How to put Humpty Dumpty back together again: What to do when you have an injury or better yet, how to avoid them.
Anyone that has played sports or lead an active lifestyle long enough knows eventually you injure yourself or you start to ache and hurt in places you didn’t think you could. The reasons for why; overuse, incorrect mechanics, etc. are plenty but the real question becomes ‘How do you fix it and continue to enjoy such a lifestyle?’ and ‘How do you ensure you don’t re-injure yourself? There’s no reason you can’t stay active well into your golden years or beyond and do so without pain. However, if you have experienced an injury, in your youth or later in life, and are still suffering from its effects there are several ways you can fix the problem and return, virtually pain free, to the activities you so enjoy. Below are a few I have employed overtime to reverse the effects of injuries over the years some of which aided in derailing my professional playing career. Even if you are unable to employ some of these disciplines hopefully you are inspired, at a minimum, to seek out others to aid in your recovery. I’m not certain who said “If you’re not moving, you’re dying.” but they are exactly right.
For those that understand where the next greatest things come from you know it’s almost always from the fringe; i.e. the periphery, and rarely from the established philosophy of the time. Whether your problem was injury(s) from your youth you were unaware of or because of overuse, the disciplines mentioned below can help put a broken body back together again. You don’t need ‘all the kings’ horses’ or ‘all the kings’ men’, you just need to find the ones that work for you. But the question is how do you do that in a world full of information? This is a good place to start.
These are not the only ways of healing. They are some I have tested with amazing results and encourage you to try them or at a minimum experiment and find your own. The goal is to inspire you to believe there is something out there that can help you and not to stop until you find it. Others you may not have heard of; Reiki, Reflexology, etc. may work better given your access to practitioners but you will have to experiment to find out. You may require an assortment of methods, such as I did, but for those that want the joy and freedom a healthy body provides, the experts mentioned below can work wonders. At a minimum, the aim of this post is to change your belief that there is no longer hope and to get you on the path to physical health and moving freely once again. The first step - you committing to getting yourself healthy; i.e. you must want it before you can make it happen.
Massage and Foam Rolling (soft tissue)
Why do you feel better after a massage or foam rolling session? Because it works. Massage helps the recovery process by removing waste out of the muscles and cells, while at the same time stimulating the skin and reducing pain feedback from the spinal cord. On a larger level these help reduce or eliminate adhesion's (tightly bound muscle fibers) within the muscle and allows the muscle to work in its full range of motion. If the adhesion is not significantly reduced or eliminated, and the muscle cannot work the way it was designed you risk greater injury through compensation of other muscles that have to pick up the slack left by the compromised muscle. Regardless of the reasoning, elimination of waste from the body and breaking up adhesion's is always a good thing. Plus, you feel great afterwards. Just be certain to drink plenty of water after your session. You don’t want any waste hanging around your body after it’s been released from the muscle. You can self-massage by utilizing a variety of products; the RAD Rollers, body back buddy, or crème-de la-creme Infinity massage chair or you can roll yourself out with foam rollers of varying degrees; white roller, black roller (much firmer), Rumble Roller (for the advanced or adventurist type). However, in my experience they do not match the hands of an experienced professional. A good masseuse is sometimes hard to find and may take some trial and error. Once you find one you like treat them like a member of the family because they can and will make you feel like a million bucks. If you have trouble finding one, or don’t have the financial means, many areas now have massage schools where they offer much lower rates in exchange for their students to have someone to practice their technique on. This can be a great alternative both financially and in helping someone improve their skill. It would be great to be able to receive a massage daily or once a week. Unfortunately, I don’t have the means to do so and mine must be separated by more time if I am to continue employing the others on this list.
For those in the Low Country try - International Spa Institute (where masseuses offer lower rates for test subjects)
A.R.T. - Active Release Technique (soft tissue)
Looking at art on a wall will not help you physically. Emotionally and spiritually maybe, but not physically. However, Active Release Technique, more commonly referred to as A.R.T., was developed by Dr. Mike Leahy in the 1980’s as a way for high level athletes to relieve soft tissue disorders. Each of us damages our muscles at various points in our lives in a variety of ways; acute trauma, series of micro tears or lack of oxygen. When we have trauma to our soft tissue (muscles, ligaments, tendons or fascia) one of the side effects is scar tissue and as that grows it can impede movement of these soft tissues to the point they become weak or trapped, causing immobility, lack of performance and pain. A well-trained ART specialist, through their thorough evaluation, will determine the cause of the problem and location of the issue then through specifically applied tension while moving the tissue through a precise range of motion, eliminate the problem. Treatments are often painless and any discomfort comes from having to work out the tightness of the problematic soft tissue. As a maintenance measure, I visit my local ART specialist every three weeks and if I’m playing, working, or training harder I may shorten that to two weeks so my body doesn’t fall back to old habits and patterns.
