Why Injuries Happen

How those little niggles can turn into big problems and what you can do about it.

If you are reading this then you no doubt have at least one experience of hurting yourself and wondering “How did this happen? All I did was….” (put in here your own seemingly trivial activity that you have done many times before, like get out of bed or go for a jog or hit a golf ball etc).

So why did you hurt yourself doing something so minor? Why does it keep happening even when you have rested it? What can you do to stop it happening again?

To understand the answers to these questions you need to have a little understanding of an engineering concept, load and capacity. In this case load is the amount of force/stress/strain you are putting on an object, like your back, shoulder or knee. Capacity is essentially the strength of an object, or how much load it can take. In the case of your body it is how strong and healthy it is.

Injuries to the musclo-skeletal system (muscle, bones, joints, and ligaments) only occur when the load you are putting on your body is too much for its’ capacity. This can happen in several ways.

The most obvious way is traumatic injury. This could be a car accident, falling off your bike or down steps or any number of things like that. The force of the impact is just too much load for your body to handle and things tear or break. It doesn’t matter how strong or healthy you are, if the impact load exceeds your body’s capacity you are going to hurt something. This is when you go to hospital. When you get out, we can help get you moving better.

However, the most common way is overuse. Overuse can be because you have been training hard to get fit and feel good or for the city to surf fun run you just signed up for. When you don’t give yourself enough time between heavy exercise days, the muscles, joints and ligaments can’t recover fast enough and you end up causing damage. This damage reduces the strength (capacity) of the tissue and then it doesn’t take much load for you to end up hurt.

Overuse can also be because of your work. Sitting in front of a computer puts an enormous load on your back and neck. This will also cause damage to the muscles, joints and ligaments greatly reducing the load required to hurt yourself. Obviously damaged tissue is weaker than healthy tissue and then all it takes is one quick movement. This is main reason people come to see me, and honestly it is because they sit too much.

How can you stop this from happening? The first and most obvious way is to reduce the load. Your body responds better to constant gentle movement than it does to sitting still. Getting up and walking every 20-30 minutes will make a huge difference, greatly reducing the load on your back and neck and giving you some room for that after (or before) work work-out.

If you have already injured yourself then you need to give your body adequate time to recover. This is more than just one night off, it is however long it takes for your body to repair the damage you have done. This can be a couple of days to a couple weeks or months depending on how bad it is.

And if that hasn’t worked then you need treatment. Effective treatment removes the dysfunction and increases your body’s capacity. This allows you to do more, feel better and recover faster. We use a thorough assessment and analysis system that lets us know what is wrong and when you are ready to get back to doing whatever it is you want to do.

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