In the practice of treating chronic pain there is often very similar issues that will constantly present themselves, and this week it seems to be the issue of an aging population that are experiencing leg pain. This week it seems to be somewhat epidemic.
I really felt the compulsion after one particular long time client yesterday came to me with a reoccurring problem that she has. Without getting into any personal information there is a pathological issue that this person deals with but with regular exercise, water aerobics, the issue has been controllable. My services are normally required two times per year but in recent months there seems to be more of a re-occurrence. As many know this disturbs me that the treatments are not holding for longer periods of time.
What has been a common thread is the chaos that is happening with the Pelvic girdle. What I have also noticed the last few times is that there is a common thread to the chaos, and that is the upper thigh or Quadriceps are extremely tight and disorganized. When asked about her form of exercise the individual claimed that they were told to strengthen these muscles in order to prevent knee pain. As many of you know I find that these create an imbalance to the normal tension on the lower skeleton and thus creates a conundrum in standing and walking. Many also know that when I am teaching in the PIlates studio we often bring this subject up. The use of these larger muscles for dynamics creates more problems than they prevent.
What will help prevent you ending up like the man in the picture? We all need to strengthen the ability of the lower leg or calf muscles to aide in the skeleton's ability to move. The body moves from the end point to the mid point and what this individual was doing was moving the opposite way. This forced the Pelvis into an awkward presentation and therefore distorted itself to adapt to the imbalance in tension integrity of the skeleton. If it did not, there would have been an unusual pull that when the concurring push happened the individual would have lost balance and fell. This becomes a larger than life issue especially when there has been so many snowy and icy days here in Northern Ohio and throughout the country.
The question is "Well how should I do this?" My pat answer is learning how to reprogram the neurological connections in the body. Remembering that we move from the end to the middle we have to consciously, in the case of standing and walking, move the ankle joint first. This action will trigger the mechanism in the brain to use the correct muscles, this is the best way to create strength, and proper use of the muscles. Strengthening the upper thigh muscles will eventually compound the problem and negative results will happen.
What needs to be accomplished is this re-programming of the nerve impulses to the brain so that an unconscious action takes place just upon thought. I often have someone place a one pound weight in their hand, flex the wrist and just focus on the elbow bending so that the weight is moved toward the shoulder. The hard part for most is that they want to perform the action instead of forcing the brain to figure it out and re-pattern the proper muscle movement.
In our Pilates studio we create scenarios with the use of the equipment so that individuals will start to develop these patterns. The repeating of the process ingrains the message to the point that when movement is required the brain processes this information and not only allows for pain free movement but re-strengthens the muscles.
One last item I want to address in this blog is the issue of, "it is hard and painful for me to rollover in bed!" People are always amazed that we can get them to roll over with no pain and great ease when done properly. Once again in the beginning you will have to think this one out to re-develop the proper pattern, but when rolling over you need to use your spine. Since the low back or lumbar section doesn't rotate start by using the shoulder that is in the up position and generate the ability to roll over from the upper spine to the lower, the rest of the body will follow. To many people want to generate the twisting motion with their butt muscles and they don't work like that.
Hopefully this information helps and I would love to entertain any and all questions and concerns you might have. My recommendation is that you come in and try our Fundamental Movement Therapy(SM) that is taught in our Pilates studio to help in reorganizing your brains pattern of movement. This will help strengthen the proper muscles and help you drive away the demons that many call getting old.
Remember there is always a REASON TO HOPE!
~Dennis Gibbons LMT