Reoccurring Injuries and the Importance of Functional Rehabilitation.
Let’s think about a couple of different scenarios – walking home from work and go over on your ankle, enjoying some weekend sport and tweaking a hamstring or just suffering from innocuous back pain after sitting for too long. You follow recommended advice of resting, stretching and ease back in to activity but then hey presto it happens again.
Why, you might ask, does it reoccur? Our bodies are amazing at adapting (altered motor control) to the tasks we ask of them. This amazing ability can be a good and bad force dependent on the length of time that the adaption occurs for. The body learns patterns of behaviour and so when we hurt ourselves the body automatically adapts the way we function in avoidance of pain.
For example, if you have twisted your ankle before, you will know that to avoid the pain of putting pressure on the injured ankle you will primarily weight bare on the ‘good’ leg. This is an alteration to your normal walking pattern and the body will learn to adapt to this new style of walking to the point where you will not be thinking about it.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t take a painful experience for your body to adapt. In my previous blog (Neck and Upper Back Stiffness - Living in the 21st Century) we highlighted some of the effects of increased occupational stress from technology. This repetitive strain, often for long periods of the day, causes the body to adapt by toughening the tissues surrounding the area of stress to protect it thereby affecting function.
These protective measures are a necessity but once the pain from the injury has disappeared the body does not press the reset button and revert to the original patterns. The altered pattern may only be minor as the body is more than capable of compensating, but when fully stressed, the altered function causes a reoccurrence of the problem.
It is easy to feel that if you’re not sporty you’re not putting your body under the sort of stress that could lead to an injury such as this, but that is why we’ve listed those scenarios at the beginning. They could happen to anyone.
Here at Clemow Therapies we often see patients presenting with a history of reoccurring injuries and lower back issues. We offer longer appointment times as an integral part of our assessment process to evaluate your functional movement checking for altered patterns, to complete your rehabilitation, as this is often overlooked. These patients have often been compliant in any previous rehabilitation and the injured tissue is repaired but their function has not been corrected.
To round up, we like to use the analogy of the tracking on a car. If the tracking is ‘out’, then often the tyres wear unevenly and you may get steering wheel vibration.
In this example the tracking is the function, the tyres are the injured tissues and the steering column is the surrounding joint/spine. If you only change the tyres because they are worn, then you will be going through tyres (injuries) more often. Over time the vibration could end up affecting the steering column (joints/spine) which becomes a much more serious problem. In this example both could have been solved by fixing the tracking (function) to get the best wear from the tyres (reduced chance of injury reoccurrence) and to protect the steering column (joints/spine) which is where we can help.
Interested in what we might be able to do for you? Book an appointment now and find out.