What Causes Injury?

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I am a chiropractor who specializes in treating soft tissue (muscle) injuries.

I tend to see people only when they are in pain. I commonly see people who have been to too many doctors and specialists trying to figure out what’s causing their pain, and still have no answers.

Doctors are very good at dealing with colds, flus, sicknesses, illnesses, disease processes, cancers, etc. But they are not well equipped to deal with muscle pain. Muscle pain is extremely common and involved in most, if not all, pain processes.

Pain and injury can come from a traumatic event, such as a car accident or from falling. In these cases, muscles get ripped and torn from being whipped around, from bracing yourself and then having those muscles stretched out and pulled. The end result is that muscles will tear on a microscopic level.

Most commonly, pain and injury comes from not what happens in the evenings or weekends, but usually comes from what we are doing on a daily basis, repetitively. These repetitive motions slowly cause a muscle to get tighter and tighter, until it tears on a microscopic level. This is also called cumulative trauma. The trauma slowly accumulates over time until it causes a big trauma

A sprain, strain, muscle pull, throwing out your back, all describe muscle tearing. It doesn’t mean that the muscle is torn 100% all the way through. But it means that a small part of the muscle is torn. Some of the muscle fibers are torn that make up the muscle. Imagine a fraying rope. Part of the rope fibers are torn, while part of the rope remains intact. That pretty much is what happens when a muscle is torn, sprained, strained, pulled, etc. They all describe the same mechanism of injury.

A muscle sprain, strain or pull may not seem that bad to you, but an injured muscle can be more painful than, and take longer to heal than, a bone fracture.

Nobody appreciates how much they use a particular muscle until they can’t use it due to an injury. It is amazing how many movements originate from your low back and core. When you strain your low back, it affects most movements.

Whatever the cause of a muscle injury may be, when part of a muscle tears on a microscopic level, the rest of the muscle reflexively contracts to prevent further tearing. It is a self protective mechanism for the muscle.

During an injury, a muscle will contract so hard that it establishes a neurological pathway between the muscle and the spinal cord. This pathway is called a reflex arc and will perpetuate the muscle spasm and keep it going for months to literally years. This pathway will perpetuate muscle spasm, inflammation, and muscle dysfunction.

The muscles can eventually fatigue and fall out of this pattern of spasm and inflammation. But muscles can stay in this pattern for months to years. I specialize in treating injured muscles and reducing pain. It is amazing the myriad types of pain and injury that muscles can cause.

Muscles are involved in most injuries and in most pain. Most injuries are going to involve some soft tissue damage. Whether it is from slipping or falling, or overuse, it will involve the muscles falling into those patterns of spasm and inflammation.

Most types of arthritis will have a muscular component to them. The arthritis will compromise the integrity and function on a joint. This puts stress onto the surrounding muscles to stabilize the irritated and dysfunctional joint. The muscles will eventually get irritated trying to compensate for the altered motion from the arthritic joint.

That being said, the healthier you keep your muscles, the better off you will feel, the less pain you will have on a regular basis, and the more activity you will be able to do.

Once you injure yourself, the best way to get out of pain and restore normal function of the joints, is to loosen up the muscles and get them out of the patterns of spasm and inflammation they fall into.

Nimmo/Receptor Tonus Technique is the specific chiropractic trigger point technique that I specialize in. There are other, less effective, trigger point and soft tissue techniques out there. If you can’t find a Nimmo practitioner, then look for someone who does some type of soft tissue work.

Once you feel better, get the muscles loosened up and balanced out, then you’ll be primed to strengthen up the muscles.

The stronger and looser you keep your muscles, the more comfortable you will be and the less pain you will be in. It will give you the best chance possible of being able to stay active and feel good as you age. It will give you the best chance possible of being able to age gracefully. Exercising is the best anti-aging process around.

Many disease processes will respond better and affect you less if you keep your muscles healthy. Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, high triglycerides, and many other chronic disease processes respond better, and affect you less, when you are exercising and taking care of your muscles and body.

Not just any exercise system will do though. If you are over age 40, then don’t go for those extreme exercise systems like P90x or crossfit or insanity.

Don’t fall for the exercise systems that promise you can lose 20 lbs in two weeks or get 6 pack abs. If you are over age 50, haven’t exercised in years, and are overweight, chances are that you will not be getting 6 pack abs. Don’t fall for the lies and marketing from diet and exercise gimmicks that don’t work. The only thing that works is consistently exercising and eating right.

Especially as you age, you will only be able to consistently exercise if you do low intensity and low impact exercises. This type of exercise is easy on your body and can be done consistently for years. Low impact exercising is: swimming, walking, hiking, rowing, biking, stair master, light weight lifting.

High impact exercising would be: running, aerobics, kick boxing, step aerobics, boxing, crossfit, P90x, etc.

High impact exercising creates minor injuries that build up over time to eventually cause muscle dysfunction and injury. As we age we don’t recover from those minor injuries as well as we did when we were younger. These minor injuries stick around longer because we aren’t healing from them quickly. That coupled with more wear and tear on our bodies over the years and it is easy to see how minor injuries affect us more and more as we age. That is why it is important to exercise in a way that won’t hurt or injure yourself. Exercise in a way that you can sustain for years to come. Because you only get the benefits from exercising while you are exercising. If you stop for a few months due to injury, then you will stop benefitting from exercise for that period.

Be easy on yourself as you age. If you aren’t 20 years old, then don’t exercise like you did when you were 20. Exercise smarter, not harder. Low intensity and low impact exercising is the smart way to go. It is the Pain Free Way.

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