ORIGINALLY published on Thursday, 09 February 2012
Preventing injury and reducing injury potential is among one of the most valuable concepts I can share with my patients. We tend to think regular exercise; strengthening our core; wearing proper footwear; and consistent stretching are secrets to not getting injured. Interestingly to me, these popular ideas of injury prevention seem to have very little bearing on the prevalence of injury. In fact, some of them can cause injury, but that is for another time.
Musculoskeletal injury occurs when the body cannot absorb a particular force. As force enters our body, it is the job of the muscle to absorb force. In order for a muscle to absorb force properly it must be able to turn on at the exact moment force enters into our body. It must also be able to turn on strong enough to absorb the amount of force entering the area. The ability of a muscle to turn on is controlled by the signals coming from the brain. If the signals from the brain are slow or weak it will cause the muscle to respond late and with less strength. This results in some of the force not being absorbed properly. The unabsorbed force will start to transfer to other areas of the body that were not designed to absorb it. These areas are tendons, ligaments, meniscus, labrum, cartilage, bone, bursa, fascia, and other muscles. Because these structures are not designed to absorb force they start to stretch, fray, tear, degenerate, and become inflamed and injured. Very often the cause of injury to tissues is force transferring into the area because of the loss of ability to absorb the force properly by the muscle.
This concept goes against what is often thought by patients and practitioners alike, that the problem lies in the injured tissue itself. Therefore treatment is designed and applied to the injured area alone. One example is when an athlete tears an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in the knee. It is the thought of the athlete, the surgeon, and the physical therapist, that the problem is with the ACL. Through the eyes of functional neurology we can see the problem is a force absorption issue which resulted in an ACL tear.
In short, the ability to maintain appropriate force absorption is directly related to your ability to remain injury free. This concept is very new, but, drives the rapid results that we see clinically at PPC. Simply put, patients and athletes that can fire their muscle with accurate and rapid reaction to stimuli are fast, strong and very rarely get injured. This ability can be easily be determined with a brief neurological assessment of your upper and lower extremity muscle tissue.
Feel free to contact me for questions or comments.