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Part 1: Injuries and Pain - Why do they happen to me?

If you resonate with any of these, this blog just might help answer some of your questions!

  • Have pain that migrates from one body part to another?

  • Have a nagging pain that you just can't shake off?

  • Was told that if you rest, it will go away.

  • Thought painkillers would take the pain away?


Why do injuries and pain happen?

It's a loaded question to answer so I want to address one major component today.


Reflexive Protection - our body's natural response.


To understand why injuries occur and why they may re-occur (at the same location or somewhere else in the body), let's understand our body's response to stress.


The natural response of the body is to withdraw from stress (which we will now call a stimulus - more on that later) to provide safety. This can be illustrated through the example of touching a hot object.

  • touching a hot cup will cause your arm to reflexively pull away from the hot stimulus in order to prevent injury. Because the heat of the cup was not signficant enough to result in signficant injury, the body will respond normally afterwards.

  • touching a scalding stove will create a similar withdrawal arm response, however, due to the intensity of the heat and the injury created, your body may have a heightened sensitivity afterwards



What would a heightened sensitivity look like in this scenario? The muscles that pull the arm away from the stove (biceps) will become more tense, and the muscles that straighten the elbow (triceps) will weaken. This could lead to altered function in the future when reaching for objects or pulling objects in towards your body.


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Other examples of this situation might include:


Head Injuries:

  • Hitting your head against a cabinet

  • Getting hit in the face by ball

Getting hit in the front of the head / face could cause the front of your neck muscles to weaken and the back of the neck muscles to tighten - by weakening the front of the neck, the neck is less likely to bend forward and by tightening the back of the neck, it will restrict forward motion of the head.


When would this be relevant? Weakness in the front neck muscles is associated with dizziness, headaches, and neck pain.




Back/pelvis Injury

  • falling on the stairs and landing on your tailbone

  • slipping on ice and landing on your tailbone


Landing on your tailbone / pelvis will lead to tightness of your pelvis, spine, and hips. This can lead to the body feeling compressed, stiff, and tight.

When would this be relevant? Stiffness/tightness in these areas can lead to lower back pain, sciatica, and knee pain.


While these protective responses are helpful in the short term, they may not be helpful in the long term. Overtime, when we have accumuluated enough "protective responses" or compensations that our body can no longer handle, our body will reflect symptoms. Symptoms can come in the form of tightness, stiffness, pain, loss of mobility or strength, tingling, and numbness.


So what if I have experienced these events, these happened to me 20-30 years ago.

What is interesting about the body is that even if you are not experiencing pain anymore, it doesn't mean that the body's reflexive response has normalized.

What does this mean for us?

  • old injuries can influence the speed of recovery of new injuries

  • old injuries can leave you predisposed to developing new injuries

Who does this apply to?

As indicated in the above examples, these events can happen to everyone. That means that we will all develop protective mechanisms that may limit our overall function. However, we are resilient and capable of going through daily life with these protective mechanisms at work. The important key is to stay ontop of your neurological health / injury history by getting it treated sooner than later so that you don't accumulate so much that your body can't handle it which can lead to symptoms.


Take Home Points

  • In response to injury, the body will provide safety for itself through protective mechanisms

  • These protective mechanisms can continue to remain even months/years after the initial incident

  • We are resilient and can continue to thrive even with these protective mechanisms present, but if there is too many protective mechanisms / compensations, symptoms can occur

  • Treat the body sooner than later to prevent future injuries


I hope you learned a few things today and found it helpful for your journey to recovery! If you have any questions about anything I wrote about today, please email me at zacharyhumphysiotherapy@gmail.com


Interested to learn personally about how I work and how I can help you? - Come in for a free 15 minute consultation!


Ready to learn more about your body at a deeper level? - Book your appointment today!







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