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Finding the cause of pain and the importance of Movement

Before Christmas, the light bulb went in the upstairs bathroom of our house. I know, I should have braced you for the shock and horror of that opening line of this electrifying story. Bear with me. Believe it or not, I replaced the bulb. The light worked again.

End of story, end of blog.

Of course not. A month later, one of my house mates had told me the bulb had went again. In fact, it was the third bulb that had went in the same socket. I check the bulb in another room. Sure enough it was gone. However, 3 bulbs going in the one room in the space of two-three months is unusual, I’m sure you will agree. Intriguing huh? So obviously, there was a deeper problem. And I am no electrician so we got one out to the house, got the wiring fixed and we have had no problems with the bulbs since. Unbelievable! (Actually, not 100% accurate, he gave us a used bulb lying around the back of his van which went a month later but the new bulb we bought has worked for the last 6 months. Completely unnecessary information. Back to my point.)

Ok, the above seems like a pointless story. Here's the punchline. When it comes to our bodies, this is our exact approach. We conclude that a pain in our knee, for example, must be a problem with that specific area only. We do exercises that only target the area rather than looking around the area at what caused the problem. A quick post I put up on Instagram for problems with our knees doing a barbell squat, had solutions that did not require our knees to move. Rarely is the cause of the pain the initial, underlying problem (unless you get a direct blunt force trauma to that area). And if we do not fix the root of the problem, our light bulbs are going to continue to blow.

Our body works on a joint by joint theory, the ankles provide mobility, knees, stability, hips mobility, lower back/torso stability etc. When one breaks down, the other has to compensate. The knee needs to be more mobile if there is a loss of mobility in the hips/ankles.

This is why when I am doing one to one personal training, I am spending a lot more time in the initial assessment with the client. Finding out previous histories and how they move. To stick with the knee for now. A knee problem could be due to an initial hip problem, lower back problem or even ankle. The knee provides stability to the body and if there is a mobility issue in the hip or ankle, the knee could over compensate for this and this could lead to injury. 

Personally, I had a lot of hamstring problems in my teens. Had a few tears in them from the age of 10 up when playing football. This lead to a problem in my lower back in my early 20s as I was ill advised on how to recovery properly for my hamstring issues. Which is completely my own fault by the way.  I had lost hip mobility due to my tight and weak hamstrings. My lumbar spine, which should be stable, became more mobile. I can only assume the hamstrings were the initial problem as I was never truly assessed.  

 Performance Pyramid: Movement is the foundation. We need stability and mobility in the right areas before we can advance

Performance Pyramid: Movement is the foundation. We need stability and mobility in the right areas before we can advance

At the end of the day, yes, we should be training to get fitter and stronger. But our main goals, first and foremost should be to move freely, pain free and be healthy. Movement is the foundation before we add stress on the body to get fitter and stronger.

I’ve added a lot more mobility exercises into my trainings over the past year or so. Here is an example of a mobility style warm up.

And if you are interested in moving better while getting stronger and fitter the right way, here is more details on my initial assessments and Personal Training Systems

However, if you are in true pain day to day and it's only getting worse, you should go for a proper check up before visiting any PT.