For those in the Low Country try the following - Dr. Patti Zeintek
A.R.T. around the country and globe or to find an ART practitioner in your area go HERE
NUCCA–TheGoodman Method (structural)
NUCCA stands for National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Association and is an organization of chiropractors that focus on the neck only. Their theory is if the head is sitting crooked due to vertebrae in the neck being out of alignment the entire body will make compromises to support the structure above. To some this may seem extreme but to others who have tried using conventional methods to no avail NUCCA is a godsend. It doesn’t matter if your pain is in your back, hip, etc. there is a good chance the pain is due to the head being out of position and the remainder of the body readjusting to support it. When this happens, the entire body is forced to move in a compensatory fashion. Soft tissue develops adhesions and bones begin to wear too soon. If structural integrity has been compromised, either by injury, repetitive motion, etc. you run a high risk of damaging yourself. Through a non-invasive technique (no ‘snap-crackle-pop’) a well-trained NUCCA will determine which of the neck vertebrae are out of alignment and literally push them back into place. With the head properly supported everything under it is relieved of unnecessary tension and able to function in the manner in which it was designed, void of compensation. These adjustments are often done while in the prone position (lying down) and by the time you stand erect you can already feel the muscles that were tight and restricted begin to relax. For some, myself included, you may feel a bit lightheaded when you first stand, which is the result of the eyes re-coordinating themselves with the newly aligned head and the brain/body reestablishing its proprioception. Experienced NUCCA’s will tell you the adjustment will hold for quite some time, often a few months at minimum. As your body improves and adapts, the length of time between sessions becomes longer and the need for an adjustment lessens. I have utilized the Goodman Method to help alleviate an issue I had with my neck (which stemmed from an accident in my youth) and have been impressed with the results. Due to the length of time between the accident and initial treatment I am required to visit more than the norm but still no more than once per quarter.
For those in the Southeast:
Dr. Stephen Goodman
For those in the Northeast
Dr. John Goodman
Find a NUCCA in your area or around the globe HERE
NOTE: NUCCA would fall into the category of chiropractic. Some say chiropractic doesn’t work but there are many that swear by it. If it didn’t do some good, there wouldn’t be so many around. For those that have suffered from pain and failed to get relief from conventional medical methods chiropractic has been their saving grace. I have benefited from the use of a chiropractor for some time and the best piece of advice I can offer is vet your practitioner the same way you would any other discipline. As with anything there are those that are highly qualified and those not so much and if you feel you are being sold on something yet find the results not to your liking you may have to look a bit harder for a better one.
Rolfing (soft tissue)
Not as highly recognizable as some of the aforementioned disciplines but highly effective in terms of releasing tissues that have been restricted due to trauma, overuse, etc. You can work on a group of muscles (massage, rolling or A.R.T.), fix the structure (chiropractic) but if you don’t release the superficial fascia (a top layer) so you can get deeper into the tissues, the other disciplines will find it difficult to reach their full potential.
Rolfing differs from massage in that massage tends to focus on specific muscle groups and discomfort. Rolfing primarily aims to improve the bodies alignment and overall function. While taking a session, you may think the practitioner is hardly doing anything because their touch is sometimes subtle (yet highly effective). This isn’t always the case and sometimes the practitioner needs to get deep into the tissue and may require more forceful measures, but rarely if ever painful. A standard practice is to employ a Rolfer for ten sessions and during that time you will start to see your bodies structure improve as chronic patterning is removed and replaced by efficiency.
I have personally taken the ten-session course and have experienced its positive effects. In fact, my body was so mangled and twisted from years of playing, traveling and sleeping on terrible hotel beds that I needed 3-5 sessions prior to the base ten session structural realignment program just to get back to a ‘normal’ baseline. I now use Rolfing to continue to improve my body’s structural balance and decrease the chances of my body falling back into the chronic pattern it was in for so long. I use a maintenance program where I have a session approximately every six to eight weeks.
