Often times in my practice, I get the puzzled look from a patient when the injury they are describing is not where I feel the injury is coming from. Let me explain.
Take me for example. I recently began a sprint program, one of which I have done many times before. However, after a few weeks of 2-3 sprint sessions a week, I started to notice a deep dull ache and pain in my right low back and pelvis area. Being that I am a chiropractor, I immediately got adjusted and it felt better, but sure enough after a heavy sprinting session I noticed that darn pain again.
Having a background in sports injuries and an understanding for proper body mechanics, I knew immediately that where the pain is, was not were the problem was. I immediately started paying attention to my running biomechanics and what specifically my right thigh was doing while I was running. It didn’t take long to figure out that the problem was on the total opposite side of the pain. I had mechanically run myself into an injury that could have been prevented with some proper strengthening and stretching and Active Release Techniques (ART®) (something I can’t do on myself).
So, to get to the gist of what went wrong, my right hip flexor muscles were very weak and tight and not doing what they should be while sprinting. Here’s what happened: As I went to sprint my hip flexor was weak and also tight (a concept that happens quite often), this caused my pelvis and low back to over extend to do the work my hip flexors were not doing, which is to flex the hip. The problem, those muscles were meant to extend the spine, not to flex the hips. Unfortunately, the hip had to extend too far backward to get my tight hip to move which eventually wore out the low back. Over time my low back began to get inflamed and fatigued, my sacroiliac joint began to get irritated or in plane terms it “just went out”.
Without a good understanding of body mechanics this injury could have quickly turned into a problem, something that happens to many of my patients. As in my case, like so many others, the weakness in one muscle caused many other muscles to work too hard and the injury occurred.
So how do you prevent it: First, pay attention to your body, an ache or pain is your body’s way of saying something is not working right, try to figure it out or have someone look at it for you. Second, if you can pin point the area of pain, try stretching all the surrounding muscles. This will relieve some of the pain, but may not correct the problem. Again, someone with a biomechanics background needs to evaluate that for you. Third, try Active Release Techniques (ART®). It is specifically designed to release those muscles that are both tight and weak and allow the body to move the way it needs to.