Why Do things hurt?
You’ve been feeling great! So good that you decided to go on long hike with some friends over the weekend. Halfway through the hike, you start feeling that dull aching pain slowly creep up into your lower back and hip. “My sciatica is acting up!” At that point you know you over did it and you will pay for it the next couple of days.
It is the end of the month and you have deadlines to meet at the office. You must put in extra hours and make sure everything is done on time. You’re not even getting paid overtime! You just need to get it done. Nobody else is contributing so it’s all on you because you’re the dependable one. Little by little you start to feel your neck get tense. Your shoulders and upper back start to feel heavy. Sometimes you may even feel slight burning sensations. Before you know, tension headaches are next. Where is the Advil? Take a couple, and you keep working.
One more example. This time you are at a gym. It’s been a while, but you’re going to give it all you got. You are doing some overhead presses when suddenly you feel this sharp and warm sensation in your shoulder. At this point, you know you did something wrong. You pushed it beyond your limits and now you have a shoulder injury. Maybe you exceeded your own range of motion doing the WOD of the day at your local CrossFit gym and your hip feels tight.
Do any of these scenarios sound familiar to you?
These are the stories I hear daily. These are examples of what happens when we push our bodies beyond what they are capable of doing. It is when we exceed the capacity of what our tissues and joints can bear that things start to hurt.
That tightness and tension that you feel, is your nervous system telling you to stop. Take a break. Move. That pain that you’re feeling, is your nervous system telling you that you have reached capacity of tissue tolerance and strength and you need to stop now, or it will get worse.
Have you ever “thrown your back out?” Yup, that’s another way your body tells you that you reached capacity and it forces you to stop.
Why do injuries and pain occur? The formula for injury is simple: LOAD > CAPACITY = INJURY or PAIN.
Whenever we exceed the capacity our joints and tissues can bear, that is when things hurt.
Our bodies are very intelligent. Things do not occur in our bodies just for the sake of it. If you’re neck and shoulders are always tight, there is a reason that is happening. If you have hip or sciatic issues, there is a reason for that too.
That reason usually is pushing beyond the limitations of what your tissues and joints can do. Think of what happens when you exercise and lift weights. You will eventually reach a point when your muscles will fatigue, and you cannot do another repetition. What happens the next day? You’re sore, and your muscles are tight. Why? That is your body’s way of telling you that you over did it.
How do we remedy this? How do I end that tight neck and shoulders? How do I avoid getting sciatic pain after I go for a hike? How do I avoid or mitigate rolling my ankle when I’m playing my sport? How do I avoid throwing my back out?
It’s quite simple really. Build more strength and resiliency in your joints and in your musculature. Learn what your limitations are and start to build upon them. Sometimes things hurt because we lack mobility in our joints. Therefore, our body forces us to compensate. Ever had a tight neck while driving? Not easy looking out for those blind spots huh? You need to turn your whole body to accomplish that task! Keep doing that over time and before you know it, your back starts to ache.
Step one, learn what your limitations are. Step two, build on those limitations and make yourself stronger and Increase ranges of motion if you need to.
I was listening to a running coach awhile back. He was saying that a lot of people can’t run for long periods of time because they simply don’t have the strength in their legs to maintain the load that is being imparted while running. In these cases, he will begin his students with strength and conditioning exercises for the legs. That approach makes absolute sense.
Have you ever done a full assessment with me? Maybe you should if your pain and tension is chronic and not going away. I will assess your full ranges of motion. I want to see what your joints can and cannot do. I want to see what you can do actively and passively. Once we determine what your strength and limitations are, then I can create a program that will improve your mobility and the capacity that your tissues can maintain.
No matter what your conditions are, or what structural problems you may have in your joints, there is always something that can be done to improve.
If you feel it’s time to make some changes and end your chronic pain, let me know. If you’re not near me, I can refer you to a good mobility coach in your area.
Let’s start making changes. Let’s start making some long-lasting improvements. Let’s improve the quality of our lives and live the lifestyle we desire.