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Why could resting your injury be making it worse?


Myths and truths

As a physiotherapist with a specialism in marathon running injuries I’m consistently dismayed at the number of health professionals who consistently advice rest for the recovery of injuries. 

The truth is that complete rest is rarely advisable. The only cases in which complete rest is essential is in the presence of bony damage like a fracture, trauma or if you are ill or have a medical condition. If you don’t rest when you are unwell you can end up with life-threatening illnesses like pericarditis.


The disadvantages of rest

Most injuries respond better to modifying the activity not avoiding it completely. There are many ways that this can be achieved for example by making changes to your running technique or altering the way you are training.

Resting will feel good in the short term but long term it can:

1) Reduce the resilience of the tendons – tendons need to be loaded to recover. If you
have a tendinopathy, previously known as tendinitis, resting it is likely to make it worse
long term. So will stretching it.

2) Cause muscle wasting and weakness, therefore increasing the risk of re-injury.

3) Limit circulation to the joints and nerves and therefore restrict recovery, healing and repair.

4) Cause a deterioration in cardiovascular fitness.

5) Result in reduced performance.

6) Increase the chance of pain pathways becoming established.

7) Drive you mad! Seriously though, rest can be really demotivating.


What should you do?

If your physio, GP or other health professional is advising rest, then it is worth getting a second opinion from one of our running physios. Call 02075838288 or email lucy@octopusclinic.com. We do remote consultations by whatsapp/Skype/FaceTime if you can’t get into London to see us.

We look forward to getting you back on track. 


Lucy Macdonald

Chartered Physiotherapist 


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