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Some injuries are caused by specific traumatic incidents. More often, though, they come on gradually over time, in the form of ‘overuse’ injuries, such as knee pain whilst running. ‘Overuse’ is a bit of a misleading name, suggesting that the best way to treat such injuries is to rest them until the pain has subsided, before returning to previous practice without changing anything. In fact, these injuries are caused by misuse, not overuse, and the only way to get rid of the pain in the long term is to change the movement pattern. For example, knee pain could be caused by the glutes not firing properly, tight hamstrings, or pelvic dysfunction – but you won’t know until the whole problem has been investigated.
Let’s get something straight: posture matters. A huge number of our patients have ‘text neck’ (imagine having your phone in your hand and peering down at it). Over time, this bad posture causes your chin to jut forwards to meet the demands you make of it. Your head is extremely heavy (around 10-11lbs, or 5kg), so holding it even a few degrees forward can increase pressure on your neck and shoulders. If you’ve recently been suffering from stiffness or soreness in these areas, have a look at our short video guide to perfect posture.
Are you sitting comfortably? Then let’s talk about backs. Back pain, particularly lower back pain, is one of the most common problems we see here at Victory.
A common factor among many of our back pain patients is that they spend long hours sitting at a desk each day. If this sounds a lot like you, it’s a good idea to see a physio first to rule out any underlying problems, but for posture correction, our friends at The Back Shop sell a range of brilliantly designed furniture to get you working right.
This exercise is another of Sarah Key’s, and is great for stretching your low back. You’ll need what Sarah calls a back block; they’re also known as yoga bricks. Roughly the size of a house brick, they come in a variety of materials including wood, bamboo, cork and foam — I usually use one made of solid foam, though in an emergency I have also been known to use a hardback copy of a Harry Potter book!
When we spend all day with our spines in an upright position (sitting, standing, walking, running), gravity combined with our bodyweight squashes our spinal discs, and over the course of the day they flatten out a bit. It’s not unusual to be 2cm shorter at the end of the day than you were at the start. Generally, the discs rehydrate and plump up again overnight when you’re lying flat, but over time — with age, or particularly with injury — the flattening starts to have a greater effect than the rehydration, and you develop stiff spinal segments.
Sarah’s theory is that this process is reversible if you regularly take steps to decompress your spine, and this is where the back block — coupled with the appeasing exercise I described before — comes in.