Muscle Pain, Go Away

I was chatting with a client the other day, and she made a remark about how when she goes to the doctor, a lot of different health issues are talked about, but there’s rarely anything said about muscles and other soft-tissues (tendons, ligaments, fascia, nerves).

Sure, the doc is concerned about your overall weight and fitness level, but do they ever ask about how well you’re moving? Or do you mention to them that you’ve had tight hamstrings since you were in middle school when you failed the sit-and-reach test, or that you get a huge knot between your shoulders after sitting in front of a computer all day at work and it’s super annoying, not to mention painful?

These are things we tend to not mention to anyone, unless it’s your significant other who’s heard you complain about it a million times before and gives you a super-sympathetic, “uh huh, yeah, sorry your back hurts. Did you rake up the leaves yet?”

The truth is that we tend to suck it up and deal with all the aches and pains of moving around. At least until it gets so bad that you’ve missed the window for conservative intervention and skipped right to needing medications, shots, and even surgery (go big or go home, right?).

Any idea how much our collective stubbornness costs? Here are some stats for you.

  • In 2011, the cost of treatment and lost wages associated with musculoskeletal disorders was $213 billion.
  • In 2012, 25.5 million people lost an average of 11.4 days of work due to back or neck pain, for a total of 290.8 million lost workdays in 2012 alone.
  • The average annual cost per person for treatment of a musculoskeletal condition is $7,800.*

Y’all, that’s a bunch of money and productivity that we lose. And before you flip out and say those stats also include disorders such as arthritis, consider this. If you don’t have a family history of arthritis, preventing it is mostly about maintaining healthy joints, which means keeping the joints’ support structures (muscles, tendons, ligaments) healthy and strong.

That’s where I come in. I specialize in a technique called Active Release Techniques®, or ART. It’s a manual therapy (I use my hands to fix you) that targets muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia, and nerves. I locate the tissue that is tight, stuck, pinched, etc., and apply some pressure and tension while you perform a motion specific to the area I’m working. Clients normally get significant relief of symptoms during the first session and issues can be fully resolved in only a few visits.

Add in a few maintenance, strengthening exercises that you can easily do at home, and boom, you’re good to go.

No more missing work, missing out playing with your kids, being unable to work out because of a nagging injury, and no more eye rolls from your significant other (well, at least not for complaining that your back hurts).

 

* American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. “One in two Americans have a musculoskeletal condition: New report outlines the prevalence, scope, cost and projected growth of musculoskeletal disorders in the U.S..” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 March 2016. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/03/160301114116.htm>
**And I thought I was done using MLA citations when I finished college. Sigh.

The clothes make the athlete. If only it were so simple…

You’ve done it. You know you have. Justified the purchase of new athletic clothes or gear by telling yourself that you’ll be more consistent with training or be able to finish faster simply because your outfit is awesome or you have the latest workout gadget. But in reality, how much will that purchase actually affect your training or, ultimately, your race?

Once the novelty wears off, is it really going to motivate you to:

  • get up at the crack of dawn for a training run when you still hurt from yesterday’s
  • push past that horrible, sluggish feeling you have during every first mile
  • keep moving despite that nagging pain you have in you hamstring, or foot, or knee…or all three
  • actually be consistent with your training plan the whole time, instead of petering off when your weekday runs become as long as your long runs were in the first few weeks

Are your new shoes or shorts or gadgets going to help you then?

Now, don’t get me wrong; I fall into these same traps. I’m a pro at justifying athletic purchases. Those new shorts will absolutely make me want to run more. But if I’m honest, they don’t make a bit of difference when my hamstring starts nagging me ten minutes into a training session.

My point is that it’s not the clothes that make the athlete. It’s the motor, the machine. IT’S YOUR BODY.

So why haven’t you been investing in it?

You shouldn’t decide that you’re going to do a half-marathon and only add training runs to your schedule. Your body is going to be under a lot more stress than normal. Muscles, ligaments, and tendons are going to be screaming at you wondering what they’ve done to deserve this type of treatment. They say, “weren’t we all happy just chillin’ on the couch?”

If you demand more of your body, you have to invest more in it. But, oh! Invest, what a scary word!

Calm down, it’ll be fine.

I’m not talking about endless treatment sessions where you shell out a mountain of cash. It’s kind of like cleaning your house; if you do a little bit every now and then, you’ll save yourself a headache later. Take care of your body before, or at the first sign of, discomfort, and keep from getting injured later.

My point is this:

Yes, your new running outfit makes you look super legit and intimidating to others. But your body is what’s going to get you across the finish line.

Don’t just train it, MAINTAIN it.