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What is the Injury Cycle?

As a whole, I think our medical system is pretty bad at giving us incentive for doing things proactively. Sure we have our annual physical, we get our teeth cleaned every 6 months, and maybe your health insurance even gives you a small sum toward the cost of a gym membership. Yet for the most part so much of healthcare focuses on pain and illness, appointment wait lists are long, and we all live busy lives - so a lot of us feel bad for showing up complaining about things that seem minor! Raise your hand if you’re guilty of waiting to seek help until you’re in so much pain you can’t walk, or so sick you can’t get out of bed 🙋🏼‍♀️! Before I get ahead of myself, let’s break down the injury cycle and why you don’t need to wait until you’re all the way at step 3 to seek help.

1. Mechanics - this is how we move. As humans, no one is perfect, so we all have some movement patterns that aren’t ideal. Sometimes this is due to an old injury, other times it’s just how we developed. Maybe this is tight hamstrings, or really flat feet, or having really flexible shoulders. These are things that can make us naturally better at certain activities - like people who are flexible are great at yoga - or can predispose us to different injuries. We may not notice that anything is off until we try a new activity or sport, and maybe start to notice some more tightness, soreness, or not feeling as strong as we thought we would.

Pretty rare anyone comes in to see us at this stage! But you should ;)

2. Microtrauma - over time we keep doing our regular activities, work, and exercise with the same mechanics we talked about above. This can cause repeated trauma to a certain body part(s) - not necessarily enough to make you stop what you’re doing, but maybe you take an extra rest day or use a heating pad or take some Advil, and then things generally feel better.

Sometimes people start to see us at this point :)

3. Injury - this is when we’ve kept pushing through the microtraumas - kept increasing our running mileage despite knee soreness, kept bench pressing heavier even though our shoulders felt pinchy. Of course we have cases of trauma/accidents that result in fractures or muscle tears. This is when the pain is keeping you up at night, impacting exercise or work, and making once normal tasks painful or extra difficult.

This is when most people seek help and end up in our office!

When we evaluate people here at Core, we talk to them a lot about this cycle, and how it is important to keep going with your rehab once the pain has been eliminated. Why? Because at that point, we have only taken away 1 piece of the injury cycle, the other 2 don’t disappear along with it! It takes additional time and care to address those mechanics, to avoid future repeated microtrauma, and therefore avoid becoming injured again!

So, while we are happy to see people come into our office for help once they’ve hit “Step 3”, why not come in at steps 1 or 2? I’ll give you some ideas of why this is better:

  1. Your rehab is faster! When we aren’t trying to “put out the fire” of being in significant pain, we are more quickly able to get to the fun stuff of truly going after the root cause of people’s complaints and building their most resilient body.

  2. By not waiting, you decrease your chances of pain or weakness becoming a chronic issue. So similar to above, your rehab should be faster and more efficient.

  3. Your rehab (or prehab) is probably more fun! We can get straight to the exercises that are more challenging but also transferable to the activities you care about.

  4. Building off of everything else - if you’re spending the time now to get your body in its best working order, this decreases your chance of having to spend time away from sports, the gym, work, whatever may be important to you!

In conclusion - don’t wait! Do it sooner, do it better :)


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