Discomfort and pain are your body's ways of telling you that something is not moving correctly. Whether or not you remain in pain is, most times, up to you. It might sound funny, but pain is a good thing...at least when it can forewarn you of potential damage. Practice becoming a great detective when dealing with aches and pains and see how your posture, your walking and your movement can be the cause and how small adjustments can be the cure. It could save you lots of time at the physical therapist.
There are a couple of ways to deal with pain. One is the widely accepted (but not recommended by us) use of pain-killers to mask the pain. Painkillers help to get rid of the symptom, but almost never address the reason for the pain.
An alternative way to deal with pain is to listen carefully to your body and try to decipher what you could be doing that is causing the pain to occur. It is always best to make sure you're actually looking beyond the symptom for the true source of the problem. Whenever you feel any discomfort or pain, you should ask yourself "Why am I feeling this?" and begin the process of finding how to get to the bottom of the problem so you can change the cause and prevent the pain from developing into a full-on injury.
Pain can be caused by many different reasons, but some of the main ones are:
- ?Lack of movement -- an area that is stiff and tight and does not move enough can cause pain. Most people don't rotate their hips enough and their spine does not twist as it should. Gentle movement and increasing your range of motion carefully is important.
- ?Improper movement -- where you are not moving correctly. This would include creating too much impact from heel striking, reaching too far forward with your stride, pushing off with your feet at the end of your stride, or having too great a range of motion than your body can handle.
- Overuse -- where any are of your body is doing more work than it can or should. Overuse can come from pushing your body when it does not have the conditioning it needs. It can also come from muscles trying to compensate for poor posture, or legs trying to do the work that the pelvis should be doing. Overuse is not just too much repetitive movement. If well conditioned and done correctly, a person can walk a long distance without pain or injury.
Lack of movement and improper movement are often the cause of overuse in another part of your body. If your hips are too stiff, then your legs have to overwork. If your posture is not aligned, then your muscles have to work to keep you standing, if you land on the back of your heel, then your knee takes the brunt of the impact.
Here are some helpful questions to ask yourself:
- Is the pain coming from a muscle or a joint?
- Is the pain coming from a ligament or tendon?
- Is it only happening upon impact with the ground?
- Is it only on one side of my body?
- Is it general pain or is it specifically located?
- Does it only happen at the first of my workout or does it take awhile to come on?
- Does it go away with movement? Which movement helps it go away?
- Are there any things I notice in my movement that are asymmetrical (left side/right side)? Which side seems (or feels) to be moving more correctly?