Could nothing REALLY be the cause of your pain?
We are all perfect right? At least, I’m pretty sure I am. We do everything right and couldn’t possibly be doing anything wrong, especially when it comes to our bodies. We eat all the right foods, drink plenty of water, get enough sleep, meditate, exercise and have a positive outlook on the world. Right? We are all doing nothing to cause our pain and injuries. Well, that is correct, we may think we are doing nothing but as we will see in this article there is more to nothing than first meets the eye.
A common thing we hear in clinic is that clients have done “nothing” and now they are in pain. So we decided to take a look at this nothing, to see just how dangerous it is. You see it must be significant if it is causing so many injuries and pain. Whilst we are being a bit cheeky here with this article the point really is that there is no such thing as nothing. Even if you feel you are doing nothing to cause your pain or tightness, there will be something (including nothing) that has caused it. Whether it is a lack of movement, sleeping position, posture, repetitive tasks, lifestyle , etc.
N - nothing
O - overuse
T - training
H - habits
I - inclination
N - nourishment
G - goals
Nothing - if you are literally doing nothing all the time, then this could be part of the problem. To state the obvious. Without movement muscles and joints can tighten up and can become less lubricated and healthy. When we move, blood is pumped through our muscles which helps to bring new nutrients to them and also flush out any by products. Movement also lubricates the joints and fascia in the body. Synovial joints (most joints in the body) stay lubricated through movement. So if you don't move then the joints have less lubrication and this can lead to joint degeneration and pain. As they say “motion is the lotion”. Lymphatic fluid also needs movement to function, so without movement our lymphatic system, which is basically part of our immune system and our filtration system, becomes sluggish and we can end up with a compromised immune system, swelling or poor circulation. Movement is the key way our body stays warm. Muscles generate heat in our body. So instead of reaching for another puffy jacket in winter, why not do some squats or push ups to get the blood flowing and the temperature rising in the body.
Overuse - What do you do a lot? Maybe even too much? Sitting at the computer? Using a keyboard? Grinding your teeth? These things may seem innocuous but over time these repetitive tasks and postures can lead to chronically tightened muscles and fascia as well as restricted joints. Once you are at this point it can be really hard to change the soft tissues and make a difference. This is why you will have a treatment and then a few weeks later feel the tension coming back. Regular treatment is the key here to prevent this tension building back up.
Training - what are you doing in your training or exercise? Do you do the same gym routine you’ve always done? Doing the same thing over and over can overuse muscles, soft tissues and joints. A classic thing we see is shoulder pain in guys who are bench pressing heavy weights. At some point, regardless of proper form, something will give in the shoulder, whether the biceps or supraspinatus (rotator cuff) tendons or the joint capsule.
Or are you pushing your body to the limit for your HIIT class or ultra marathon? Pushing yourself is great to reach goals such as losing weight or achieving goals, but will put massive strains on your body. It is how you maintain your body through this that is key. Good nutrition, hydration, sleep, good technique and regular maintenance through soft tissue work and massage. Putting your body through this kind of intensity is certainly not nothing.
Habits - We all have them. Some are good and some are not so good. Whether it is simple things like poor posture (sitting or standing), sleeping position, grinding your teeth, carrying a heavy bag on one shoulder or more serious things like excessive drinking or smoking, these things will also impact your musculoskeletal health. Breaking a habit can be hard work and involve a lot of mental toughness and staying power to achieve it, but it just may be the trick to ending your chronic pain.
Inclination - I really wanted to put “mindset” here somewhere, but there is no M in NOTHING, so inclination it is. Your inclination to do positive things for your health will have a big impact on your pain levels and activity. Pain is something that is felt in our body, but the way we perceive the pain is very much in our mind. If we have a negative outlook on life then this will have an impact on our pain levels and likelihood to make an effort with your health. A lot of research and focus these days is around pain and how our mindset and patterns affect it. Pain is being seen as a protective mechanism that is helpful at first, but over time can become detrimental. Once the danger has passed and we don't need to be protective any longer our body and mind can still experience pain. We can be holding on to it like an old friend.
Nourishment - Are you nourishing your body/mind? Eating good food, drinking plenty of water, getting lots of sleep, thinking kind thoughts, meditating? Not to say you have to be a Buddha but these things will definitely have an impact on your musculoskeletal pain. If you are not nourishing your body then this could be another (nothing) reason that is contributing to your pain and/or injury. How is your general health, aside from your musculoskeletal health? If you have/suffer from things like high blood pressure, stress, diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome to name a few then this will have an effect on every system in your body, Including the muscles, soft tissues and the joints as well as your ability to cope with pain and injury.
Goals - If you have goals you are more likely to succeed. If you write things down and have a plan then it is much more likely that you will succeed in whatever you do. Without goals we are set up to fail. As they say “fail to plan, plan to fail”. So this is a good time to set some goals on how you could improve something (or nothing) that you may be doing that could be contributing or causing your pain or injury.
So there you have it. You may think you’re doing nothing or nothing new to cause your pain, but as you can see there is a lot in nothing that you may not realise could be the key to your pain and/or injury. Doing nothing for our health will always lead to dysfunction and issues.
As always if you have any questions or comments we’d love to hear from you so please feel free to contact us via email firstname.lastname@example.org or via facebook: muscletherapyaustralia or instagram: muscletherapyaustralia