Managing soft tissue injuries

As with any injury, early management of soft tissue injuries can be crucial in the overall outcome. Soft tissue injuries account for many of the injuries we see day to day. Many might be wondering what falls under the umbrella term ‘soft tissue.’

Soft tissue includes many structures in our bodies such as muscles, ligaments, and tendons. These tissues are commonly damaged during a traumatic incident, rolling your ankle for example, or a direct blow to the injured area. Many soft tissue injuries are as a result of repetitive strain, or in the absence of any notable incident or event. There are various potential contributing factors for such an occurrence including inadequate training load, environmental factors, age, technique and previous injury history. Your physiotherapist can be a pivotal part of identifying the driver of your pain and should be consulted as soon as pain starts.

Acute management of soft tissue injuries is most effective using the R.I.C.E principle. This principle is summarised below:

  • Rest
  • Ice
  • Elevation
  • Compression

Things to avoid following soft tissue injury are represented by the H.A.R.M principle.

  • Heat
  • Alcohol
  • Running
  • Massage

Following soft tissue injury it is essential an athlete allows the tissue enough time to repair and then rehabilitate before returning to sport. Time off sport varies according to the structure affected and the severity of the damage, however commonly time- frames for return to sport following soft tissue injury hold true. Ensure you consult your physiotherapist prior to returning to sport to ensure you have met all requirements in minimising injury risk.