Warning! We are going to talk about the big, scary monster that looms over many of you, myself included. Injury.
I’m sure you just had a shiver go down your spine hearing that word. For many people, the word injury is like a plague. We run from it if we don’t have it and try to hide it if we are injured.
It can lead to lost time at work, detract us from our goals, and make life just miserable overall.
But you aren’t alone in your injurious life. 31 million Americans experience low back pain at some point and one study showed a 12-13% prevalence of anterior knee pain in women 18 to 35 years old.
Acute vs. Chronic Injury
Before we can go forward we must distinguish between acute and chronic injury. Acute injuries occur suddenly and typically are your ligament sprains or concussions. Most occur due to contact in sport or a misstep in life.
Chronic injuries are typically due to overuse or microtrauma collecting overtime. When I think of chronic injuries I think of tendinitis, disc injuries, or other low back pain disorders.
For the purpose of this article we will primarily focus on chronic injuries as they afflict the majority of people.
Recalibrating Our View of Injury
Dr. Mike Wasilisin from MoveU.com had a genius quote on his instagram story a couple days ago that inspired this blog post. He said, “You don’t HAVE a diagnosis, you have a MOVEMENT issue.”
The diagnosis of your pain may only tell you the source of the discomfort, but it does not tell you the root of the issue. It is time to shift our view of injury. Time to look at injury or pain as a symptom of an inefficiency elsewhere.
Your tendinitis didn’t just happen. It took months and even years of microtrauma caused by poor and inefficient movement. This inefficiency could be caused by previous acute injury and resulting compensations or it could be caused by imbalances created by our daily lives.
So now that I have told you that you are a motor moron, what are you supposed to do??
Most people wouldn’t know good movement if it hit them in the face with a shovel. But luckily there are people who can identify and teach good movement. Physical therapists, athletic trainers, and some fitness professionals understand efficient movement as well as how to create it.
So you’ve been told that you have a bulging disc?? Did that doctor tell you how to fix it?? Well he may have given you some medication or an injection to calm the symptoms but has that fixed the root of that problem?? Probably not.
This is where a rehab specialist and then later on down the road a well-trained fitness professional(strength coach or personal trainer) can help you reach a pain free life. If you don’t take care of the root cause of the injury, no amount of medication is going to help in the long run.
Rethinking Your Physical Therapy or Physical Conditioning
My biggest pet peeve about the rehab world is that often their only goal is to decrease your pain. As an athletic trainer, my goal is and should be to not only decrease your pain but prevent it from ever happening again.
Too often I hear of people who are cleared back to their daily activities to only be back in pain again. Why? First of all they were not taught how to properly move or properly reconditioning to get back to their job or sport of choice.
If you’ve had back pain, did your therapist or personal trainer teach how to lift heavy objects? Did they teach you how to squat properly or land correctly when you told them you had a history of knee pain?
Rehab, and then exercise, should be making us more efficient and better movers. It should also be conditioning us to have greater capacity so that our daily lives are not as stressful on our bodies.
Good rehab and exercise is making you a better and more efficient human, not just decreasing your pain