It is nearly impossible to live a healthy lifestyle, competing in sport without picking up an ache or pain somewhere along the line. In many incidences, with rest and graduated return to activity, these aches and pains settle and people can make a swift return to competition.
The human body can adapt and compensate in the blink of an eye, slightly altering the way it moves in order to decrease the stress placed through an area that has become achey or painful. The problem that we see regularly is that over time these compensations change the way that we move, as a result of the recovery from an ache or a pain, overloading different areas of the body.
Have you ever taken up running as a pastime to maintain your fitness and keep yourself in good shape? Perhaps you have a desk job and have previously played a variety of sports. As you increase the mileage you start to get a knee pain. Gradually as you continue to run, that knee pain increases. Eventually, the pain either limits the distance or time that you can run or it stops you running altogether.
So you visit a health professional who offers pain relief advice (anti-inflammatories, massage, etc.) but the pain continues. The symptoms are being treated or to some degree alleviated but the underlying problem likely still persists.
If an x-ray is taken, there will likely be some wear and tear in the joint explained as slight arthritis, (did you know, arthritic change is known to be present in the active population above the age of 30?) The diagnosis becomes that of knee wear and tear and the treatment is to strengthen the knee as much as possible (and it is not unknown for the advice to be stop running full stop). This treatment is carried out for several weeks with little or no change in symptoms. By now, you are getting frustrated and depressed that you cannot carry on running, which leads to grumpiness and dissatisfaction!
The question that arises is ‘have all factors that might cause the pain actually been eliminated’? At Bodymechanics, we have found on countless occasions that while health professionals are listening to your present complaint, they are not incorporating all of your medical history and the emotional and psychological factors that may play a role in generating the pain.
For example, often it is deemed irrelevant that someone had a neck injury 5 years ago playing rugby, or sprained the ankle playing netball or had RSI from computing and was experiencing stress at work, as these factors have no proximity or relevance to the presenting pain area.
Imagine that a knee pain sufferer has previously had a whiplash (albeit many years ago) and is stressed at work. Their body will have reacted to the whiplash pain by altering the way the painful area moves (a protective mechanism). Unless these alterations were properly addressed at the time, the altered way of moving will have become the new normal way of moving i.e. the mind and body know no better than to continue with this altered movement pattern.
Their shoulder may have become slightly elevated as the muscles guard around the joint that was causing the pain in the neck. The neck movement will be slightly less, therefore when the person turns they will use their thorax (rib cage and spine) more than their neck. Muscles will get tight and more strain will go in to the lower back.
As these accommodations go further down the movement chain, they tend to grow, so when the movement gets to the knee, there is a greater twisting force than usual going through the knee and therefore more wear and tear (and more importantly pain) occurs. Stress at work is increasing the muscle tensions and therefore exacerbating the symptoms. And so it goes on.
As you can see, the diagnosis is correct but the precipitating factors have not been resolved. Instead an attempt at a management strategy has been put in place. Why did the health professionals not take in to account the limited movement of the neck? Why didn’t anyone look at the body as a whole rather than focusing on the pain?
We hear questions like this regularly. The answer is in not listening to the entire story, and not putting together pieces of the puzzle in a systematic assessment.
With a specialisation in movement and pain, the Bodymechanics team has helped thousands of people across Surrey and London recover from issues affecting their daily lives and sporting endeavours and are excited about continuing this help with the Guildford community. We have 3 other clinics in Walton-on-Thames, Worcester Park and Moorgate.
Schooled by world renowned physiotherapists we are experts at helping people overcome pains or injury to achieve their goals. Our clientele range from the sedentary lifestyle to the elite sportsperson, we are keen to help every body.
If you have been getting aches and pains or feel that your body is holding you back, perhaps during your sessions here at The Pilates Foundry, please don’t hesitate to get in contact for an assessment.
Currently, we run these clinics at The Pilates Foundry:
- Monday 8am – 12pm
- Wednesday 5.30pm – 9pm