If you're a sports fan, odds are you've experienced the secondhand pain of a favorite athlete who suffers from what I like to call "serial injury syndrome." Serially injured athletes seem to be made of glass — one wrong move and they shatter. In Chicago, this has been Derrick Rose. What began with a toe injury and five missed games eventually became an ACL tear, two meniscus tears, and more than 100 missed games. The question we're all left asking is why can't these players get better?
The answer lies in the way the initial injuries are treated. To the untrained eye, many of the initial injuries you see in athletes seem out of the blue. I can't tell you how many times I've heard someone say they threw their back out just walking down the street. The truth is that injuries are symptoms of imbalances in the body.
While the initial injury may have been treated, I've found that the underlying causes of that injury are often left largely unaddressed. Lets take an ulnar collateral ligament tear — the injury that leads baseball pitchers to get Tommy John surgery. While this is a first step in treating the injury, it does not correct the reason the ligament tore in the first place.
Pitchers get tight in their shoulder and stop stabilizing properly in their torso. Now the body is not working efficiently as a whole, and the elbow will bear the brunt of this disconnection. Unfortunately, instead of addressing this imbalance by releasing the overly tight muscle and activating the unused tissue, they compensate to keep throwing until they break.
Likewise, we get hurt because our body can't continue to absorb the force we place upon it in an imbalanced way. We are meant to move a certain way, and the further we get away from the intended designed use of our bodies, the greater the chance of injury. Our muscles are the first line of defense, and when that defense fails, then the bones, ligaments, and other soft tissue become subject to injury.
There are warning signs before major injury. Pitchers may have had shoulder issues before the UCL tears. Stephen Strausberg had shoulder tightness, and tightness is a precursor to injury. Other athletes have had back pain before they have knee issues. Rajon Rondo and Tracy McGrady both had back troubles before they had knee issues. Then the injuries snowball, and athlete's become known as injury prone.
The bottom line is that when we treat the physical body, we are often chasing symptoms instead of investigating the true cause of injury. Serial injuries continue to happen in athletes and regular people because the body is not reset correctly. We need to ask why we're injured more often. Because if we don't, we risk the continued strain of injury and compensation on an imbalanced body.
With that in mind, here are three of the most common injuries I see in regular folks and how you can fix the imbalances that cause them.