Tissue healing has three phases, Kelly Starrett told participants at a one day seminar at CrossFit Santa Cruz on March 14, 2009. Starrett is the owner of San Francisco CrossFit and a Doctor of Physical Therapy.
The inflammatory phase generally lasts 0-36 hours. The body has mobilized the troops. Swelling is maximal. The “emergency guys” are migrating from other tissues to help. That response is good, but needs to be slowed down. Immediate and frequent icing is essential. Icing once every two hours is best; twice a day is the bare minimum. Five minutes of ice massage using a paper cup equals 20 minutes of loosely packed ice applied to the injury. Starrett advises filling up a Dixie cup with water, freezing it and peeling away the edge. “That thing is freaky cold, pinpoint, brilliant icing,” he says. Icing stops pain messages from getting to the brain and the rebound effect after warming begins creates bloodflow that promotes healing.
The proliferative phase generally lasts two days to two weeks. New tissue, including scar tissue, is being laid down that needs to be re-modelled.
The remodeling phase generally last two to six weeks. An example of this phase is tendons being re-shaped. For trainers, the challenge is to prevent the cycle of re-injury that occurs if too much is attempted too soon.