Lately, I have been seeing a lot of people with persistent chronic pain which has generally resulted from past injury or a seemingly innocuous event. The stories vary (thank goodness, or my job would be an uber boring one, with likeness to the movie " Groundhog Day"), but the common thread is that this pain has been treated beforehand, without much success. Before I go any further, let me clarify that this post is NOT in any way going to be about how think I am "better than everyone else who hasn't successfully helped you live pain free," but rather about 1) giving you a better understanding as to why therapy hasn't always been very successful for you, and 2) presenting better alternatives to deal with your pain once and for all! So, let's get started!
The REAL issue..
…Doesn't always start in the area where the pain is, but rather originates in the motor contol centre in the cerebellum. That's right! Another way of explaining this would be to describe that in most of these cases, the muscle compensations have occurred in your body because something (either a subluxation, a trauma, a scar, a leg length discrepancy, etc..) happened at some point in your life and this has caused certain muscles to become inhibited. "Inhibited" is another way of saying that these muscles have gone "out to lunch" for a while. Your body loves you and wants you to keep going and doing whatever is is that you do, even if it means that your are going to have to move in some some dysfunctional patterns. These dysfunctional patterns cause certain muscles to overwork and get very tired and stressed. Think about how frustrated you get when circumstances dictate that you now have to do YOUR job, and someone else's…for the same wage! Also, there is always the issue where your brain learns by repetition, and will continue to operate in a dysfunctional pattern if it is not otherwise corrected!
Where most therapies fail
Most therapeutic models follow a standard of releasing tight muscles in order to free the body. However, in some cases, a muscle that feels tight may be weak or may be compensating for another. So you can see how inhibiting or releasing an already weak or overactive structure, without giving a reason to fire (or do his job) might be a bad idea! Indeed, a better way of addressing this issue would simply be to determine and localize which muscles aren't firing optimally, and which muscles are compensating. This will allow us to change the firing pattern in the brain, in such a way that the motor control centre directs their corrected completion through the spinal cord and the muscles. Sound simple? Well it is and it isn't! LOL.. It is simple on one hand, in that once we have found who the major trouble maker is, we can devise a plan to correct the relationship. On the other hand, long term correction will require due diligence on your part, by doing your prescribed stretches and activation exercises, and religiously sticking to the plan!
AHHH..Pain free at last!!
In conclusion, while releasing tight muscles will no doubt provide temporary relief, a long term solution is to correct the firing patterns, as directed by your brain, to stop dysfunctional patterns from creating the muscular imbalances that may be at the bottom of your chronic pain.