PAIN IS MULTIDIMENTIONAL
For a long time, I was high on the “cure-alls” of physical therapy. For example, take the “oh so common” knee pain complaint. I was taught in school that if the quadriceps and hip flexor are short and tight—which is common with our lifestyle of sitting for prolonged periods during the day, there is going to be compression on the knee…and therefore knee pain. So as a trained doctor with my white coat on at Advanced Physical Therapy, the key was to find out WHY those muscles are short and tight, correct the origin of the dysfunction, correct posture, correct mechanics, strengthen the core, strengthen the hip rotators and bam…you have yourself a fixed knee. This approach sounds good in theory and quite frankly it works a good majority of the time. However, sometimes it doesn’t. I could never sleep at night when I stumbled on these cases. To solve these cases, I cracked books and took courses and followed the Harvard research regarding foot placement and mechanics and neuro input through the feet. With those “tough” patients, I would attack this angle…and guess what…sometimes this was the missing link to get the client better. However, addressing mechanics may work most times but not EVERY time…so now what? My journey took a sharp turn with some enlightening insights when I experienced my own pain.
In 2006, I had the privilege to have experienced pain…AND I MEAN PAIN. The pain that cripples you and stops you from working on your feet, literally. (During that point I would work 10-11 hour shifts and would be in agony 4-5 hours into the day). Here’s the background: After running my second marathon, I’d consider myself “in shape”. I broke my goal of the 4 hour marathon with a cool 3:54 finish. I lifted. I did yoga. I thought about what I ate and tried to eat “healthfully.” But slowly after the marathon, my pain progressed. I went to the best docs, the best physical therapists, the best chiropractors, and I passionately wanted them to “fix me” and they couldn’t. So finally, I saw a TOP DOC orthopod who had previously done two ACL repairs on my knees (both due to athletic injuries—field hockey and lacrosse) and he noted a meniscal tear…so finally I breathed a sigh of relief. THAT’S IT!!! Finally, there’s something “wrong” with me that can be fixed!! WHAHOO!!! But man…I wish I knew then what I know now. Just because there’s an abnormality on a radiograph…that doesn’t have to be the origin of your pain.
What I really needed was a full on multidimensional analysis of my myofascial patterns, strengths, weaknesses, and diet. And so I ferociously attacked this quest. I have dived into every anatomy and kinesiology book. I have studied countless theories of myofascial release and trigger point release. I have studied movement patterns and common dysfunctional patterns and I have thrown myself into healing myself so ultimately I can heal others. And slowly but surely, I have become pain free. The final piece has definitely been a largely “anti-inflammatory diet.” And I can now literally bring on my own pain or take it away through what I eat. I have gotten to the point where I have broken my own half marathon PRs so I can truly say that right now I’m stronger after two babies and three knee surgeries than I was out of college. It has taken time and dedication and accountability to others but it can be done.
Please don’t give up if you’ve experienced pain like this. You certainly don’t have to see me…but seek help from a skilled professional. Tell them your goals and don’t stop until you’ve achieved them. Your body is designed to heal and get stronger with age if you indulge it with what it needs. Be well my friends and never stop dreaming to be the best version of yourself!