The effects of early mobilisation and immobilisation on the healing process following muscle injuries

Sports Med. 1993 Feb;15(2):78-89. doi: 10.2165/00007256-199315020-00002.


The biological processes following muscle injury include 2 competitive events; regeneration of muscle fibres and the simultaneous production of granulation tissue. We have studied the effects of early mobilisation and immobilisation on the healing of rat gastrocnemius muscle following partial rupture by a controlled contusion mechanism. Muscle fibre regeneration is inhibited by the formation of dense connective tissue scar. Immobilisation following injury limits the size of the connective tissue area formed within the site of injury; the penetration of muscle fibres through the connective tissue is prominent but their orientation is complex and not parallel with the uninjured muscle fibres. Immobilisation for longer than 1 week is followed by marked atrophy of the injured gastrocnemius muscle. Mobilisation started immediately after injury is followed by a dense scar formation in the injury area prohibiting muscle regeneration. When mobilisation is started after a short period of immobilisation a better penetration of muscle fibre through the connective tissue is found and the orientation of regenerated muscle fibres is aligned with the uninjured muscle fibres. Although a little delay in healing processes in muscles mobilised after short immobilisation was found morphologically, the gain in strength and energy absorption capacity was quite similar and as good as that of muscles treated by early mobilisation alone.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Athletic Injuries / pathology
  • Athletic Injuries / therapy*
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Collagen / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immobilization*
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Muscles / injuries*
  • Muscles / pathology
  • Muscles / physiology
  • Wound Healing* / physiology


  • Collagen