I get it. I've been there.
Nobody likes to stop living life to deal with a physical limitation.
I mean, who wants to add 20 stretches to their daily routine, carve out time to get on someone’s schedule and drive to their office, or do those dreaded boring exercises PTs seem to love?
You want to be free to hike, run, play, garden, bowl with your league, jam with your band, bike with your buds, walk through the cobblestone streets of Lisbon, swim laps in the local long course pool, sled with your nephews, stand in the kitchen finely chopping veggies for your world-renowned stew, secretly Jazzercise to 80s rock in the privacy of your basement, or pull a full lunge while you air guitar to the theme of Top Gun.
Whatever you like to do, movement means freedom.
Not being able to move freely, due to injury or pain, stiffness or your older sister pinning your arms down, means no fun. You’re trapped, unable to do what you want.
And you may not even want to admit it at first.
It's a big pile of poo sitting on the walkway to your front door. You just don't want to deal with it. You're busy, you've got deadlines and dinner to make. You ignore it, go around it, step over it, maybe it'll rain, you think. But then, it sits out there all melting in the sun, spreading out and getting worse, until you just can't even go around it anymore, and the smell has spread to the driveway and the sidewalk. Now you have a bigger smelly problem on your hands.
Being injured stinks.
It’s frustrating and overwhelming. You can't do what you want to do, you feel older, you doubt and worry, you have to change your routine, and it may even challenge your sense of identity.
I know, I’ve been there myself.
I had a life-threatening blood clot when I was 16, which actually sparked my fascination for the human body and why I spent years and years studying it and getting all the degrees and certifications and stuff.
And I’m an avid competitive distance runner, but not a very durable one.
With all my determined running, I had various injuries and did all the treatment things: rolling, stretching, strengthening, cross training, bands, balls, straps, tapes, seeing PTs, DCs, MTs, DOs, MDs.
I was trying so hard to avoid injury while reaching for my full marathoning potential, including getting the whole PT degree and licensure myself, but it was still not quite enough.
I was still struggling with problems, and the question of where is this coming from?
Years later, once I was a physical therapist, I found that many therapies (including PT ones) don’t work or don’t last because they just don’t go deep enough.
Or they flare up the problem by having you strengthen, for example, when you don't have a strength problem.
I saw this recently with Charlie. She was getting shoulder pain with high school softball and swimming, and she'd seen PTs who gave her all the usual scapular and shoulder strengthening stuff. But she didn't have a strength issue. She had a neuromuscular issue. After several weeks of working on her neck, and having her calm the nerves with stuff to do at home, her shoulder stopped hurting and has full range of motion again. Last week, she said, "yeah, it was kind of weird to not have pain in my shoulder during swim practice."
When therapies don’t get to the root cause of the problem you’re only scratching the surface, treating the symptoms, going around it, puffing perfume on it while letting it spread unknowingly to a bigger pooey problem, rather than doing the hard work of dealing with the original issue.
It's not always as easy to find the root cause of a pain in your body as it is to see a giant brown pile of excrement in a walkway. It's usually not as obvious, especially with my favorite kinds of problems- those that come on over time due to patterns instead of falls or fractures.
One thing I love about my job is knowing where to look.
Imagine if that pile of poo were invisible, and all you had to go off of was the smell. You'd wonder, where is it coming from? Why is this happening? How can I make it go away? How can I keep it from coming back again?
It's the same with an injury. We want to solve it fully, get the pile out of the way, so it doesn't come back to haunt us with its stench.
I'm trained to know where to find the problem, even if it seems invisible.
That’s why I became a nerve-focused PT. To get results for people fully, and long-term, by getting to the root cause and restoring function. Which leads to freedom of movement.
It may take a little work, probably after some reluctance, but it's really not that hard. And the best part is you'll have a clear non-stinky path forward once again.
Have you found that injuries stink up your life? Was it a huge relief when both the stink was gone and the origin of it? Put it in the comments.