How Long Does it Really Take to Recover from Injury?

One of my university lecturers took the controversial view that every person who injures themselves should have a cross carved into their arm by a scalpel. The idea being, when the cross has healed, so has the underlying injury. The problem is, if an injury is soft tissue (muscle/ligament/tendon etc), it is visually hidden from view. If you can't see it, you're not aware that it exists. My lecturer's thoughts were good, even if slightly macabre.

But maybe there's a less invasive solution. By appreciating how long it takes for the body to repair itself, you may wait a bit longer before you start picking up heavy things after your next injury.

The following diagram shows the events following an injury, from within minutes of the injury to 24 months later.

tissue remodelling

Major points of note from the above:

  1. Inflammation begins at 30 minutes, and can persist for six weeks if not iced and rested.
  2. Return of muscle contractibility may take up to two months.
  3. Full remodelling and strength return may take two years.

These healing times can be further extended by any of the following retarding factors:

  • Old age.
  • Low serum protein.
  • Lack of vitamin C or calcium.
  • Hormonal imbalance.
  • Excessive steroid levels.
  • Irritation (ie: use when you should be resting).

Take heed of the recovery times. Appreciate that the road to recovery can often be a long one. With a smart approach to recovery, rehabilitation and programming, you can maximise your return to full function.

Dan Williams's picture

Dan Williams

Dan Williams is the Founder and Director of Range of Motion. He is an Accredited Exercise Physiologist and Exercise Scientist with a Bachelor of Science and a Bachelor of Exercise Rehabilitation Science. Dan is a CrossFit Coach (at CF Games Level) and four time CrossFit Regionals Athlete.


  1. So my calf hasn't really healed yet? Damn!!


  2. Just did my ankle! :(


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