We’ve all experienced muscle or joint pain after exercising or following a hard day’s work. But when these pains extend one or two days past the workout and limit normal everyday movements, you’ll need to see a physiotherapist.
What happens when you injure yourself
During exercise, your muscles, joint and tendons warm up and fill with blood—a process that provides nutrients and oxygen, and releases lactic acid and CO2. This process allows the body to optimize body tissue repair and maintenance.
When you engage in a light level of activity, your body repairs itself automatically and adapts to new works loads. Your body’s structure become more efficient and geared towards performance. It’s a process called overload exercise principle.
But…things can go wrong. In your attempt to work harder or exercise beyond what you’re used to, muscle tissue and joints can breakdown. When you take things too far, your body’s structure become red, swollen and painful on the inside, and are subject to small micro-ruptures. This results in overuse injuries.
So, it doesn’t matter if you’re a worker or an athlete. Injuries happen. Physiotherapy is there to help repair the damage. Your physiotherapist—like the friendly physiotherapists at Active Sport Physiotherapy Clinic—can help you identify the affected structure and mechanism of injury, analyze the faulty biomechanics (movements) to correct and prevent re-injury, and set you up with a stretching and strengthening program. Their goal is to help you recover and return to your regular activities.
What happens when you don’t listen to your body
When you have repetitive irritations, inflammation can become chronic. What could have healed in a period of two to six weeks may linger for three to six months. This happens when a simple inflammation—a mix of redness, heat, pain and tissue irritation—that would normally heal in a few day/weeks changes in chemistry resulting in vulnerable tissue. In other words, when you don’t listen to your body, you can injure yourself more easily!
The four-step solution
There are ways to avoid injury in the first place.
- Identify the aggravating factors and minimize them.
This sounds easy but can be complicated, especially when those aggravating factors come from tasks we need to complete for work, or for everyday living like walking, holding, carrying, lifting and so on. A physiotherapist can help you make ergonomic choices to avoid motions that irritate your body.
- Support the structure.
When it makes sense, you can use a brace for a wrist injury, tendonitis, carpal tunnel, shin splints, chronic ankle sprain or any other overuse injuries. These supports will help you reach a speedy recovery. (As an aside our Bracing Corner has all the bracing you might need.)
- Stretch the affected structures.
When inflamed, a tendon or muscle shortens as it heals (similar to how a skin scar pulls inward). You need to heal these in an elongated position to avoid constant re-tearing and re-irritation of the injury. You do this by stretching!
- Strengthen to prevent recurrence.
Once lengthened, your tissues are less vulnerable to movement and are ready to get strong again. By strengthening it over several weeks to months, you will gradually reverse the process of chronic inflammation and allow the tissue to receive load once more.
Why should you see a physiotherapist?
A physiotherapist is a specialist in movement, function and body mechanics, trained in various sub-specialties including orthopedics, sports, ergonomics, occupational injuries, neurology, and cardiovascular conditions. These are the experts who know how to identify and treat problems using the most effective modalities, who can set up and support you through programs, and can also help you avoid future injuries. They’re trained to help everyone—from the everyday worker to the amateur athlete to the high-performance professional.