Your nagging injury and pain will not go away. It has been months, perhaps years, and you have tried everything – physical therapy, chiropractor, ice, heat, stretching, strengthening, rest, injections, and maybe even surgery. Nothing has helped. You still are not able to train…or live your life for that matter. You are frustrated to say the least!
So, the question is ‘why’. Why is the pain still there when you have done everything your friends, internet searches, and specialists have told you to do? You have been fully compliant with everything and yet the pain remains. It doesn’t make sense, right?
Let me shed some light on the situation…
In some cases, if it is simply a matter of overtraining and your body needing a break, taking several days off to rest and recover can be very helpful. Most times, though, that is not the case.
Most injuries are due to mechanics, meaning how your body is moving. This means you can rest all you want, but unless you correct how your body is moving, the pain will come back eventually when you return to training.
Modalities (Ice, heat, electrical stimulation, ultrasound, etc.)
These ultimately do not do anything for you. They give you some temporarily relief at best due to the work they do on the nerve receptors and tissues, but once that wears off, the body goes right back to where it was. They are essentially the ‘feel good’ part of rehab, that’s it!
Specifically with ice, it is not the problem solver we all thought it was…and not the problem solver many still think it is. Ice actually delays the healing process. The body requires swelling and inflammation in the area of injury so the brain knows to send the healing properties there. Without signals of swelling and inflammation, which you shut down temporarily when you apply ice, the healing does not happen as fast. By allowing the swelling and inflammation to be present, you are actually speeding up the heeling process.
The same rules apply with anti-inflammatory medications.
Spot Treat Symptoms
This is what happens most often when you do a search online for exercises…and even when you go to a physical therapist or chiropractor.
Where we experience pain is not normally what is causing the pain. The pain you are experiencing is simply a symptom of something going on somewhere in the body. You can treat the symptoms by stretching, rolling, and strengthening the specific area all you want, but unless you address the actual cause of the issue, the pain will not go away.
Unfortunately, I see spot treatment happening all too often even when someone sees a clinician. The clinician sees pain in an area and treats the area without looking at the full body and movement patterns to figure out why it is happening in the first place.
To fully resolve your pain (and keep it away), you need to figure out the root cause of the pain and address that. Until you do that, the pain will continue to come back.
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.