Is this really the answer? Do we need to rely on external sources to keep this highly
evolved machine of ours up and running? The answer is a resounding NO!
If our bodies are designed to move
without pain, which they are, how come our backs hurt all the time, or our bad knees keep
us from jogging, or a sore shoulder keeps us from playing tennis? The problem is usually
not the activity but how our body performs that activity. That activity could be an
aerobics class, or simply just standing.
There is, at times, a need for orthopedic
braces and medications. The problem is that they literally become a crutch for us to rely
on. Only with them, can we perform the physical tasks that we wish to do. We resort to
these "crutches" because certain things hurt us when we do them. That pain we
feel is a warning sign. Pain tells us that something is not right with our body.
Therefore, "patching" up the pain is no way to address the cause.
To address the cause, we need to take a
couple of steps backwards. The most obvious step is to find out exactly "what"
hurts. But let's go beyond the normal response to that question. Beyond responses such as
"the cartilage is worn", "the tendons are being impinged", "it's
bursitis", or my favorite, "you're not as young as you used to be". Let's
go as far back as to ask why this happens to the cartilage, the tendons, the bursa etc.
The answer to the simple questions of "why" it hurts is the key to living
pain-free, active lives.
We can get away
with compensating for a while,
but pretty soon it catches up with all of us.
The origin of all these aches and pains
that are labeled "degenerative" or "overuse injuries" is in the way we
use, or I should say, misuse our bodies. Golf is not bad for your back and running is not
bad for your knees. But if your body's structural muscles (those muscles that battle
gravity and balance us from front to back and side to side) are out of balance, then the
ways that our body would most effectively deal with the stresses of activity are
compromised. Our body then compensates. We can get away with compensating for a while, but
pretty soon it catches up with all of us.
At Function First, we have found the best
way to figure out the "why", is to look at both the posture and gait (way of
walking) of the people that we help every day. Looking at your posture, is the only
effective way to analyze the body as a whole, without breaking it down into parts. Many
practitioners only look at the parts that hurt. But then they have missed many components
to a very large equation. Looking at the site of pain can often help the "what"
that hurts. But this is usually temporary, because you have done nothing to correct the
events that lead to the pain rearing its ugly head. Changes in our posture lead to changes
in our biomechanics or body mechanics. The way our human machine works has now changed
without changing its parts. Unfortunately, the original parts were not designed to work
the way we are asking them to now.
Death and taxes
are not the only two things
guaranteed in life - gravity is a third.
The answer to this dilemma is to balance
the body from the inside out. Even if you are under the care of a chiropractor,
acupuncturist, masseuse, etc., ultimately you have to do something where you make the
changes from within. We need to restore the function to our bodies that has been corrupted
by today's automated society, work environments, past injuries and bad habits. We must
also maintain a balance between strength and flexibility throughout our body. Death and
taxes are not the only two things guaranteed in life, gravity is a third. And, the more
effectively our structural muscles deal with gravity, the less compensation is needed by
Improving your body mechanics also
provides your body with an opportunity for self-repair. By removing the constant
irritation that has lead to the pain, your body is now given a chance to heal.
We are all unique in the imbalances that
we develop. Therefore, the way we correct them should be unique to our situation. At
Function First, no one is ever given a generic exercise program. And our exercise program
can be complemented with an aggressive form of myofascial release that expedites the
process by freeing scar tissue and adhesions and clearing nerve entrapments. So, the next
time the wear and tear on that high performance machine of yours doesn't seem right, ask
yourself, "Do I just want to change the tires or should I get my alignment fixed,
Carey M.A., CSCS, is CFO and Principal of Function First, Inc.-"the
exercise alternative for pain relief". Function First is located in San Diego, CA.
Function First assists with people experiencing musculoskeletal pain to eliminate pain,
improve function and live healthier lives.
© Anthony Carey Inc, 2002. All rights