The Top 3 Things That Are Causing Your Pain
Have you ever suddenly been in paralyzing pain from “moving the wrong way”? Nothing really happened, yet you have pain that makes you afraid to or unable to move.
I could not bend my knee. “Crap,” I thought as I stared up at the 3 flights of stairs that led to the top of the cliff face. We were 4 miles in on a 6 mile hike, and all of a sudden my knee did not want to climb. How could this be happening? I was young…ish. There was no “event”, though I had admittedly felt this pain before. I was fine when we started. I was fine 10 minutes ago!
“What triggered this?” I thought to myself as I used the railing as crutches. I slowly made my way up the steps, not even trying to hide my suffering. I winced with each sideways step up. I let my sister pass me. I’m normally the leader, but now I have fallen well behind the rest of the group.
We finished the hike and some hours later my knee felt just fine. It was more of a mystery than a miracle. When it started, I knew it would be fine later. I’d been there before.
So what causes this sort of sudden onset of pain?
No matter what part of your body we are talking about be it your back, your shoulder or your knee, the answer is often the same.
It’s an accumulative effect.
More often than not, when pain comes on suddenly without any sort of trauma, it’s due to a lot of little things building up over time. It’s the way you’ve been using your body for hours, days, weeks, months or years leading up to this sudden painful moment. What seems like nothing is actually the straw that broke the camel’s back.
So what kinds of things lead to this?
The 3 Primary Culprits
1. Posture - The way you hold yourself, bear your weight and move sets you up for being in pain or being pain free.
For example, the way you bear your weight on your feet directly influences the position of your knee. If you’re knee is in a compromised position when you move it, there’s potential for injury. It doesn’t stop there. Any compensation anywhere in your body is going to impact all the other parts.
Solution: You can change your posture with mindfulness and the right exercises.
2. Occupation and Hobbies – Your body adapts to things you do all the time. Activities that you do frequently have a huge impact on the amount of stress put on particular parts of your body. These activities also have the ability to influence your overall posture.
For instance, if you spend a large part of your day sitting, you might initially find it hard to straighten out when you get up from your seat. Your hip flexors now rest is a shorter position because they’ve adapted to your hips being flexed for all those hours. Due to their shortened position, they overpower the muscles in the back and hips that are trying to extend and get you back upright.
Solution: You can change your work habits by taking intentional breaks, make a point to change positions and experimenting with new ways of doing things.
3. New or unusual movements or activities – When you introduce a new movement, activity or intensity of activity there is going to be a delicate transition period where your body hasn’t yet mastered the task or adapted to the demand.
Here are a few examples:
You start a new exercise, and you’re sore the next day.
You spend 2 hours working in your garden for the first time of the season. You feel fine while you’re doing it, but the next day you can hardly move.
You’re normally fairly active, but the long drive to your vacation destination has your back killing you.
Solution: Be mindful. Slowly work up to more time and intensity spent on a new exercise or activity, and make a point to take breaks when possible.
The good news about these three contributing factors is you have the ability to control some aspect of every single one!
Check back for more insight on how to improve your posture and manage your pain. I’ll be posting regularly on these topics. Have a question? Please feel free to reach out. I might have an answer.