I am just like you. I have experienced pain and injuries in the past which restricted me from working out. When I played competitive softball in Japan while growing up, I had multiple injuries from fracture to muscle tear in both LE and UE. So, this is what I used to do.
I experience pain in my body –> wait and see if the pain goes away in a couple of weeks –> if the pain does not go away, I take over the counter pain medication, such as Tylenol or Advil, etc. –> if pain persists with movement or disrupts my activity or sleep –> I seek a medical consultation. There are many professionals that can help me with “pain” from the Western Medicine practitioners to the Eastern Medicine practitioners. Sound familiar? Is this what you do too?
Being a physical therapist who has been seeing people with orthopaedic injuries for the past 12 years, I realize that our profession has had a “near-sighted” approach to our treatment patterns. Moreover, this “near-sighted” approach blinded us how we can serve our communities to keep moving better.
As much as this “near-sighted” approach is important, a “far-sighted” approach is much needed in our profession for the communities. While my experience increased as a PT, many of my patients/clients have revealed what I was missing: the Critical Point.
The Critical Point is, “Is each joint stacked up evenly as the body is designed to be?” How many of us has never experienced injuries, pain or “off”ness (“something is off” in my body”)? I must say it is small number of the population can say “never had anything.”
The human body, especially in the study of human movement (Kinesiology), takes the path of least resistance. Our scientists call it “efficient” movement. “Efficient movement” does not necessarily mean “optimal movement” for the body. The body adapts well to the environment to which we are exposed. The history of injuries is a very important piece to the puzzle of muscle imbalance.
You place a key stone like a roman arch on the top to complete the arch. The key stone is your pelvis. The weight loads evenly from the top of the arch. Imagine you are playing with wooden blocks (like you did when you are a kid?!?!). You create two columns and create an arch to connect the two.
Joint congruency is the best health you can provide for your joint. Muscle imbalance will be restored more efficiently if our joints are moving the way they are designed to and the joint congruency is restored. Preservation of our joint starts when we are young, but it is not too late to restore the joint congruency when you are older. Usually, in this case, the pain decreases with activity.
I have seen many patients with osteoarthritis of hip, knee and ankle joints. When I hear uneven wear and tear of the cartilage, I must wonder why and how the uneven wear and tear happened in the joints. Many of our patients come to see us at Nexus with multiple diagnoses. Based on our experiences working with our patients, many injuries / pain that our patients have had in the past is oftentimes related to the pain that they are currently experiencing, and when the joint alignment is restored, the way we move changes closer to the optimal movement. The best clinician has the eyes that can “zoom-in” and “zoom-out” based on our patients’ needs.
This is the “far-sighted” treatment approach to preserve our joints as long as we can and age well.