Friday, April 22, 2011

The Best Approach To Joint Pain

Does this sound familiar?

Pain in your joints keeps you from being able to exercise how you want to, go on hikes, stand for long periods of time. This chronic pain pops up when you start a new fitness routine. Maybe you make it for a few weeks, but then the pain and injury force you to stop. Or they slow you down so much that you're not seeing the benefits you want to from working out.

So you do what everyone does for pain: take some pain relievers and ice the joint. It's natural for us to treat the area that hurts, right? But this approach to joint pain is all wrong.

The problem with treating the pain is that you're treating a symptom, not the underlying cause.

We'll use Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome(fancy way to say knee pain) as our example. PFPS is commonly seen in basketball players and runners. This pain is commonly caused by either abnormal forces(muscles around the knee aren't pulling with equal force) or prolonged and repetitive compression and shearing on the joint(running and jumping).

When we break this down, we see that one of the major causes of this pain is from the muscle groups around the joint not being equally well developed. The other cause is essentially overuse, which is the bane of every young athlete and everyone else who aggressively starts a new routine(running too much for example).

And so when people develop this knee pain, they tend to ice their knees and take some anti-inflammatories and pain relievers. But the actual cause of the pain to begin with stems from a lack of an overall fitness plan. Building up to appropriate levels of intensity will solve the overuse problems and developing all the proper muscle groups will handle the imbalance issues.

What you should be taking away from all of this is: joint and muscle pain is an indicator that something is wrong. We usually treat pain by attempting to 'cure' it with ice and pain medicine. But the real fix is to look at the bigger picture and develop our fitness plan to handle this stress our body is feeling. Focus on developing core muscle groups and proper form in your exercises, and most of your pain will fix itself. Rather than treating a symptom, be willing to take a step back and address the real cause. This will improve your success in both your workouts and also your life.

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