One of the more common questions I receive from clients is “do I need to come in for treatment every once in a while to keep this injury at bay”. While this is a very loaded question when it comes to business for the chiropractic, physical therapy and massage world, there is some validity to what is called maintenance/wellness care. The challenge is to give an honest assessment because some people need maintenance care and some don’t. Those that don’t really need maintenance care are those that maintain low stress, have variety in their workouts, plan recovery time, eat well, and have other avenues for stress relief. Those that benefit from maintenance care (which is soft tissue treatment, functional exams and chiropractic adjustments) typically have a busy work life, kid/spousal responsibilities, and have a high desire for challenging exercise to help relieve stress. This helps explain the difference between active care versus injury care.
Injury care is when you first present with pain or dysfunction that affects your everyday life activities. This is when you go through an evaluation, determine a diagnosis, and present a reasonable treatment plan with an end goal in mind of returning to full participation pain free. Where the active care come into play determines your level of activity and lifestyle. For example, if you are a fitness enthusiast and workout heavily 5-7 days a week, some form of active care should be part of your plan for a healthy lifestyle. Even professional athletes make time for active care because they know going full steam all the time is going to eventually lead to minor injuries – when left unchecked – will turn into major injuries. Now these people have millions of dollars at stake so it seems more obvious that they would seek chiropractic, active release, hawkgrips, acupuncture, massage, yoga, cryotherapy, etc.
However, I would argue that it is MORE important for the everyday person to seek active care. My basis for this argument is that your everyday person has a job, spouse, kids, animals, etc. While these are all great and wonderful things, we can all agree that an active lifestyle isn’t just to look good but it is an outlet for stress. People with loads of responsibilities tend to push and push at a high level without a thought of recovery and/or maintenance active care until they are already injured. Once they are injured, the outlet (exercise) is decreased and/or shut down. Individuals are now at a loss on how to manage their stress. They start to hear things like yoga and meditation can help, but if you are someone who needs to feel that after effect of a hard workout, yoga and meditation won’t cut it.
I find it very difficult to broach this topic with people because of the stigma placed on preventative care. The key is balance and proper assessment. Electing to have functional check-ups (which can be but are not limited to a squatting assessment, shoulder mobility assessment, hip mobility assessment) as well as soft tissue work and chiropractic adjustments can help maintain proper body mechanics and help the patient see some dysfunctions before they become injuries. If you are someone who continues to push yourself and needs to workout, maintenance visits can help prevent injuries. This in turn can prevent you from having to shutdown exercise which can help you maintain your outlet for stress. Being able to continue to work out also helps maintain our social networks for accountability.
In conclusion, it is of my opinion that maintenance care in the form of soft tissue treatments, functional assessments and chiropractic care can help prevent injuries and help an active individual continue to enjoy their exercising habits in absence of pain.