Health

Pains that Sneak Up on Us

Why does something I've done hundreds/thousands of times without any issue all of a sudden start hurting?

I get asked this question a lot, and I understand why.  We experience pain and want an answer as to why, because if we know why, we can do something to fix it; right?  Sometimes it's easy, ie. you stub your toe on that brick that is slightly higher than the rest, and break your toe...simple.  But what about those times when there is no simple reason why you are now in pain, and the longer it goes on the harder we search for answers.

The strain that accumulates in our body has 2 main avenues of becoming problematic;

  1. Increasing the amount of strain we place on our bodies without allowing it time to accommodate.

  2. Not taking care of our bodies when we are placing more strain on them.

Now, it is a multi-factorial issue and does not just include the actual strain on our tissues; stress and anxiety, lack of sleep, and poor diet/nutrition are a few things that can also play a role, but lets look at those 2 causes.

  1. Our bodies are awesome and capable of so much; just look around at what our fellow human beings are able to accomplish.  However, you have to give your body time to adapt and accommodate to new things or risk injury.  If your idea of running is to catch a bus, you need to start small and slowly increase the amount you run before attempting a marathon.

    This is a simple example, but try to put what you do into that context; relative to what your body normally deals with, what are you asking of it?  Does it seem like a big jump it what it has been used to?  Its the relative increases that I'm talking about here, it may not seem like much, but if you keep piling on additional strains without giving your body the chance to increase its tolerance, you will get closer and closer to your pain threshold.

  2. The other side of the issue is when something you have done seemingly forever, all of a sudden is painful.  This fits most times when people "throw their back out" (a term that generally annoys me, because their back didn't actually go anywhere, or change in structure, but that's another blog post).

    Your daily routine hasn't changed for years, but all of a sudden what you normally do hurts, it is most likely due to the fact that you haven't taken care of those muscles and joints properly.  Muscles get tight with use, even healthy ones, and if they stay tight enough for long enough, they can prevent joints from functioning properly, which can lead to increased sensitivity and pain.

If you are experiencing pain, then it is best to see a physiotherapist to help you, but if you haven't had pain yet, then there are some simple things you can do to help prevent pain from showing up.

  • Move; if you adopt 1-2 postures all day, then you need to start adding 'movement breaks'; 1-2 minutes every 20-30 minutes to perform a few simple stretches or exercises.

  • Take 10 minutes a day to perform muscle releases on tight/knotted muscles that can cause pain (if unsure where to start, come see us and we can help).

  • Ensure you get enough sleep; this can seem overly simple, but a good sleep can positively affect numerous areas of our lives.

  • Improve your work-life balance; ensure that you take time for fun/enjoyment, again this seems overly simple, but it's important for stress/anxiety management to have fun.

  • Get active; physical activity/exercise is by far the best medicine known to humankind; study after study have proven that this is the best investment we can make in our bodies.

Remember, our bodies are amazing and have almost limitless potential, but they won't get there overnight, and as even the finest sports car needs maintenance, so do we.