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Following an injury, there is a usually some kind of waiting period before we receive in depth physical therapy or typical massage therapy. The tissue needs to go through a certain ‘resting’ period to support proper recovery. Some injuries require longer resting periods than others, like in the case of fractures.

There is an imported European technique that can be used during this ‘resting’ period, following either an injury or surgical process. It can be used effectively right after an injury to help manage swelling, partly because its application is so gentle, but also in that it will not disturb the often painful and tender or bruised site. It can be administered entirely proximal to the injury site (not directly on the injury, but ‘above’ it, or towards the head). This technique (or ‘technology’ as I like to think of it) involves increasing our body’s natural ability to drain extra fluid from the tissue, a process that is happening right now as you read this. The system responsible for this is the lymphatic system.

Our European neighbors discovered during the last century that the rate of flow of the lymphatic system can be increased significantly for short periods of time, up to 10x its resting rate. Using precise techniques, a skilled therapist can manually increase this lymphatic flow, reducing the amount of edema, or swelling that can be produced at a site of injury, whether from trauma or surgery. This technique can be done without disturbing the area, and by minimizing the amount of swelling that gravitates to the site, it supports the physiology of the injury process.

I have used this technique on myself and clients directly following falls, car accidents, burns, fractures (with a cast on!), road rash, bruises, sprains, muscle strains, and a variety of surgeries, spinal, hip, knee, dental and plastic surgery included. I routinely see visible changes in a single session including decreased pain, decreased tenderness, increased ease of movement and range of motion. Tissue that is tight from swelling begins to relax and soften. Where bruising is present, the color will often begin to change from the standard ‘black and blue’ to the sickly yellowish-green we associate with progression of an injury. Often the changes are dramatic.

In addition to swelling, there is an added factor that can slow the healing process. Energetic trauma is a condition that can happen to your body’s tissue through injuries and surgeries. In the same way you or I can go into ‘shock’ following an injury, so too a body part or region can ‘shut down’ or close off. It is in response to this trauma that muscles can tighten and compensations occur, often followed with increased pain over time. Resolution of such a condition requires a physician, or therapist to recognize this issue, and then work with your central nervous system and your injured area to restore it to normalcy. One technique for addressing this is craniosacral therapy.

If you are currently managing a recent injury or a reoccurring chronic one, or know someone who is, consider optimizing your care. These techniques can support you in the acute stage of an injury or surgery and are a tremendous adjunct to allopathic and alternative therapies alike. Like all health conditions, guidance by a quality health care physician can significantly facilitate your rehabilitative experience. Should you be in need such a physician, I work with two who excel in their field.

Wishing all of you full recovery to whatever conditions might befall you.

— Pete Connolly, LMP