Is your swing suffering from body pain or limited range of motion?

Every day I see patients that question why their body hurts the way it does. Each one of them has their ideas or conspiracies as to WHY this is the case. Usually, it involves some sort of past injury like a herniated disc, they slept wrong three weeks ago, or just lost flexibility over the years. Often, their main complaint is that it limits their ability to golf, either with the frequency of play or ability level.

I typically ask the question, “what are you doing to make it better?” A classic response is some stretch combination they do before they play. As they begin to describe these stretches, I often find myself scratching my head, discreetly of course… It is apparent that there is a severe lack of education and awareness with the average golfer when it comes to how to prep your body to golf and how to avoid injuries.

To address and alleviate your aches and pains, you need to know what the root cause is. I said CAUSING the pain, not where you feel the pain. When golfers come to see me with lower back pain, rarely is it the case that the lower back causes the pain. A vast majority of the time, you feel the pain because you are compensating in that area. You compensate because you lack in another area of your body. Take the golfer with back pain; they will typically have a rotational limitation in the hips, mid-back, or even the shoulders that forces them to move in their lower back in a way that it is not meant to do. This will cause lower back pain. However, until you improve the hip, mid-back, or shoulder limitation, you will never cure the lower back pain.

It can become tough to know exactly what will make YOU better. This is why I do what I do. I assess in-depth my patient’s abilities from a movement perspective and can give them precisely what they need to improve. I think of it as a “sniper” effect. You could do ten different exercises or stretches, and maybe 2 of them will work (shotgun approach) or learn precisely what your body can and cannot do with the help of a professional. Knowing what is working and focusing on those areas will speed recovery, improve range of motion, and improve your game.

Below are three exercises you can do at home to address the most common limitations I see, mid-back mobility and hip mobility limitations. These exercises are safe to do and will start providing immediate benefits to most golfers. However, it will certainly not get you to reach your potential. If you are interested in improving your rotational power, flexibility, strength, and decreasing your pain, you need to get a detailed assessment and learn exactly what you need to improve.

To watch more videos, visit our YouTube. If you’re experiencing lower back pain or would like help with your swing, we offer free injury assessments at our valley-wide locations. Request an appointment today or give us a call at 480.289.5502.

The Holiday Season is a fun time of year that you get to spend with your family and friends. Holiday preparation begins with festive decorating inside and out, increased time spent shopping, standing, and carrying all of those heavy presents. These activities can lead to aches and pains often in the hips and low back areas.

With the holiday season being a busy time of year, stretching and exercising often gets put on the back burner. Thankfully, these aches and pains can be managed with a few simple daily stretches that only take 5-10 minutes. Also, keep in mind that stretching does not always have to be done in response to pain; it can also prevent the pain.

There are four simple stretches to manage the popular aches and pains associated with the holiday season.

Pectoral Musculature Doorway Stretch

Cooking, cleaning, wrapping presents, and shopping all place us in a position where we are leaning forward with rounded shoulders, which cause tightness in the pectoral musculature.

One way to counteract this tightness is to stretch out your pectoral musculature in a doorway through an exercise called a doorway pec stretch:

  1. Place both hands on each side of a doorway and step into the doorway to feel a stretch along the chest.
  2. Hold this for 15-30 seconds at a time and perform 3 times.

This stretch will help to bring your shoulders back and open your chest.

Pectoral Musculature Doorway Stretch

Piriformis Stretch

With prolonged sitting, standing, and walking, people often report they feel soreness in the “glutes.” Often times the soreness is caused by a tight piriformis.

You can stretch your piriformis while laying on the ground, the couch, or bed:

  1. Lay on your back, with one knee bent up towards your chest.
  2. Place the bent leg’s foot over the other leg.
  3. Place your hands on the bent knee and pull the leg across your body, towards your opposite shoulder, until you feel a stretch in the gluteal region.
  4. Hold the stretch for 15-30 seconds at a time and perform 3 times on both legs.

This stretch can also be performed in a sitting position (see image below).

Piriformis Stretch

Hamstring Stretch

With increased activity, like walking the mall for holiday gifts, tightness is often felt in the back of the legs (hamstrings).

To stretch your hamstrings:

  1. Start by finding a place you can lay on your back, like your bed or a spot on the floor.
  2. Next, place a dog leash or beach towel around one of your feet. While lying on your back and your legs extended straight, use the leash or towel to pull the leg up while keeping the knee as straight as possible.
  3. A stretch should be felt in the back of the leg. Hold for 15-30 seconds and perform 3 times on both legs.

This stretch can also be performed sitting on the side of the bed or couch, see image below.

