If you are having recurring joint pain, there are generally two basic causes: an imbalance of mobility or an imbalance of strength. It's caused by your lifestyle, which could be related to work, exercise, or as simple as sitting too much.
Initially, pain is a signal. It's telling you that some part of your posture is not in optimal alignment. When you get the signal you have two options on how to address it. You can deal with the pain itself (through medication, ultra sound, electrical stimulation, local area medication) or you can find what is causing the pain and correct it. If the first sign of pain is not dealt with immediately, the area where the the pain is located will eventually develop some form of trauma within it. This can take the form of scar tissue, inflammation, or sometimes both. If not corrected, this will effect how the joint moves and can become a dysfunctional movement pattern, setting the body up for more problems. The better option is to locate the cause of the pain and correct it.
The area where you feel the pain is initiated by an imbalance in another location in the body. Our goal is to correct the imbalance so that the pain stops and never comes back. If you only provide relief for the area where the pain is located, your pain will return over time. Sometimes you have to apply both methods if the pain is really bad. You would use some method of temporary pain relief while also working on correcting the imbalance which caused the pain.
A mobility imbalance means you have a very tight muscle somewhere, pulling things out of alignment or inhibiting what should be mobile. Once you locate the tight muscle, you first need to lengthen it by using a myofascial stretching technique (like a foam roller). After this you would apply an active or static stretch to the muscle. To create a perfect balance, you would then strengthen the opposite muscle. By applying these steps, you return the proper balance between the muscles and your movement pattern becomes normal - and your pain ends.
With a strength imbalance, a muscle is weak while its opposite muscle is strong. You would need to locate the weak muscle and strengthen it. It's just this simple to fix. No more recurring pain.
A person's posture will tell you where the imbalances are. Rounded shoulders, protruding neck, arched or humped back, feet turning out - all are signs of a muscle imbalance. By correcting your imbalances and posture, you can relieve yourself of pain or prevent it from starting.
In some of our upcoming posts we will discuss specific ways to correct certain pain issues. Train smart. Doing less is more when you train smart.
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