True or false: once our body is injured, it will never be the same again.
FALSE, our body is an organic being that can naturally heal and repair itself. It is not normal to live in constant pain regardless of age or injury. While it is normal for our bodies to ache every now and then, it shouldn’t be debilitating to the point that it affects our daily life.
Let’s put this to the test. Think of the last time you accidentally cut yourself. Did you have to put a bandage over the wound for the rest or your life? For most of us, the wound would naturally heal over time, given the proper rest and protection. The same could be said about our body’s natural ability to heal muscle stress and strains.
So, why does it seem like certain muscle injuries never fully recover?
Here are THREE questions to ask yourself when it comes to a nagging muscle pain.
1. What am I consistently doing that triggers the pain?
Instead of focusing on movements that hurt, reflect on what happens in your day that leads to the pain worsening. For example, someone with lower back pain might feel better after a morning walk but worse after sitting down the whole day. Or, someone with shoulder pain might feel worse after working on the computer for several hours but feels better when they take breaks in between. This helps us consider how our lifestyles may play into our experience of pain.
2. How is my activity level throughout the day?
With the increasing number of smart watches like FitBits and (if you’re in the more ‘atas’ crowd) Apple Watches, there is also an increasing interest in counting daily steps. It is clear that we all know how moving more is good for us.
But a more important question to ask is: how much is too much? Well, counting our daily steps is a great way to start tracking our baseline activity. Through a simple Google search, the recommended daily steps are 10,000 steps. However, hitting this arbitrary number is not the goal. It is about increasing or decreasing our activity level according to what our body can handle at the time.
If we’re only hitting 2,000 steps on a normal day, we would want to try to increase that amount slowly (1,000 steps every 2 weeks) until we find a comfortable and sustainable level we can stick to. In an opposite scenario, let’s say we already get 12,000 steps a day. Would that be a clear indicator that we are very healthy? While it could, it is also important to note that it doesn’t matter how much activity you do if your body is unable to recover from that you will still feel aches and pains throughout the day. So in this case, a better solution would be to lessen your activity and rest more.
This leads us to the next question.
3. How many hours of sleep am I getting a night?
Getting enough sleep is proven to not just improve recovery, but also improve pain tolerance. That means that whenever we experience worsening pain, it could be due to our bodies’ increased sensitivity to pain because of our lack of sleep! This is a common reason why a bad night of sleep is often accompanied by worsened symptoms of neck or back pain despite doing everything else right.
If you find yourself following all the self-management recommendations but are still unable to get relief, you might need a little more external assistance!
So, how can PHYSIOTHERAPY help?
- Manual Therapy
Manual therapy consists of massage techniques like trigger point release, myofascial release, and deep tissue massage to target specific muscles that are causing restriction and pain in the body. It does this by relaxing muscle tension while improving its blood flow. This is a good way to get the body to rest and recover while improving your movement quality.
- Dry Needling
Dry needling carries a similar concept to manual therapy, except that it penetrates much deeper into the muscle to release tight and stubborn muscle knots. It also promotes tissue healing and blood flow into the area.
- Corrective exercises and stretches
This is by far the most important aspect of rehabilitation, but sadly the most dismissed. This is because although massage and dry needling feels great, it is the corrective exercises that help maintain the improvements achieved from massage and dry needling. Without it, the relief will be temporary. The right exercises and stretches help strengthen the body to be able to tolerate and handle more stress.
Solely focusing on being pain-free will not keep us pain-free for very long.
If we want to live a pain-free life we need to look beyond pain and think more about our health and fitness! This is the ability to do what we want to do without any limitations from our body. It could be to play a sport, join a dance class, or even to just play with your kids or grandchildren without any limitations. These ultimately are the things that give value and meaning to our lives.
Once the pain is gone, the tendency is to go back to our ‘normal’ lives. But in most cases, it is our ‘normal’ lives that caused the pain to begin with! The goal is to live a more active lifestyle and make that our ‘normal’ life.
“The body will become better at whatever you do, or don’t do. If you don’t move, your body will make you better at not moving. If you move, your body will allow more movement.” – Ido Portal
Interested to know more? Book in a session with our Physiotherapist in PJ or KL and find out how we can better help you! WhatsApp us or drop us a call at 011-6262 6038 (PJ) or 010-552 6038 (KL).