Hamstring Stretch
Hamstring Stretch

Seated Prayer Stretch

The final stretch is called a seated prayer stretch and it stretches the muscles of the low back.

  1. If comfortable, go into the kneeling yoga pose, child’s pose.
  2. Lean forward so you can place your hands on the floor.
  3. Walk your hands to the left. You should feel a stretch in the low-back musculature on your right side.
  4. Hold for 15-30 seconds and then move to the right side where a stretch should be felt in the left low back region.
  5. Repeat these steps until you’ve done this 3 times on both sides.

Seated Prayer Stretch

If you are unable to get into the kneeling child’s pose position, this lower-back stretch can also be performed standing at a counter:

  1. Lean forward and place both hands on the counter.
  2. Walk your hands to left.
  3. You should feel a stretch in the low-back musculature on your right side.
  4. Hold this for 15-30 seconds and then go to the right side where a stretch should be felt in the left low back region.
  5. Do this 3 times on both sides.

You can also do this stretch by sitting in a chair and placing hands on a table and then sliding the chair back to feel a stretch in the lower back musculature.

If you still feel pain after performing these stretches regularly, make an appointment at one of our physical therapy offices. We’ll provide a tailored exercise and stretching plan to help manage your pain so you can fully enjoy the season.

As we age our balance will decline, and without maintaining a functional level of strength, flexibility, and balance you can become prone to an increased risk of injury like twisting an ankle, tripping or even a fall.

Balance is one of the fundamentals of a healthy, active body. Having a strong sense of balance and awareness to the elements around you can help you react swiftly and prevent injuries and accidents from happening. We are so lucky that Dr. Jonathan Seidberg from our Biltmore clinic specializes in all things balance.

We asked him about his favorite exercises to use with beginners to help improve balance. He recommended his top 3 exercises that you can do just about anywhere!

1.Single Leg Balance:

Balancing on one leg can help improve your strength, stability, and body awareness, all in one exercise. To perform it correctly, stand on a surface, bend one of your knees, and squeeze the buttock of your standing leg.

Be careful that your legs do not touch and try not to hold on to anything with your hands.

2. Ankle Sways:

There are three strategies for balance, and our ankle strategy is the first line of defense against falling. This is a great neuromuscular activation activity to improve your ankle strategy.

Stand with your feet together or with one foot in front of the other (tandem). Slowly, move your weight forward and backwards or side‐to‐side. Be careful not to bend at your hips and only move at your ankles.

3. Standing Hip Abduction:

This is a multifaceted activity that improves your balance and strengthens your gluteus medius, a vital hip muscle necessary for daily mobility.

Stand with your feet together, lift one leg out to the side without touching the ground, then return to your starting position.

Be careful not to lean your torso.

Scale up: You can make any of these exercises more challenging by placing a more pliable object underneath your feet.

Do you need help improving your balance? Schedule a free injury assessment (no referral necessary!) to see how we can help keep you healthy and active.

Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy provides an affordable, individualized, and professionally supervised program designed to build and maintain a functional level of strength, flexibility, and balance. Our highly trained staff is here to properly evaluate and quickly identify your balance concerns giving you the confidence to get you back to doing the things you love.

Jonathan Seidberg PT, DPT

Education – University of Arizona, A.T. Still University

Jonathan is a proud member of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) and the Orthopedic and Sports Therapy Section.

Often you hear stories of athletes looking to improve their core strength in order to reduce injury, boost metabolism, improve balance, and increase flexibility. While you could spend hours in the gym tackling all these goals did you know there is one sure-fire exercise that addresses all of them? Yes, Planking. Planks are one of the most common core exercises and for good reason! You can do planks anywhere, with no equipment, at any fitness level.

While it seems like a basic exercise, nailing down your plank form can be challenging. We asked licensed physical therapist and clinic director of our Glendale clinic, Andrew Songer for some advice on how to hit the perfect plank every time.

Here are his simple tips:

You want your hips in line with your back, core tight, head down, and arms apart.https://foothillsrehab.com/amazing-things-w…n-when-you-plank/

Avoid keeping your arms close, arched or slumped back, head up or bending at the knee.

How do you make sure everything stays in line? One tip is to “tuck your tail” or “pull your buckle up”. These phrases remind you to pull your ab muscles together and tuck your hips under.

For a little help, make sure you do not forget your glutes! Planks are a full-body exercise and engaged glutes will help you keep everything nice and straight.

How to scale:

We get it; planks are hard! If you are having trouble holding a plank on your toes for 15-30 seconds, try going down to your knees, instead. There is no shame in scaling! Form over difficulty, every time.

