In our practice, we get asked all the time “why do I have pain TODAY? I didn’t have pain YESTERDAY!”. Our answer is almost invariably the same thing every time: “Well, yesterday, you were a day younger with one day less wear and tear!” Now, injuries do not always occur due to age alone. However, the point of our statement is that each and every day of our lives, no matter what we are doing, we are adding more stress onto our bodies and tissues with each activity we perform. Whether our patients are playing a professional sport, CrossFit, or parkour; or doing something more mundane like lifting boxes during a move, yard work, or reaching for a high cabinet, we are adding more insult (READ: scar tissue formation) to the tissue than we had previously. This insult adds up every hour of every day, and eventually can lead to tissue failure if it is not addressed in due time.
This invariable truth was no more evident to me than when I injured my calf over the weekend playing a pickup soccer game. I have played a lot of soccer over the years, and have never once injured my calf. Not during high school, travel, rec league, pickup, or any other of the numerous sports I have played. I had even played soccer less than a week before without any issues at all! How could this have happened? I didn’t have pain YESTERDAY! Admittedly, I am not a kid anymore and am not nearly in the playing shape I was in my glory days. But, as I will describe, the principle of the kinetic chain and scar tissue buildup still applies.
What injury I have had, however, is a hamstring injury to the same leg, which I originally injured when I was 12 years old. Over the years, it has always given me slight stiffness and tightness, but never caused another acute injury. As we have blogged about previously, the kinetic chain in the lower extremity is an amazing machine that needs all parts functioning together. If one part of the chain is dysfunctional, the entire chain is dysfunctional, which predisposes the entire chain to injury, from hip to CALF to toe.
I didn’t know it at the time, but when I decided to play soccer this weekend without any ART or chiropractic work in the previous few weeks (not heeding my own advice, I know), I was setting my leg up to fail. Ever since that hamstring injury, my lower extremity has not been the same. But, when I discovered ART during chiropractic school, it was the only treatment I have ever had that made my leg feel even remotely close to 100% pre-injury.
Utilizing the docs around school and now around our office whenever we have a free minute, I have been able to maintain a healthy lower extremity kinetic chain. However, without my regular treatment, the chain tightened up, caused by the old hamstring injury. Once that occurred, with every step or cut I made during the game, I was adding more insult to the tissues of the entire leg due to the dysfunction of the hamstring. This could have manifested in an acute injury anywhere along the chain, but on that day, it decided it was going to be my calf that took the brunt of it and failed, and I was down for the count.
This is a perfect example of how kinetic chain dysfunction can lead to SEEMINGLY acute injuries which actually manifest from chronic tissue insult and scar tissue buildup, giving you new pain TODAY that you did not have YESTERDAY. We are all getting older, but sometimes it’s not so easy to face the music.
Author: Andrew Gross, DC, ART