I was speaking to a friend of mine recently who is a very good badminton player and has been struggling recently with injury and I have been able to point him in the direction of the best practitioner in his area to go and see to get him back on the road to recovery. This friend is an engineer by background and therefore has a great interest in how the body is set up and how it works and how seemingly little things can have a great effect somewhere else in the body. The way that this gentleman and I work is a little bit different to that of traditional therapists – we are both really interested in working out the bodies compensations and their affect on the rest of the body and work to reset those dysfunctional parts of the system rather than treating symptoms which unfortunately a lot of therapists do.
For example, imagine that you badly sprain your L ankle, in the short term you will avoid putting weight on that foot because it hurts. However, once the physical injury itself may have disappeared the brain will still be reluctant to fully trust that ankle due to it remembering that it sustained a bad injury there. This will lead to you changing your weight distribution and you may end up standing with ~60% of your bodyweight on your R leg as you continue to sub-consciously avoid the L. Now if you continue to work and move in this way which hip do you think will need replacing when your reach 60? That's right, the R one. Pretty obvious right? This individual may start to experience pain around their R hip as all the soft tissue around here tightens up to create additional stability and this may cause discomfort and so that's what they come and see you for – R hip discomfort. Now depending on the practitioners training they may end up just treating this R hip which is obviously not the problem it is a symptom. In this case until the L ankle problem is successfully resolved this person is going to go on having R hip discomfort or tightness.
I am always hearing that people go to physio and feel they just get rubbed, or go to another practitioner and get cracked and this helps for a few days but then the problem returns, but because they've had short term relief they go back again, and again, and again. If you are continually going to see someone and your symptoms keep coming back (certain conditions notwithstanding) or you need monthly maintenance sessions, or you are not making progress then I am sorry to say but your practitioner has not identified the cause and they are just treating the symptoms.
I read a headline yesterday that Manu Tuilagi, a Leicester Tigers and England rugby union player has suffered another injury set back having suffered groin and hamstring problems for the last couple of years already. Another name that comes to mind is the footballer Daniel Sturridge who has suffered hamstring, groin and calf problems all on the same leg. You can find people in every sport that fit this kind of category. When I read stories like this I just think one thing – there is an underlying problem that has not been resolved that is causing all of these problem, I mean do you really think that hamstring, groin and calf problems on the same leg are unrelated?! I certainly don't. It certainly isn't a good advert for the medical departments in these clubs that some of their players continue to have related problems and it seems pretty clear to me that they are missing something. Unfortunately when athlete's suffer ongoing muscular injuries they inevitably end up having surgery which creates an additional trauma that then needs to be resolved. I am not saying that surgery may not be required, however I think in most cases it is unlikely that they would have needed surgery if their original problem had been resolved in the first instance.
Western medicine and traditional forms of therapy do not take into account the sub-conscious effects that traumatic injury has on the body and how this then effects the biomechanics as the brain no longer trusts the old injured area. The story that I like to tell people here to illustrate and make sense of this point is to highlight the work of Edward Taub who was a behavioural neuroscientist. Taub conducted experiments on chimps looking at how the brains perception of injury is perhaps the most important factor. He severed the nerve to the R arm of a chimp (pain free) and let it go about its day to day life and then after a period of time reconnected it so it had full neural control back yet that chimp went on not using its R arm even though there was no problem with it – a process called learned non-use. He took another chimp and carried out the same procedure of severing the nerve to the R arm and then put that chimps arm in a sling so that it couldn't use it. After the same period of time he reconnected the nerve and took the sling off and found that the chimp used its R arm as before the procedure, completely unaffected. The only difference in these two chimps was the perception of injury, the second chimp's brain never learnt that it couldn't use its R arm and so it continued to use it. Your brain and body work in the same way.
The work that I do specialises in 'rewiring' the part of the brain that regulates movement so that it can trust itself again. Typically when you restore proper movement control in the affected areas peoples pain and movement problems tend to go away. Cool right? And pretty obvious when you think about it. This means that if you get on top of problems quickly when they happen and fully resolve them that you can stop the body compensating and compensating until it just can't cope any more and then you feel like you are falling apart. What may start in your body as one dysfunction can soon create secondary compensations as things begin to move differently and your brain does its best to control movement. In this way clients become like onions - they have many layers (just like Shrek said!). You sometimes have to peel away the more superficial layers of dysfunction before you can truly get to the root problem and in this way you correct or work on the thing that needs to be addressed at that given time and everyone's body has an individual order to the root that it needs to be fixed in. When this happens it is not unusual for someone's pain to start moving around and starting to hurt in new places or more often places that they used to hurt but now may feel OK.
If any of this sounds familiar or you have questions or maybe even want to ask for a referral for a practitioner who works in the same way then just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org