As humans, we are all creature of habits. We like to build our schedules around our favourite/ necessary activities or we like eating at the same restaurants or if you’re anything like me, you like having the same hot drink every morning. We often go through these patterns daily without having to put any effort into remembering them because it has become a habit.
Your body is also a creature of habit, the things you do daily or how you sit or stand for hours is going to affect the way your body develops. If your muscles are in a shortened position for a long amount of time, your body starts to think of that position as its “normal”. This might seem like its not that much of an issue but if you try to get yourself out of that position and do an activity that requires a bit of extra mobility in the opposite direction, most often an injury happens which our body recognizes as pain. Unless this pain is quite debilitating, most people ignore it and try and go back to their daily activity not realizing that their body is going to try and adapt to the decrease range of movement and the new-found pain in a way that is not often beneficial. These new ways of movements are what are called compensation patters. Sometimes these can keep the body pain free and give one a fake sense of great mobility until they break down and the pain returns or its even worst.
As a therapist, one of the most common questions I get asked is, “Why does the pain come back after I was doing so well?” I often answer this question with one of my own, “How have your exercises been going?” Most often the answer to this is “I haven’t done them in a while since I was doing so well.”
And that is when the connection is made. The reason why exercises are given after a treatment session is because the treatments helps the body begin to learn how to work properly. If the proper technique isn’t continued throughout the week, weeks, or month, the body goes back to its incorrect pattern and that’s when the pain returns.
A lot of the people that I see for lower back pain, often have some abnormality going on in their hips. Either their quads and hip flexors are too tight from sitting too much at a desk or a driving job, or their lower back muscles over work due to imbalances in their glutes and hamstrings. Once I work on the abnormality going on in their hips, the exercises that are given are ones that either strengthen the muscles that won’t fire and/or stretch the muscles that have been shortened because they’ve been in a flexed position for so long.
Learning a pattern doesn’t always happen immediately, its like learning a new habit, it’ll take time before the body learns to do the proper movements naturally and until then, it will be returning to the compensation pattern. The more consistent people are with the exercises, the less tendencies the body has to go back to its wrong patterns. This is why checkups along the way are important. They’re like guidelines. There is no quick fix to being pain free, it takes patience, dedication to your exercises, and understanding what they are trying to break down.
Written by Whitney Dikoume, Certified Athletic Therapist
Struggling with knee, back, hip, neck, foot (or any other kind of) pain? Book in to see Whitney or another one of our qualified Athletic Therapists for a fresh set of eyes on your injury. Learn what is causing you pain and what can be done to aid your recovery. Call 403-252-6222 or email [email protected] for more info.