. You might recognise during this phase that sometimes when resting or first thing in the morning, a stiff ache might build up and movement helps it. You might also find that gently pushing into the pain might start to free it up a bit more and result in reducing sensitivity. However, if you overdo it, it will let you know and force you to step back a bit. This is the GET ME MOVING phase.


You gradually progress into the next phase and you are starting to forget it and get back to some normal activities again, but in a gradual way with a little caution. Soon it is forgotten about. This is the FORGET ABOUT ME phase.

This is ideal healing and recovery, and hopefully the case for most injuries. However, if this were always the case for everyone I would be out of a job. In my experience with people with ongoing persistent pain, their pain doesn’t move from the ‘STOP MOVING ME’ phase to the ‘GET ME MOVING’ phase and finally into the ‘FORGET ABOUT ME’ phase. A lot of people are still locked in the ‘STOP MOVING ME’ phase. What is important to understand here is that the ‘GET ME MOVING’ phase is vital, and movement and loading is needed for best possible healing and reconditioning of tissues. Whether it is skin, muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones, or nerves, they all reach a stage where they need movement and loading for best possible healing. My job is to help people find ways of moving and getting their tissues stronger, when their pain seems to be stopping them from doing this.

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