How to prevent recurrent episodes of pain

Written by: Li-Leng Hoang, Osteopath 

With the Prudential RideLondon having just taken place last weekend, closing roads through the local area wreaking havoc on the traffic, it got me thinking about all the different types of fitness and sports activities that we partake in throughout the summer to look and feel our best for chasing the sun as well as keeping the children entertained.  With increased repetitive activities also come potential aches and pains, stiffness and goodness forbid…injuries, which seem to materialise from nowhere! 

This is not dissimilar to my own story of low back pain which led me onto my journey into Osteopathy.  Since my mid-20s I have always experienced slight niggles with low back discomfort which if I aggravated it would usually resolve within a few days with some self-massage and stretches.  However, there was a stressful period in my life that triggered an episode of low back pain which did not resolve with my usual go to stretching measures.  At the time of the triggered event of my low back pain, I was unable to recall anything out of the ordinary aside from my usual low back ache was niggling in the background but that was far from the truth.  I was teaching 25 group exercise classes a week as well as running 3-5 times per week on top for my own training.  I could feel the muscles in my body getting tighter and more persistent until my body had run out of adaptability and one forward bend during a Body Balance class, I was floored with debilitating back pain.

Reflecting back, there were many signs that I ignored in resolving my simple low back ache which could have prevented the more significant event.  As an Osteopath and a Personal Trainer, I often get asked advice about how to prevent recurrent episodes of pain and my advice is this:

Prevention is key through self-management

This is usually through a combination of strengthening and stretching.  If we exercise for long periods of times, why do we only spend 10-15 seconds stretching off our muscles?  Additionally, there are likely to be muscular imbalances which leads to other muscles compensating and addressing those muscular imbalances can unload the strain put on other structures/parts of the body.

When stretching is ineffective try a deep tissue/sports massage

If your stretching routine is ineffective at releasing the muscular tension, it may be worth considering a deep tissue/sports massage.   A Massage Therapist can work deeper into the muscle to relax the contractures and adhesions.

For improving adaptability of structural and biomechanics of the body, an Osteopath and/or Physiotherapist can take a holistic approach is improving healing and function.

Don’t put it off...we all lead busy lives and most of the time it is easy to put that small niggle off.  Get that niggling pain resolved so that you can continue keeping active with the day-to-day of our everyday lives rather than weeks/months of pain or discomfort.


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