The other day I had a patient who was persistent on getting strengthening exercises on their first chiropractic appointment to treat pain. Usually all my gym-rats want this - they are convinced that they can exercise to correct any injury or sore muscles this way.This is usually not the case. Your body needs a period of anatomical rest to gain relief from muscle pain.
This means we need to figure out what is either causing the dysfunction, making it worse or not allowing you to heal properly and ultimately discontinue it for a period of time. At this appointment I got “that look”. The look I get from my gym-rats that utilize working out as their stress-management system. The look that says with their eyes that they "will cease to exist if they lose a week at the gym". Sometimes that lost week is a small price to pay if the injury continues to get worse and say you’re out of commission for 3-6 months after a medial meniscus surgery, or a sports injury.
Often these injuries re-occur. This individual had IT Band pain. IT Band pain is pain down the side of his leg- or at least this is what he told me he was “diagnosed” with. I always ask who diagnosed you with this and when? If the answer is WebMD we need to start from square one. Please be careful diagnosing and treating yourself. This gentleman was foam rolling his IT Band for the past 3 months. Only throughout my examination I realized he was having neurological symptoms from a herniated disc that sent nerve pain into the side of his leg. By foam rolling the area he was creating more inflammation and damage to the injury.
If an injury persists longer than 2 weeks you need to seek a professional examination to determine the diagnosis. If the pain stops you from doing something- for example if you are out for a jog and the pain is so severe you need to stop and rest you should seek professional treatment. You should never push through the pain.
The best advice I can give you is to please listen to your body. Pain is your body’s way of telling you to "STOP! PAY ATTENTION TO ME"! It's telling you something is wrong. We often don't truly listen to our bodies and think that more exercise, more strength training can help.
The treatment of this gentleman’s injury will be a series of chiropractic treatments that include passive modalities. This will allow his body to restore function to the joints, decrease the inflammation off the spinal nerve, decrease muscle spasm and he will be taken out of his normal gym routine for about one week. Then we will move him into a strength and stabilization phase of chiropractic care where we are:
- Starting to correct his altered movement patterns that have developed due to the injury
- Increasing his pain free range of motion
- Minimizing his deconditioning
- Improving his nervous system
- Restoring his strength, endurance, and
- Restoring his spinal bio-mechanics.
This will allow him to manage his stress safely and effectively while going to the gym and enjoying his workout routine. We always want to correct the dysfunction first before strengthening- you don’t want to strengthen dysfunction- that is much more difficult to fully rehabilitate.