Can't Get Out of Pain?
So many people are fighting a battle with feeling chronic pain. Although there are a ton of ways to figure out what the root cause of the pain is, I believe there are a few things that people & providers can do better when assessing and treating pain. Now, this doesn’t really relate to an acute or traumatic injury, this post is talking about those nagging injuries. The aches and pains that people have had for a long time that can go away temporarily with different quick fixes but not permanently.
Three things I believe that contribute for people being STUCK in pain:
Only looking at the site of injury ⇨
When looking at a human body, we are not isolated joint by joint. We move as an integrated system. In school, we are taught to evaluate the site of pain and to look at the joint above and below. Some joints tend to be more mobile and some more stable. So lets say you come in and you have some chronic pain in your knee. A provider that goes directly to the evaluating the knee can miss out on many other vital ingredients to where this pain is originating. You have a bunch of muscles that intersect at the knee joint that also intersect at the ankle and hip. Your knee does not only bend and straighten it also internally and externally rotates and people truly tend to forget that there are degrees of movement there. Your pelvis or foot can be a massive contributor here as well! If there is a lack of mobility in the ankle or hip, the knee may have to take the excess forces and if theres a lack of knee rotation those excess forces have no where to go so it can result in pain! You have to stay alert and look at the big picture instead of zeroing in and isolating the specific spot of pain.
2. BREATHING ⇨
Air in needed to survive. The body will do anything & everything to give the individual air. If someone can’t get air in, it will do things such as change your pelvic, back, neck and ribcage position all to just get oxygen. The path of least resistance always wins!!!
3. Too much stretching ⇨
You can spend all day stretching out a muscle and it may help you temporarily, but it isn’t going to make long term changes, and if it does my guess is it will be changing it toward your pattern of dysfunction. Stretching feels great but not all things that look and feel great are good for you. Let’s pick on hamstrings for example..becasue everyone loves to stretch their hamstrings. Now if your pelvis is tipped upwards such as an anterior pelvic tilt, then your hamstrings are constantly on a stretch. Now, they may always be feeling tight because the nervous system is sending that signal to your brain that they are “tight” however, if you look at this image below it is clear that they are being stretched all day everyday. In order to relieve the pain, the individual goes and stretches and already stretched out muscle which can lead to even more pelvic instability long term and not to mention, not actually fixing the root issue. We need to look way deeper and find which are the overactive muscles are pulling the individual into a pattern of dysfunction instead of just stretching what “feels tight ”.
Let’s dive a bit deeper into POSITION!
Studying Postural Restoration Institute has taught me some fundamentals of human anatomy that I think school has really missed. (That is why conditioning education exists!!) PRI prides itself in it’s research and I have seen the evidence based research the institute puts out and it is no joke!
The PRI anatomy talks about how we are ASYMMETRICAL humans. Yeah, you heard me. Both our half are not created equal. So what does that exactly mean?
The lung on our right side of our body is bigger than the lung on the left side.
Our diaphragm (main muscle of inhalation) is larger on the right than on the left side.
Our brain is not symmetrical! Not a shocker here.
We tend to stand more on our right leg, and sit more on our right ischial tuberosity. (If you’re sitting down or standing up sense your weight, I can bet 95% of you are chillin’ on that right side)
This can create some “imbalances”. Now I put that word in quotes because every trainer and their mom says they need to fix their “imbalances”… NO NO, you don’t need to fix anything. Actually, these asymmetries are normal and human. But what happens if you’re in pain? We need to dive deeper and help guide you into a better position to handle life stressors, positional mechanics and breathing. So how can we help get you out of pain and into a better position? In order to be an optimal human, we need to be in an optimal position to move and to live. We need to reeducate the body and brain by stimulating or utilizing the muscles the individual has neurologically toned down and we need to inhibit the ones that are overworked and overtired! When we do this, with time our brain will eventually feel better in the newer position and be able to hang out there for longer bouts of time. Seems like a simple idea right? It can be! Of course, being coached through this is the best way to help get the body out of pain producing patterns however, there are a few things you can do in your day to help!
Swing your arms when you walk. ⇨ When you walk and you swing your arms, your ribs will move in an alternating fashion. We want that ribcage to be mobile! Swinging your arms can help! When you swing that right arm especially it allows for the movement of the ribs but also allows for air to enter that right chest space which as humans is a bit harder than getting air into the left chest cavity. (Also side note, most people hold their phones in their right arms when they walk down the street. Make it easy for yourself and just stop doing that!)
Stand on your left leg, sit on your left sit bone ⇨ Throughout your day you may notice that you are on your right side more than your left. Sense your left leg while standing and sense your left sit bone while seated and that can help balance it out a bit!
Sense your left heel ⇨ While walking feel that left heel hit the ground. That sensation automatically puts you in contact with your left hamstring!
Train Asymmetrical ⇨ We aren’t symmetrical so even if you do a bilateral sport (Olympic Weightlifting/ Powerlifting) take a day and do asymmetrical movement!
Breathe ⇨ Fully exhale. And pause after you do so. We all need to spend time focusing on our breathing. When you exhale completely your obliques fire and your abdominals do some work!
And for some humor….. 😂😝
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