Rolfing in the Low Country - Jeannie Kelley at Island Soma Therapy
Rolfing around the globe - Learn more about Rolfing HERE
If you watched the 2016 Summer Olympics you noticed many athletes with red circles all over their body. This was the result of a very old practice known as cupping. The goal of cupping is to get deep into the muscle belly to relieve it of old blood and toxins that may have settled in because of injury, overuse, etc. Utilizing suction, cupping extracts the old blood out and the body flushes it out through the natural evacuation process of waste removal. As old blood is pulled to the surface it often leaves a large mark like a large hicky but within a few days goes away. Flushing out the older, stagnated blood makes room for nutrient enriched blood and not only do you feel better but the muscle can operate more efficiently.
Cupping in the Low Country try: Oasis Life Spa
Cupping around the globe or to find a cupping expert in your area look HERE
Egoscue Method (structural)
A former fighter pilot Pete Egoscue was told he would never walk again. He didn’t accept that answer and with determination and a deep desire for a life he wanted, he educated himself and developed the Egoscue Method. His main clinic is found in San Diego with another operation in Atlanta, Ga. If you are unfamiliar with this method it is a series of movements, often prescribed by one of Egoscue’s practitioners, that allow the body’s joints to realign themselves. The theory is the body was designed to work and function in certain ways and when we stop moving in such ways the homeostasis the body so often seeks is disrupted. As sedentary lives begin to rob us of our mobility, flexibility and strength these movements (more so than exercises) begin to reestablish this connection. Depending on your issue there maybe a limited amount of movement exercises and only a series of benign positions prescribed. These positions maybe as simple as laying on the ground, your rear end up against a wall and your legs extended vertically up a wall with feet and toes engaged pointing horizontally away from the wall. Not quite an exercises but holding this position for 5-15 minutes allows the pelvis and hips to settle into themselves and re-align. It may seem like nothing but don’t be fooled by the simplicity.
Learn more on the Egoscue Method or find a facility near you HERE
Having trouble clearing the lead hip on the down and forward swings? It may be the result of a tight RecFem (rectis femoris) in the lead leg. Unable to keep your arms and club on plane? How tight are your lats? Shoulder issues but you have good flexibility? You may lack the muscular stability to support your swing and are on a one-way path to shoulder problems. Whether it’s one of these issues or something else a knowledgeable trainer will help you identify where you’re strong/weak, flexible/inflexibility, mobility/immobile so you can continue moving efficiently and do so with a limited risk of injury. A good trainer will help you, a great trainer can take your game to levels you didn’t think possible just by getting your body to move more efficiently. This is accomplished in a variety of ways from stretching one area twice as much as another to regain structural symmetry of the body, particular weight training to reduce the negative effects of repetitive asymmetrical movement in one direction (this could be as simple as doing cable wood chops in the opposite direction as your golf swing). Whatever physical issues you may have, current or pending, working with the right trainer can eliminate them and in some cases even have you hitting the ball straighter and longer. There are too many different variables to get into detail here, since each of us are different and our bodies change with each weight or stretching program, but as with the disciplines above, finding a great one can do wonders for your game and life.
Structural specialists and trainers in the Low Country:
Justin Price at Aspire Fitness & Wellness - Charleston
Mike DeMaria at Athlete First Elite Sports
Structural Experts around the globe:
Others practices to consider:
Tapping Therapy- The Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT - also known as "Tapping Therapy" or "Meridian Tapping Techniques (MTT)") was created by Gary Craig and works like emotional acupressure to quickly, gently and easily release the negative emotions and beliefs that are at the root of all our problems and pain.
Find a practitioner in your area or around the globe HERE
ELDOA - In technical terms ELDOA means, Longitudinal Stretching with Osteo-Articular Decoaptation. In simple terms the ELDOA is used to target a specific joint (region) to decompress, relive pain, restore function and balance.
Find a practitioner in your area or around the globe HERE
Osteopathy - a form of drug free non invasive manual medicine that focuses on total body health by treating and strengthening the musculoskeletal framework, to include joints, muscles and spine with the goal of having a positive effect on the body's nervous, circulatory and lymopathic systems.
Find a practitioner in your area or around the globe HERE
As you can see there are several practices and disciplines that can help you repair a broken body or better yet, keep you from getting hurt, but it would be a good idea to utilize them regularly. Some of you may have found other disciplines that have worked and some of you may still be searching. Whatever you do, don’t give up until you get the relief you desire and the results you want. No one likes to have their ability to move taken away and the longer we can move and play the more enriched our lives will be. If you’ve been broken it can be fixed. If you’re not broken and want to ensure you don’t become broken, employing some of these practices will help ensure your body remains agile and moving for a long time. Whatever you do make sure it’s with the intention to continue moving and enjoying life.
VIDEO on gadgets to alleviate stiffness & tightness:
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