Why Do I Keep Hurting Myself?
One of the issues that Muscle and Movement Therapy occasionally sees in the office is an interesting one. An active patient seems to have a chronic problem with getting hurt or hurting themselves in the very same place – be it a lower back issue, a knee, an elbow or other part of the body.
Dr. Jeff says that there’s a reason why this happens, and it may not be what you think.
“It really comes down to an issue of poor mechanics,” he said. “Whatever it is that you’re doing, it’s not efficiently and correctly using that part of your body.” It’s not necessarily an issue of overuse either, at least in the way we typically think about it.
“Look at someone like a mechanic or a plumber, someone who does the same repetitive motion over and over that requires a lot of strength,” he said. “With the proper mechanics, he’s able to do this movement day in and day out because he’s using his body correctly and efficiently. More importantly, over time, he develops a ton of strength while doing it.”
Dr. Jeff said that what typically happens is that someone will seek treatment for an injury, and typically during this time, they also stop whatever it is that is causing the pain or problem. Once the issue appears to go away, they return 100 percent to that activity, which eventually causes it to reoccur.
“So let’s say it’s deadlifting that is causing the problem,” he said as an example. “Because you’re not correctly using your body to lift that weight, it irritates something and causes pain.
When you stop the activity and seek treatment, of course it’s going to feel better.”
In addition to working with patients to improve mechanics, MMT also recommends a different approach to returning to that activity: moderation and building up over time.
“If deadlifting is in your workout plan, don’t try and return to it with the same number of reps and weight,” he said. “Because this is what will happen: You’ll maybe get your reps in the first day. The next day, you’ll find that you can maybe do half of them because it’s not feeling so good. The next time you try them, because you’re starting to go right back to where you were, you maybe will do less than half, and probably not very well.”
Instead of the expected 30 reps of deadlifts for the week – or whatever your particular activity may be – you maybe will get in half or less of that. And once you are reinjured, that number will drop even more, often down to zero.
Instead, he recommends starting with a smaller number of reps (or even less weight) and doing them efficiently each time, using improved body mechanics to avoid injury and build strength correctly.
“Instead of doing 10 reps, for example, do five and do them well,” he said. “Over time, you’ll actually get more reps in and you will be building a base so that you can effectively and safely increase what you can do.”
He added that he can’t take credit for this approach and it’s one used in other parts of the world by athletes and their trainers.
“It’s a completely different mindset,” he said. “We have a tendency here to do just the opposite, and that can contribute to re-injury.”
If this sounds like a situation you’re experiencing now, give us a call. We can not only help you feel better, but we can take a look at the activity that appears to be the root of the issue and see how improved body mechanics can help.