Most of us are reactionary when it comes to our health, meaning we do not do much
to prevent issues before they arise. That said, a typical run of the mill health checkup
usually entails, blood pressure, height, weight, a quick listen to the heart and lungs,
maybe a blood test, and if all checks out normal, you are sent off with your badge of
health. When we think of our health the first thing that comes to mind is what is
happening on the insides: heart, lungs, eyes, ears, liver, etc. Of course we want these
systems working well and for most of us, they do. They get the job done.
However, one aspect of health that most people do not consider is how we move.
Movement is necessary for life, but if you move incorrectly, in time, you begin
to have aches and pains. Move fast or play sports you compound the issue even
more and likely speed up the progression of injury.
It is ten days until your big race or competition and you find yourself injured.
Sound familiar? Or perhap you are the person who is perpetually battling something.
But what if you could predict your injuries or better yet, prevent them altogether?
That would be great, right? Did you know that you were injured before you had pain?
As a chiropractor, I work with people in pain with the end goal of resolving it. But in
reality, I would like to prevent the pain in the first place. You may think, if no one had
pain, then I would not have a job. I’m not too worried because everyone moves
While I can’t claim to keep all injuries at bay, outside of traumatic events, I do think
that nearly all injuries can be prevented. A reasonable training plan is one component,
but even more important is how you move and what you do on a daily basis. How you
walk, drive, work, sleep, sit, household chores, even text messaging, can all be the
true source of your injury. Texting while driving, that can lead to death. You’re on
your own on that one.
Our bodies are amazing adaptors and for good reason. If we could not adapt we would
not survive, the human race would have been long extinct. Injuries cause us to adapt,
too. Let’s look at an ankle sprain. First of all they hurt, which is no fun, and they injure
structures in and around your ankle and foot and because of that, you cannot put all of
your weight on it, so you limp. But what if your ability to walk absolutely required that
both of your ankles did not hurt? If this were the case you would not be able to walk.
Bummer. Thankfully, however, the body adapts and learns to deal with the pain and
allows you the suboptimal ability to get around. Good, right? Yes and no. Yes, because
if all ankle sprains took us out until it no longer hurt nearly everyone would have been
incapacitated at one time or another. And no, the limping is not good, because while you
are limping you are creating abnormal movement elsewhere and you are also teaching
the body a new way to walk and that new way can eventually start to feel normal so when
you are healed, it becomes difficult to walk correctly again. Sounds crazy, but it happens
all the time. One more thought to keep in mind is this: the number one predictor of injury
is previous injury. I bet you have sprained your ankle more than once?
What I do in my office is take a full assessment of how you stand in place and then how
you move. I watch specific basic movements, such as squatting, bending over and lifting
your arms overhead. With just those three basic movements (I look at more) I can glean
a lot of information about potential “hidden” dysfunction, that in time, will likely lead to
injury. Rotator cuff injuries, carpal tunnel, hip pain and back pain are more often than not
due to improper repetitive motion, not because you are old, out of shape, blah, blah. I’ve
heard it all. The beauty of discovering hidden dysfunction is that I can give you the proper
guidance to correct them, therefore preventing or healing injuries.
That right there is preventative healthcare. Prevent pain. Pain is the main reason we seek
out care and take too much ibuprofen, have unnecessary surgeries and stop our favorite
activities. So why not prevent them in the first place? You change the oil in your car and
get the required maintenance performed otherwise you are looking at a very expensive
problem. Knee surgery is pretty darn expensive, too, and leaves you with long lasting
problems. The body requires maintenance as well.
Dr. Megan Zetter
Ultra Chiropractic & Rehab
NW Portland, OR