Pure Physio Blog

Early versus Delayed Rehabilitation after Acute Muscle Injury

Published on
19 Oct 2017

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Rehabilitation: How soon is too soon? In today's article Collins Street Physiotherapist, Adam Lincoln, summarises the latest research on why early rehab plays an important role in acute traumatic muscle-strain injury.

The Study:

The New England Journal of Medicine released a paper this September on a study involving 50 amateur athletes with an acute injury of either the thigh or calf muscles. Patients were recruited within the first 48hours after injury and randomised into a group that started rehab at 2 days after injury, or a group that waited until 9 days after injury.

The rehabilitation of both groups was the same:
WEEK 1: daily static stretching
WEEK 2-4: daily isometric loading
WEEK 5-8: heavy strength training
WEEK 9-12: functional and strength training

The Results:

The study found that time to return to sport in the early rehab group was 3 weeks FASTER (THREE WEEKS!) than the delayed rehab group (62 days v 83 days). Furthermore, pain levels reduced much faster in the early rehab group.


  1. Immobilisation and delayed rehabilitation after an acute muscle injury prolongs pain and delays return to sport.
  2. Patients should start rehabilitation with loading/strengthening exercises as early as safely possible following a muscle injury.
  3. Amateur athletes shouldn’t take a ‘wait and see’ approach with acute muscle injuries. They should have their injury assessed within 48 hours by a physiotherapist and appropriately rehabilitated with a progressive strengthening and loading programme . This will reduce their pain levels and get them back to sport quicker which ultimately is what every patient wants!


We’re Here to Help!

If you have had a recent injury and need an assessment of your injury call our friendly team today. We can tailor a rehabilitation programme based on the latest research and specific to your own goals to get you back doing the things you love

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