From Aches & Pains to Train & Gain!

Hello Swole Crew!


Today we will be discussing the importance of having great mobility (mobile ability) and how this improves the functionality of your body in everyday life. We will dial in particularly in the realm of physical therapy and how the expertise a PT offers adds to our strength and growth as a whole system.


The sun is shining brightly overhead, and you can feel a nice ocean breeze as you run four miles along the surf of your favorite beach. You finish that run with an ache in your shins that started around mile two. Maybe you have a desk job, and when you get up at the end of the day, you have lower back pain that just seems to never subside. These might not seem like major problems, but our bodies were made for movement and exercise, and pain during these activities is not the norm. In order to better care for our bodies, advocate for your health and consider that you may need outside help to figure out what these pains represent. 


Whether you just had surgery or your posture is off, a physical therapist can help. A physical therapist is someone that specializes in the functionality and mobility of the body. Functionality in terms of our bodies is all the actions you physically should be able to do, while mobility is about the range of motion your joints should be able to perform. For example, functionality means our bodies are able to function the way bodies do, like heal from a cold, or dance and sing. Mobility is more about whether a part of you, let’s say your elbow, can move the way an elbow should, as in it can bend 180 degrees. There are times when mobility is off, and that’s where a physical therapist comes in. They work in a lot of different modalities like cardiovascular, pulmonary, orthopedics, sports, or geriatrics. For the purpose of this blog post, we are going to focus on how physical therapists can be an asset to you.


Look back at our example of the person with a desk job and lower back pain. It’s not unusual to take some painkillers and move on, but when that pain persists, it’s time to get that back looked at. Your mobility and general functionality could be the problem. 

Let’s get into further detail with lower back pain. There are many reasons why lower back pain persists but one example would be tight hamstrings. Tight hamstrings pull down on the pelvis, which in turn pulls on the lower back muscles and causes the lower back to round. This can cause pain because it’s not how your body was made to move. The ideal position of your back should look something like a seahorse. The vertebrae by your neck and lower-back should gently curve inward and there should be a curve outward in the middle back. This natural structure of our spine is ideal for balance, flexibility, and acts as a shock absorber. Muscles support the curves around the spine, but as we just learned, if our muscles are stiff -then our posture could be off. Although not terribly painful at first, this kind of discomfort is cumulative so years of inefficient movement can rear its ugly head as lower back pain. 


Although this isn’t the cause of all lower back pain, this is a good example of how our bodies have an optimal way of moving, but often that movement is sidetracked because of a lack of knowledge or habitual inefficient movement. Even trying to correct this issue on your own can be difficult. If you go to the gym, and the hamstrings are not used to being worked, then other muscle groups may try to take over for those hamstrings. Thus overworking the wrong group of muscles; meanwhile, your hamstrings are still tight and your back is still in pain. Over time, overworking the wrong muscle groups hurts your joints, which over a longer period of time can cause arthritis. That’s the worst case scenario, but in general improper exercise just makes for inefficient movements that can tire you out and work the wrong muscle groups. 


Physical therapists are there to help you regain function and mobility by observing what you are capable of, listening to what your concerns are, and planning a regimen to help you reach your best. Physical therapists are not just for the elderly or the injured, they also do preventative work to lessen the likelihood that you’ll need surgery or have arthritis down the line. We exercise to increase our strength and flexibility, but with physical therapy it’s about finding a better way to move.


Physical therapy is also an educational experience in how our bodies are meant to work. You should be able to get an appointment and walk away with a treasure chest of knowledge on the best way to physically move through life. This is a chance to learn about your body and what movements or habits are linked to injury and how to prevent it. Your body is like the isogram five-thousand. An isogram is a word in which no letter is repeated, it is a combination of letters that form a unique and meaningful word. Your body and the way you move is unique and no two are alike. This makes finding what works for you imperative because what may work for someone else or what worked for you ten years ago may no longer work. 


At a physical therapy appointment, it’s a lot like a mini workout session. There is focus on what is causing an issue, or what needs strengthening and you do exercises to help those trouble areas. The physical therapist will also give you exercises to do at home. Just like going to the gym or eating, taking care of yourself is something you have to commit to. Following through with the exercises and appointments are what will help your body adjust to the new way of moving. 


At the end of the day, that lower back pain will only get worse with time and continue to limit your mobility and function unless there is preventative work done. It’s important to stay on top of your health and give yourself what you need in order to live a happy productive life. Think about your car, if your car requires premium gasoline to function at it’s best and minimize breakdowns, then you buy the premium gasoline. Our bodies are very similar, if we require extra help to stop pain or minimize discomfort then we should always choose to get our needs met. You only have one body and one lifetime to take care of it. Don’t quit running or settle for constantly popping Advil when you can find a solution that helps you live a better life.


We hope today’s discussion adds to the value of your training in ways that illuminate holes and weaknesses in your current regiment. Always strive for more, and create urgency in fixing issues as they arise. Sending love and support always!


Blessings, Adan Martinez


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