The big mistake I see people make, when returning from injury
As we’re almost half way through Spring and the days are getting brighter, I often see people fall victim to this mistake, when returning from injury.
Let me paint the picture.
You love to keep active and get out for a 5k run, a few times a week. But lately, you’ve been getting a tightness and ache in your glute muscle. It’s got to the stage where it’s very sore after a run and you can even feel it when walking.
You go to a therapist, who gets their elbow stuck into you for half an hour, it hurts like hell,but you feel great afterwards. So good, that you head out for a run that evening because it’s a beautiful evening.
However, the next morning, when you go to get out of bed, your glute completely tightens up and you can just about stand up straight and you have to limp around the house.
You think “What the hell just happened?”
“What the hell
So, what did just happen?
This is a common issue that patients tell me when they come to my clinic.
They got treated. Felt great. Went back to their favorite activity and ‘boom’. Their muscles completely tighten up, they’re in a lot of pain and feel like they are back to square one.
Let me explain to you what happened.
First off, very often, this is not the person’s fault!
You see, there are 3 vital parts of the return to full activity process missing here.
- The first vital part is that after the ‘rub’, massage or dry needling, the tissues were not loaded again properly in the clinic, before the person left. If an tissue feels tight or sore, there is a reason why it is tight or sore. If you just ‘loosen’ or take away the ‘tightness’ without adding stability back, then it will just tighten up again, to give stability back to the body.
You cannot just give back increased movement without adding some stability.
- The second vital part is that it is up to the therapist to educate the patient on what activity they can and can’t do. If the patient doesn’t know this, then of course they will go back to full activity if they feel great after the treatment. But it is up the therapist to inform them of where they are in the return to activity process and what amount of activity they are able for.
- The third vital part is gradually introducing the tissues to higher and more demanding loads. For example, if the patient is a runner, then they need to be exposed to the demands of repetitive landing from one foot to the other. If they want to play football, then they need to be exposed to the demands of playing football.
If this stage is missed, then the patient has not earned the right to going back to their chossen activity, their body has not been exposed to it and the problem will return, or they get pain or tightness in some other part of their body.
Step by Step Plan
If you have fallen victim to the above scenario that I described, then I can presume that either you were not given a treatment plan or you did not follow it correctly.
In my clinic, I make sure to explain this plan clearly to my clients, as I want to be fully confident that when they return to full activity, they are ready for it and the problem will not flare up and return.
My take home point.
There is more to returning to full activity after an injury, than just getting your muscles massaged, dry needled or strengthened. You may get lucky and the problem may go away after one of these treatments, but chances are it will flare up again or some other area will get sore down the road.
So, don’t fall into this injury cycle of feeling great, skipping steps and getting re-injured. It’s frustrating and you will possibly end up having to go for twice the amount of treatment. Ensure your therapist has a return to activity plan for you, so you can enjoy your exercise, without the problem returning.