WHY DOES MY PAIN COME BACK?
Just because your back pain is gone and you’re able to move pain-free again, does not mean it will stay that way if you don’t make necessary changes to your lifestyle. There could be positions or daily habits that need to be changed. You will be fighting your “body memory”(click for article on neuro-connections).
For most people, these injuries are compounded over time. Like any good or bad habit, the body develops neurotransmitters and neuro-connections in the brain for habits that help us navigate our environment with ease and less stress. Positive changes made in your physical fitness, PT or Chiropractic session typically won’t translate to long term gains at first.
Proprioceptors – Enforcing “The Body Memory”
In our body there are nerve endings in our joints, muscles, ligaments and tendons that do two important jobs. We call these nerve endings proprioceptors and their job is:
1. Keeping the joint or soft tissue in its normal static position.
2. Helping with alignment, tensions and excitability in our joints and soft tissues to help with normal movement production and control patterns and give us body awareness in our environment.
Proprioceptors help to keep our body in its normal positions and tensions. They help our body know how to move. When our body is healthy, in good symmetry, these proprioceptors are our good friends. If we knock something out of our normal position, like changing an alignment in our spine, or straining a muscle (from overtraining), then the proprioceptors create a reaction to try to return us back to our normal position where we feel good again.
This is why, when we strain ourselves, we often feel back to “normal” within a couple of days.
However, if our body has had some areas of abnormal tightness or misalignment of joints for a long period of time, then our body will then call the new presentation its new “normal”. See Upper Cross Syndrome and Lower Cross Syndrome for example.
Our nerve endings will adapt to being in this abnormal position. This condition will lead to compensations and other problems. Over a period of time these compensations will become our “normal” movements and postures as well. Our proprioceptors now have a new set of instructions.
Why is this a problem?
Any positive change that we try to make to the body’s alignment, tension and movement patterns will be fought by your proprioceptor’s abnormal instructions. You may have received the perfect treatment – aligning the joints in the body and relaxing tight muscles- but in a few days you could be back to where you started due to your new altered proprioceptive feedback.
How Do I Win?
You win by first aligning everything in its neutral position. This means sitting with proper posture at your desk, not sloughing watching TV, lifting with good form. The more time the body spends in its new and better position the more these proprioceptors will be sending information to your central nervous system to keep the positive gains from your treatment.
By doing this, you are retraining the proprioceptors to return everything to their true and correct “normal” positions. Once you are in balance it should take less work to maintain.
Bucks Sports chiropractic can advise you on correct posture for work, sport and daily living with education, manual treatment and exercises. Pilates and mobility drills are an excellent way of resetting your proprioceptive awareness and improving your awareness of achieving and maintaining body neutral positions.
Dr. Derek Gearhart