Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Avoiding Injury


Working in a physical therapy clinic, you see a lot of injured people.  No surprise there.  But in previous professional settings I witnessed a fair share of pain, tightness, inflammation, and sufficient discomfort to prevent the proper function of people’s limbs.

One of the areas I specialize in is called Functional Movement Screening.  The most important information that comes out of the screening is an injury risk assessment.  Having a previous injury, having a sedentary lifestyle, being obese…all of these are predictors of a high likelihood of future injury.

If having a previous injury makes one more likely to have a future injury, then it seems we need to do a better job at rehabilitation.  If therapy can bring you to a pain-free condition, but we don’t go a step further and return you to optimal muscle balance and muscle/joint function, then we haven’t gone far enough.

Can exercise do that?  Can it correct your muscle balance and improve your muscle/joint function to reduce your risk of future injury, post-therapy?  Yes indeed, it can and does.

I can take you through a screening and get a pretty good idea of your injury risk.  Then I can look at your everyday activities, your recreation or sport, and your exercise plans (or lack of all of the above!) and get a pretty good sense of which activities contribute even more to your injury risk.  Finally, we can work together on a progression of exercises to correct what is likely to be either a muscular mobility or stability problem and move toward injury prevention.

Even if you aren’t sedentary, and being up on your feet and climbing stairs and hauling things around all day is part of your normal routine, you can benefit from a mobility, stability, and strength building program. People wonder, if they are busy with a very active job or active lifestyle, why they may still suffer from a creeping weakness or loss of function over time.

Aging (which is a good thing in and of itself if you enjoy being alive) has this nasty way of causing your muscular strength to wane, your endurance to fade, your posture to become lopsided.  Whatever your activity level.  If you are sedentary the consequences tend to arrive quicker and be more debilitating.  But the fact is your body is amazingly adaptable and sets a “status quo” based on your routine.

So if you want to stay strong, maintain your stamina, remain in good posture and balance, and thus avoid injury, you need to dedicate specific efforts toward those goals.  Your body needs to be pushed harder than normal in order to keep your “status quo” from falling.  Dr. Mark Hyman, author of the books Ultra-Prevention, Ultra-Metabolism, and The Ultra-Mind Solution among others, calls it training like a caveman.  But in order to make sure your body is prepared for training, and to be sure you are not piling resistance on top of poor function, start with a functional movement screen.  When do we get started?

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