As an active person who constantly pushes yourself, you expose your body to a much greater risk of injury than the average couch potato. And injuries are never pleasant.
Besides the pain and discomfort, there is the obvious frustration of having to take a break from training while you either seek medical treatment or wait for the body to repair itself.
If your body has an innate healing ability, why do little niggles and injuries often return weeks, months or even years after overcoming the initial injury?
How is it that some rehab practitioners can get to the bottom of your medical aid funds so quickly, but are slow to resolve the actual injury?
Looking in the wrong places
The answer is simple. They’re possibly looking in the wrong place, and treating the symptoms without resolving the root cause of your injury.
Your body, when active, is a series of kinetic chains functioning holistically in perfect unison. Why then, if your body functions holistically, are injuries treated in isolation? Why is the focus on the site of pain when often the pain is only symptomatic and not causal?
Take, for instance, knee pain, which is a common complaint, especially among runners, cyclists, bodybuilders and contact sports participants.
The knee is a joint with an incredibly high number of fascial connections to other parts of the body, but none more so than with the pelvis.
In my clinic, when people complain about knees I immediately look for pelvic instability or dysfunction. The illiotibial band (ITB) attaches onto the lateral aspect of the knee, and then onto the iliac crest. It also shares attachments with the tensor fascia latae, which, in turn, runs into the glutes and piriformis. The adductors all attach onto the pelvis, and then onto the medial aspect of the knee and femur.
Tension states in any of these muscles can affect the functioning of the knee and, in turn, be the root cause of knee pain. Even tension states in the glutes, hamstrings, quads and ‘locked’ sacroiliac (SI) joints can all lead to pelvic dysfunction, which, in turn, can lead to knee and ankle issues; even shin splints.
READ MORE | 5 ways you’re fast-tracking injury
Treating the cause
You can apply the principle of treating the cause, not just the symptoms can to just about any sporting injury.
So, if you’ve come off your bicycle, had a bad fall while running or damaged a shoulder while weight training, and you can’t seem to shake the injury, then maybe you haven’t gotten down to the root cause of the discomfort.
Often, the presenting symptoms are not the main area of concern and to effectively, and permanently, recover from injuries you have to look past what the body is showing you and try and understand the injury within context.
READ MORE | Why prevention is often better than cure
By Sean Johnson, Founder of the Centre for Structural Medicine