Does this sounds like a familiar pattern for you: You feel pain…You massage, stretch, and ice the area…You may rest for a week or two…After some online searching, you decide to do some random strength exercise you saw…Months later your pain has not changed.
Or maybe yours is more like this: You feel pain…You self treat for awhile…You finally decide to see a professional who treats the symptoms…The pain goes away…Weeks to months later the pain returns again.
If you have been injured or are currently dealing with an injury, my guess is you can relate to one of those patterns, and perhaps both.
The reason? Spot treating pain never works!
Yes, your tissues in the area are flared up for a reason and need to be calmed down. And yes, those do need to be addressed accordingly. That is where most people stop, though.
Here’s the problem with only treating the pain symptoms: Pain is simply information, telling you something is wrong somewhere. The location of the pain is not telling you the where.
Finding the root cause is where people often fall short. Without uncovering the root cause and fixing that, the pain will never go away for good. It may go away temporarily, but it will always return…and if not the same pain, it will be a different pain with the same root cause.
Figuring out that root cause can take time and work. From fairly early on in life, we develop movement pattern habits and experience injuries in our past, compensations develop, more compensations develop, and then eventually injuries occur. Breaking down the layers of compensations to get to that root cause can take an investment of time and money, but it is so worth it to be able to train and live life like you want to!
Here is a good example: I had a runner come to me with knee pain. Nothing we did in the evaluation for the knee triggered the pain. What did trigger pain, though, was assessment of the spine. I could have treated the knee, but the knee would never have improved. It was only because the back was addressed that his knee pain resolved.
If you are stuck in a constant injury cycle, I encourage you to investigate why. Only by figuring out that root cause and fixing that can you break out of your injury cycle. This does not necessarily mean more time in physical therapy. It simply means working with someone who understands how the body moves, can see the compensations, and knows how to help you fix those.
Written by Brianne Showman. Brianne is a physical therapist and running coach with Get Your Fix Physical Therapy And Performance. Her focus is on helping athletes resolve injuries in less time by getting to the root of the problem, improving movement patterns, and incorporating proper training to help the body to move more efficiently, more powerfully, and in less injury-prone ways.