By Rob Stanborough ~ PT, DPT, MHSc, MTC, CMTPT, FAAOMPT First Coast Rehabilitation
I recently had a patient tell me, “I wish I would have started this long ago.” He’s developed neck and shoulder pain from years of faulty posture. His forward head, neck and shoulder posture has caused years of compensatory movement, muscle imbalances and tissue strain. He is doing well, but it is true, it would have been easier if he had prevented or minimized the faulty posture in the first place. This has become especially true with inactivity and life changes due to COVID.
Our bodies are always adapting to the stresses. Tissues grow and change depending on such forces. Over time, muscles, ligaments and tendons begin to yield to gravity. Some shorten. Others lengthen. Low backs tend to flatten and necks tend to curve as the head moves forward. The result of these imbalances can be painful, putting pressure on discs, nerves and joints. The longer these imbalances remain, the more difficult they are to reverse. Therefore, prevention is better, and easier than correction.
Many folks perform routine maintenance on their cars to prevent breakdown; oil changes and tire inflation/rotation, to name a few. They may even get vaccinated as a child to prevent diseases or most recently for COVID to prevent more serious consequences. But when I start talking about maintaining the health and mechanics of the body (wheels, tires, shocks), or the condition of the cardiovascular system (the engine) or even the nervous system, which controls everything, (even balance), maintenance is often an afterthought.
Physical Therapists call the maintenance of the body ‘Wellness’ – staying “well”. This is often interpreted as exercise and conditioning only. And although those are important components, exercise and conditioning alone may not correct or maintain the mechanical problems needed for movement. They usually fall short of correcting faulty posture or compensatory movement patterns.
The physical and occupational therapists at First Coast Rehab are trained to use manual therapy to make these corrections. We gently push/pull the joints and manipulate and/or stretch the muscle to improve local movements, followed up with exercise to help to lubricate and maintain the correction.
The advantages of prevention vs correction are many. Staying mobile and healthy is easier than trying to get back into shape. Many of us have experienced this firsthand during this season of pandemic. But, as we slowing make our way out of it, it is a great time to kick the tires, get things moving again and start a routine. Get your body moving. Keep your body moving. It can potentially shield you from injury or losing independence.
Lastly, staying mobile and healthy makes you feel better. It can prevent those aches and pains from gaining ground. Correction is always an option but in the long run, prevention is always better. It just requires a plan.
If you feel you have lost mobility, developed aches or pains, or just not able to do what you could pre-COVID, consult your MD and/or physical therapist.
At First Coast Rehabilitation, our musculoskeletal specialist can design a correction and maintenance plan specific for you. Our motto is “One Therapist, One Patient, One Goal and One Plan”, – always – because one plan does not fit all.
Rob Stanborough was one of the first PT’s to be permitted to use DN in FL and doing so since 2017. He has trained others both nationally and internationally since 2010 as a Senior Instructor for Myopain Seminars(www.myopainseminars.com). He is a co-owner of First Coast Rehabilitation (www.firstcoastrehab.com), presented and published about DN and co-author of Myofascial Manipulation: Theory & Application, 3rd ed by Proed Inc.Read previous columns posted on www.firstcoastrehab.com.