Have you ever noticed that an old injury still nags at you from time to time? Even though your injury has been “healed” for some time, you still have some pain or stiffness, or lack full range of motion that you once had. Years ago I was walking down some stairs and my foot slipped from under me and BAM! I landed on my hip pretty hard, bouncing down the last few steps. I had a pretty ugly bruise that lasted for a month. Since that injury, my hip has never felt the same. Yes, four years later, I could still walk, run, and eventually squat more than my body weight, but I often had to get bodywork done to it, stretch it, and even then, I often had a hard time sleeping on it, or it felt achy during the day, but I just dealt with the pain and discomfort. So why was I still feeling pain from an old injury? How do I break the pain cycle? I still have a slight fear and am very caution when I go up or down stairs to this day. The fear of re-injuring my hip is always in the back of my mind.
Unfortunately, when an injury occurs, the muscles remember a bad or harmful memory. The muscles will contract automatically anytime your body comes close to doing the same action that you had done when the injury occurred. This reaction is often referred to as muscle guarding. When you are injured, your muscles react differently; they want to tighten up to protect themselves so that they won’t get injured again. Sometimes other muscles have to take over the injured muscles work, as the injured muscle will not stretch out. This compensation becomes a habit and a default position is developed. You may notice that your movement is not as fluid as it used to be, your range of motion may be limited, or even your posture may be off because your body is finding ways to keep you moving without causing any more pain or further injury.
It took me about five years to realize and grasp this concept. Then, in September 2015, my pain level and lack of motion became so high that the functionality of my hip was severely limited. I decided to readdress my old hip injury with chiropractic treatment and massage therapy. I also gave myself two full weeks of complete rest. After that I slowly started to do some movement therapy and very gradually started to work out again, using my hip with low intensity work outs. Ten months later, I was back to feeling as good as I had six years before, pre-injury. I am still not back up to squatting more than my bodyweight, but I am getting there, and I no longer have any pain, no achiness, and can sleep through the night. I have worked hard on retraining the muscle memory of my hips and hence, been able to break my pain cycle that I had been living with for over five years.
Let’s start your road to recovery and living a pain free life.