We have all been there – experiencing that little bit of niggling pain which turns out to be more than just a slight discomfort. Let’s call it what it is – an injury.
Injuries are an inevitable part of training – it is how we deal with them that makes a difference.
Taking steps to move safely and avoid injuries in the first instance is of course essential. However injuries will still happen.
It could be that you have picked something up in slightly the wrong way and strained your shoulder. Or maybe you have been running really fast and then bang, there goes your hamstring. Now your leg is left feeling very tight due to the hamstring being pulled it a bit too hard.
When incidents like these occur, it is easy to think. “I don’t want to move, I don’t want to be running around and exercising and doing something that is going to cause more pain, so I’m going to rest until it feels completely better.”
This line of thought is understandable and there is some truth in it – you don’t want to overdo it and injure yourself further. However, the problem is that when you are resting completely and not moving. The muscle fibres in the injured part of your body start to mesh up differently, resulting in pain occurring later. Starting to move again, it will hurt anyway as the area has not been reworked to move nice and smoothly.
This is where seeking the assistance of another health professional can be beneficial to the recovery of your injury.
Choosing the right health professional will allow you to safely get moving again. They can ensure that the injury, which is incorrectly meshed together, is nice and smooth in preparation of movement. Meaning there is not as much resistance or pain when you go to start moving again. This does not even necessarily mean exercise – it could simply be getting up off the couch or lifting something.
Okay Makes Sense…. But Who Are These Health Professionals??
I hear you ask! What are the different types of health professionals who can help? What exactly do they do? Where do I find them? Where do I start?!
Well there is an array of health professionals out there who can help and they all specialise in different areas. Let’s start by listing just a few of these with a brief description of what they do.
Physiotherapist – A physiotherapist works more with your body and your muscular structure – so manipulation, strengthening exercise, stretching exercises. They tend to focus more on one specific area, the area that you are having pain with.
Chiropractor – A chiropractor is a similar field but they work more on the framework and our bone structure, our joints / spine. Manipulating how our body moves to help release the tension in our body.
Osteopath – An osteopath is very similar again, working on spinal and joint manipulation but focusing more on the body as a whole rather than a specific area.
Podiatrist – To give an example of a health professional who specialises in a certain body area. A podiatrist works with lower limb structure, particularly feet, and working up towards the middle of our body.
There are plenty more types of health professionals such as massage therapists, Bowen therapists etc, way too many too list. The most suitable one depends on your individual needs. Many of them tend to work along the same lines of manipulation and helping recover our body to relaxed states.
Types of Treatments
There are different types of treatments that each of these health professionals use, many even using similar treatments to others.
As a personal trainer I do not have any official training in any of these treatments so my purpose is not to give professional advice on this. However, to give you an idea of possible treatments I have listed below my understanding of them.
Remember – always seek professional advice before undertaking any treatments.
Ultrasound – This is where a machine is used to create sound waves that produce energy. When these sound waves enter the skin they cause micro vibrations in the cells which in turn improves tissue healing and reduces pain.
Acupuncture – Acupuncture is a treatment which uses dry needles inserted into specific points on the body. Which is believed to help stimulate the central nervous system and in turn help relieve pain and release endorphins. It is a traditional form of Chinese medicine.
Manipulation – Another type of treatment is straight manipulation, so moving our body in certain ways to release the muscles and loosen it up. This type of treatment goes hand-in-hand with massage therapy and Bowen therapy.
Shockwave therapy – Shockwave therapy, or Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy (ESWT), is another type of treatment. It involves sending mechanical low-energy sound waves through the skin which increases blood flow to the injured area. It is an effective treatment for many lower and upper limb conditions.
Laser therapy – Laser therapy is similar to shockwave therapy however using wavelengths and outputs of low-level light instead of sound waves. It is applied directly to the injured area. The body tissue then absorbs the light, and the cells then respond by regenerating.
Hydrotherapy – Hydrotherapy is very similar to the techniques and treatments that are used by an occupational therapist or physiotherapist. The difference being is the movements are done whilst submerged in water which takes away the body weight meaning there is less of a harsh impact.
Mental Impact on Injuries
Some of the time the problem is not just physical but also mental too. You need to step away from that physical side of things and look into your mental headspace.
If you don’t think the issue is purely physical then you should seek assistance from a psychologist or a counsellor. It could be that you are putting up mental barriers that are preventing you from safely moving again. You might be a bit cautious using that shoulder because it just hurts every time you lift something up. Possibly you go to run and you’re thinking, “Oh no, it’s hurting again, my hamstring!”
With the guidance of a professional who focuses on the mental aspect. They can help you work through any negative relationship that you’ve got with movement and exercise. They can break down any fear that you may have and will work with you to positively impact how you see and perceive exercise and movement.
Some techniques they may use to do this, alongside of course discussing things through conversation, include meditation and encouraging journaling.
Where to Find a Suitable Health Professional
A great starting point for finding a suitable health professional is by visiting your doctor. Remember though, they are a GP and do not specialise in particular areas. So the likelihood is that they will refer you to the relevant people who can help you. It could be that you may you need an ultrasound scan and/or MRI scans. Visiting the doctor will help determine this and they can arrange the appropriate action for you.
Other ways you can find health professionals is via recommendations from others, looking online, contacting local practitioners etc. If you have health insurance you may even be eligible for a certain rebates, depending on your plan.
Whatever pathway you take with whichever health professional that you chose, keep in mind that their specific role is to help educate and use their expertise to help you through your recovery process.
It is up to you to be able to continue with what they have shown you in order to see the best results. Any good health professional will give you techniques to use such as stretching and strengthening exercises to continue with.
The initial treatment may be what you needed to get started but it is the maintenance work later on that makes a difference to how you move, whether it is exercise or just with life itself.