Could Body Awareness be the answer to Injury Prevention?
by Adeleine Blackman
My job as a Sports Therapist isn’t just to assess and treat patients but also to educate them to help themselves. Finding the root cause of a problem happens by assessing the possible mechanical issues, for instance identifying whether a lower back pain was caused by a direct trauma, a musculoskeletal dysfunction, an underlying clinical pathology or an overuse issue?
In my 8 years of free lancing in gyms and a GP practice with patients of different ages and lifestyles, I have found the latter to be the most common cause for the majority of injuries I have treated.
It is my belief that this overuse issue could sometimes be happening without us even realising it or really and truly acknowledging it. This cause or causes could be happening in your working life, sleeping habits, exercise routine or lack of. For example, when exercising or running do you listen to music?
It’s a yes for me, it passes the time and it can be a great motivational tool to have when that negative voice in your head is telling you to go home to eat a pizza and drink a glass of wine. However whilst tuning into your music, are you then tuning out of your body? It’s possible that you’re missing signals that your body maybe sending to you whilst running e.g. a slight twinge of pain along your Achilles tendon, muscles in your lower back tightening, a dull ache spreading through your left hamstrings or perhaps cramping in your neck as you battle the cold or fatigue and hunch your shoulders up into your earlobes. Are you listening? Or is it easier to ignore the messages and try to “run it off” hoping it will go away?
No pain no gain right?
Well, medical research has proven that: Pain serves as the body’s warning system and alerts you to an injury. Pain that stems from injury to body tissue is known as nociceptive pain. Pain from such injury is triggered by damage to little structures called nociceptors that are part of the nerve endings in the injured area.
Examples include burns, muscular strains/tears, broken bones and inflammation etc. The nociceptors in the nerve endings found in the skin of the affected area, are stimulated by the injury. They send a pain signal that starts at the point of the injury and travels up the nerve to the spinal cord. Then the pain signal travels up another nerve in the spinal cord to va
rious parts of the brain. Many patients that I have treated don’t use the word “pain” as it is in fact an umbrella term for all types of discomfort e.g. tension, stiffness, ache or an uncomfortable sensation.
The word pain can sound frightening or even too dramatic but really it’s a message however weak or strong from your body to your mind. Once you start listening to it,
pain can also help in the healing.Therefore I feel it is crucial to investigate the external or internal causes and create awareness as to how and why physical problems happen. With this knowledgeable power modification or change is possible to achieve recovery and future prevention.
There are answers to our body’s messages of complaints whether it’s getting that desk/chair analysis at work, assessing the quality and appropriateness of your trainers or how much stuff you carry in a shoulder bag to work day after day year after year. Stretching is free and as animals we still need to do it carefully and appropriately, if you have a cat or a dog you may have noticed that they do it on a daily basis. They’re responding to a signal of stiffness or tension from their brain.
At Vibe Fitness Bath you will find many people being taught by fitness professionals how to condition their bodies against the damage of repetitive strains, whatever their age, level of fitness or lifestyle, some with degenerating clinical pathologies and some that like most of us unfortunately can’t just pick up any old pair of trainers and run 10 miles without consequence. You will also find hands on manual therapists such as me available to assess, treat, massage and rehabilitate. I can give you advice on making even the smallest adjustments to your posture and alignment that then puts less stress on your body during a repetitive activity. What’s your body telling you? Mine is telling me that it’s time to move away from the P.C. to ease my neck and shoulder tension. To me body awareness is self-empowerment.
Adeleine Blackman BSc. (hons) MSST