If I could have one superpower as a physiotherapist, it would be to send someone back in time. Again and again we see patients who know that they should be more active, but are too busy / too tired / too sore. Unfortunately, this usually results in a temporary fix, where the next injury is a little worse… and the next one a little worse… and so on.
Once you have had an injury, whether it be a sprained ankle, lower back pain or a torn hamstring, you are statistically more likely to reinjure that area. If you do not change the circumstances that led to the injury in the first place, it’s almost a guarantee!
As an example – we see many patients for lower back pain. Let’s say a 35 year old male, who has come in for his second case of lower back pain within 24months. He works in an office, plays soccer in the winter season, gets out for the odd walk, but is otherwise inactive outside of running the kids around. Let’s call him Peter, because I just saw Spider Man yesterday (it’s great, go see it!).
If Peter doesn’t change his lifestyle to include more exercise, his back pain episodes will likely continue to get worse / more frequent. Years of working in an office setting with poor posture have detrained his supportive musculature, and poor posture adaptations are starting to become solidified. The base fitness that Peter built as an active teen/young adult has faded, exposing him to repeated injury with no apparent cause.
By exercise, I mean more than walking. Walking is a fantastic, low impact modality – and for this reason does not prepare you particularly well to do anything other than more walking. So, by exercise, I mean resistance training (weights!). I mean sports/activities that challenge your body – get moving in ways that you don’t normally! Your body is an incredible adaptation machine – if you sit all the time, it will literally mould itself to best suit how you sit. This is awesome (and scary). If you run around playing sport and lifting weights and hiking and swimming your body will adapt to allow you to better do those things – that’s why it is so important to do them!
Beats sitting in an office, doesn’t it?
So please, for me – do something different this week. Go on a hike, rent a kayak… do something you’ve always said you’ll get around to. You’ll be all the better for it.