How to handle pain and injury
Sometimes we get injured because of bad luck but very often it is a symptom of a constantly repeated bad movement pattern.
For example, if a runner is heel striking in his runs for years with his feet pointing out there is a high likelihood of ankle, knee and hip injuries.
Very commonly the runner with the hip injury would think his problem is in the hip and go and try to ”fix his hip” or he might see running as the cause of the injury and not acknowledge that the problem lays in his tight ankles or running technique. And since 80% of runners get injured every year this lack of knowledge is a big problem.
When it comes to the gym you might have issues with a shoulder, a knee or something else. If we take an athlete with an issue in his knee he might not be able to do heavy squats, or a lot of running, for that matter, and it is easy to believe that he needs to ”fix his knee” so he goes to the doctor and wants surgery. In the MRI they discover that parts of the meniscus are bad and the athlete decides to do a surgery and cut out parts of the meniscus to reduce the pain. He stops training for 2-3 months and then starts to train again and the pain is gone, however he has not paid any attention to the initial cause of the problem that made his knee to crumble. A couple of years later his knee, or the other knee, also blows out and he has to go under the knife again.
This is one of the main reasons why we do the mobility screenings where we can determinate what is not moving as it should. Any restriction in our basic human function will lead to compensation which will eventually lead to pain and if you don’t do anything, you get injured.
Getting injured is a likely pre-cursor to future injuries if not healed properly but one of the biggest hidden causes for injuries is that the athlete does not come back to training or avoids to train old injured body parts due to angst and other phycological road blocks.
When it comes to movement, Dr. Kelly Starret uses the tunnel analogy, meaning every movement has a starting point and end point. If your car, aka movement, has a bad trajectory at start it will hit the ball and bounce out on the other side. Your car, aka joint, might survive but get damaged and the worse the trajectory the worse the damage will be.
Since we are heavy into analogy I would also like to widen the concept of a chain reactions when it comes to our health, so let me present my Billiard ball theory. In your life you have one body (aka the white ball) and the trajectory of your health and life is managed by your decisions and outer conditions (aka the billiard cue). If you are sloppy with your aim, the white ball will not go in its optimal line to hit the ball (aka your health) you are aiming at, and there will be a chain reaction to that. Cause and effect. The good thing is, as in billiard, at first we are not very good at aiming but it makes a huge difference if you make an effort as you try to your best and your aim will improve. The great advantage of our bodies is that they are very resilient and can handle a lot of mistakes. You will fail and learn from your failures. However, if you don’t put any effort into your first 100 shots your game will not get better and the consequences will be that you will have to pay for that. The more you play, the more you learn, and the impact of your endeavours will allow you to be more in control of the game even though sometimes life (the other game players) throw you a curve ball.
If you get injured, try this protocol:
1. Why did you get injured? Was is an accident or did i slowly come up?
If you have a hard time answering this question, you have to seek help.
2. What might be the underlying problem?
If the root cause is clear, i.e. you know you are compensating a stiff thoracic spine, then you probably need to work on that area.
Again, if you uncertain you need to seek professional help.
3. Try to correct and relentlessly work on the main cause of the problem, avoid going around the problem.
If you are good at taking care of yourself, great at creating good habits then you create a plan and follow that.
As soon as you notice you are lacking motivation it is time to find a way to get yourself back on track.
4. What opportunities does this create for me to work on?
Strengthen your other weaknesses and discover how much that will add to your overall wellbeing.
5. Start training as soon as possible but slow down and let the body adapt gradually
The faster you can be back playing the game the better for your health and longevity.
It is of deepest importance to start loading your joints and muscles and that will make recovery come even faster.
Remember though; Move slow to recover fast!