Experiencing athletic injuries… Having muscle pulls… What gives?
One of the biggest frustrations of athletes is when an injury occurs. Often, we get a pull, a stitch, a hip pointer, a calf pain, our feet hurt and we try to stay in the game and work right through it. I saw many people sidelined when I played softball years ago. You know the ones I mean, they stretch for 10 – 15 minutes before the game to avoid injuries which happen anyway.
We often go about our rituals trying to avoid injury, yet, we rarely understand why they occur and worse, they often happen when we feel good during that days activity or athletic practice. Then, something just goes leaving us in pain.
I have had it happen to me too, with my first quadracep injury occuring while retrieving a ball my young son threw wildly and I just went to pick it up. The problem is, there is a reason the injury occurred and that reason existed just prior to you hurting yourself, but unfortunately, you never saw it coming.
The people who are most likely to hurt themselves are built asymmetrically. This means one side of their body works differently than the other. The effect of this is torsion and pain throughout the body. Since these are inherited traits, and have been there since we walked, we never realized it because our normal is what we are used to, not what is normal. For the sake of this article, normal is symmetrical, abnormal is asymmetrical.
Asymmetry strains joints, causes pain, and affects the core muscles in your mid section. As a result, it affects the way you walk, the way you run and the way you move. The myofascia, which covers all the muscles and organs in our body actually according to T Myers of Anatomy Trains fame, controls movement.
Taking this idea one step further, if we are moving about asymmetrically, our myofascia adapts to this and will eventually further reduce the effectiveness of our core muscles, making training ineffective, making our muscles tight and assuring us of years of misery. The problem is, the harder we push against it, the more injuries we have to our back, to our muscles and the more inflexible we become.
Making it simple, we have 5 motion zones, the two hips, the two shoulders and our mid section the core (3). This may be a new concept to many people but explains the problem simply. All the motion is powered by the stability of (3, your core). If we have poor core function, or if it becomes distorted, as we see in people who are built asymmetrically, the rib cage also distorts, causing neck problems, the tight core also restricts shoulder motion causing shoulder pain and neck problems and even hand numbness. If you run, it will cause you to over and under stride which is what kills most runners with injuries.
Breaking this down further,
if you look at the diagram to the left, it illustrates this complex simply. If the myofascia in the core distorts, it will further create problems for you, with more injuries, poor flexibility and chronic pain. To overcome this, we have to cheat mother nature (which also happens to be the title of my new book on amazon.com).
To change the way the body works, we cannot change the way you are built. Your structure is largely inherited (unless there was a fracture that altered that structure).
There are three things you will need to do to reliably affect this and significantly improve the way you feel and function, and reducing or eliminating potential injuries.
1. You must wear sandals with good arches and wear some type of foot orthosis in your shoes. This basically cheats mother nature by making you walk differently. It improves symmetry.
2. You must have some type of body work done that specifically addressed the myofascia. This can include active release techniques, myofascial release (including rolfing), or Graston technique (instrument assisted soft tissue treatment)
3. Gait retraining.
The great news is, you can video yourself on a treadmill and see what is bad and what needs improvement and when you have implemented some or all of these changes, you will see a difference on the video and most importantly, feel the difference.
Your back and your legs will thank you.
Let me know what you think. To understand these concepts more fully, read the book, Cheating Mother Nature, now available on Amazon.com