26 Oct The Three Pillars to Resolve Your Muscle and Joint Pain
by Dr. Matt Fontaine
“THE MOST COMMON PATTERN OF MOVEMENT DYSFUNCTION WE SEE IN RUNNERS AND ATHLETES IN GENERAL IS POOR MOVEMENT, A LACK OF STABILITY & MOBILITY AND MOTOR CONTROL, RESULTING IN REPETITIVE MOTION INJURIES AND JOINT PAIN SYNDROMES” -DR. MATT FONTAINE
Millions of people suffer chronic musculoskeletal pain. Often they seek out many doctors for help all to no avail. These patients need an integrative approach. And it all starts with an accurate diagnosis of the problem. For most, there are problems with the joints, soft tissues and movement patterns. The key to effectively resolving many acute and chronic muscle and joint pain syndromes that plague so many is to incorporate ALL the key ingredients. Like baking a cake, leaving out one or more key ingredients results in a poor outcome. Like eggs, flour, and butter, here are the 3 Pillars for a highly effective treatment approach to resolving your pain. Be sure your manual medicine doctor incorporates all three.
Pillar 1. Joint Manipulation
Joint manipulation to the spine and extremities is vital to ensure proper joint mobility and optimal function of the nervous system.
Pillar 2. Soft Tissue Manual Therapy
“Hands On” manual therapy is a must. This includes Active Release Techniques, Instrument assisted soft tissue manipulative therapy.
Pillar 3. Corrective Exercise Rehab
I often tell my patients, “It is important to know that rehab exercises are vital to stabilize the changes made during manual therapy” . They are important to help retrain proper motor control. But make no mistake, by themselves they CANNOT and DO NOT make substantial and sustainable changes to joint and soft tissue dysfunction. Ever tried to stretch a string with a knot tied in it? It just gets tighter. That’s why manual therapy treatments such as Active Release are essential to release “glued down” tissues.
If you can’t properly move into a full and “PAIN FREE” range of motion. That’s where manipulation comes in. Pain always indicates dysfunction and tissue damage. Just because a pain may go away during exercise doesn’t lesson the importance of the pain signal. Exercise and movement should not hurt. Period.
The best practices and physicians, whether working with triathletes, Crossfit athletes, or weekend warrior, understand the importance of this proper sequence.
1. Treat acute symptoms: Reduce pain and inflammation. Anti-inflammatories can be helpful, and many natural anti-inflammatories can reduce pain and swelling with less side effects. Advanced technological advances light Deep Tissue Laser Therapy can speed healing at the cellular level. Rest, ICE, Compression and Elevation(RICE), and active rest are all essential in an acute stage.
2. Manipulate/mobilize fixated/ compressed and misaligned joints. This is often essential to reduce nerve irritation which may be causing muscle weakness and or pain.
3. Release overactive muscles with Active Release Techniques. Learn more about overactive muscles here. Learn How the Body Forms Scar Tissue from Injury and Repetitive Motion More about Soft Tissue Injuries
4. Improve motor control: rehab tracks( a series of exercise progressions) are prescribed which focus on retraining the ability to activate muscles for joint stability.
5. Increase speed of contraction: Moving from stable to labile surfaces(BOSU, stability balls, Airex foam pads, balance work) further challenges the patient/athlete to optimize proper body movement.
6. Improve mass movements for a full return to sport.