Little known fact: To make planks harder, keep your arms apart. When you clasp your hands together, you are recruiting your chest, so this substitution takes away from focusing solely on your core.

The best way to stay healthy starts with proper form and prehab to prevent injuries before they happen.

Schedule with Andrew today. No referral necessary.

Want to Be the Best? It Starts Here.

If you are looking for 1:1 or group sports performance training take a look at Foothills Acceleration and Sport Training (FAST). FAST is here to bring your game to the next level, regardless of sport, age, or ability. Driven by results, our Strength and Conditioning coaches work to help everyone, from youth to professional athletes, achieve their goals, both in and out of season. From HIIT to strength training, our individual and concentrated group fitness classes will challenge you—no matter your fitness level.

Find a location near you.

Andrew Songer PT, DPT, Cert. DN

Education – Northern Arizona University

When inflammation occurs in the body, especially in your joints it can cause irritation, wearing down of cartilage, and may even lead to arthritis. Chronic inflammation if left unchecked can have damaging consequences over the long term. But did you know that the foods you eat, the quality of sleep you get, and how much you exercise can all play a role in reducing inflammation? In order to be more dedicated to our wellness goals, we must feed our bodies with the proper nutrients, rest, and exercise in order to fight off the harmful effects inflammation can have on our bodies.

What is inflammation?

The immune system is our body’s main defense system again foreign invaders. It recognizes these invaders and battles to keep all our systems as close to 100% as it can. This is done using the inflammatory process as a defense mechanism. But, just like any fighting soldier needs recovery from the constant attack, so does the immune system. It needs a break from inflammation. Otherwise, it loses the ability to resist and build back immunity.

Chronic (long-lasting) inflammation can rear its ugly head in the form of symptoms that can be all too familiar to many of us: unexplained lingering body pain, sleep disturbances, constant fatigue, weight gain, frequent sickness, and gastrointestinal issues which all can lead to an increase in negative thoughts and feelings diminishing our mental health and leading to depression and/or anxiety.

How to fight against inflammation.

What we nourish our body with has an effect on the inflammation in our bodies. So, what you eat is a good place to start in preventing and/or resetting that chronic inflammation. A good tool to use is called the dietary inflammatory index, or DII. It is an evidence-based index developed by researchers who have tested over 1,900 foods and their components by tracking markers on cells (our building blocks) in the body and overall effect on systemic inflammation.

You can start by going all in and following a strict elimination diet which basically allows you to eat only anti-inflammatory foods for 3+ weeks. Then, slowly adding in food groups that contain inflammatory properties in moderation to analyze the effects you feel.

Anti-inflammatory foods.

Anti-inflammatory foods include: vitamin C such as citrus fruits, strawberries, colored peppers, and potatoes; omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, albacore tuna, and lake trout; flavonols such as apples, berries, onions, kale broccoli; beta-carotene found in orange vegetables; flavones such as eggplants and tomatoes; and isoflavones which are found in soy. There can be some controversy over specific anti-inflammatory foods. Just make sure you listen to how your body feels and responds!

Foods to stay away from.

Inflammatory foods that should be avoided or eaten in moderation include: sugar and high fructose corn syrup, artificial trans fat such as fried foods, margarine, processed baked goods; refined carbohydrates such as any processed food that includes added sugar and flour, bread, pasta, candy; processed meat such as hot dogs, sausage, bacon; and excessive alcohol which is no more than 1-2 standard drinks per day.

It’s more than just anti-inflammatory foods.

Although your dietary intake is a very important factor in reducing inflammation, you can’t rely on this to do all the work. Help that soldier out and add to your army with regular exercise and stress management from a mental aspect. Find something you enjoy such as yoga with meditation, reading outside in fresh air and Vitamin D, or listening to a positive podcast while at the gym.

Just like that and your habits are changing from the inside to out. You’re on your way to meeting your goals with hopefully some extra benefits of better sleep, more energy, and a body feeling 10 years younger!

If your inflammation is slowing you down, contact your nearest Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy to get your move back!

Pain is one of the few common experiences we can all relate to. Everyone has experienced pain at one time or another in their lives. No one enjoys being in pain, but it is a necessary part of helping keep us alive. To gain a deeper understanding of pain we will look at the various parts of the brain that control pain.

Pain is defined as “an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience that is associated with actual or potential tissue damage” which was developed by the International Association for the Study of Pain. Pain is an output from the brain when the brain thinks we are threatened. Tissues (muscles, joints, ligaments, and nerves) are just one input for the brain. The brain receives millions of inputs every second before it determines the output (pain or no pain) and processes them at an incredibly rapid rate, millions per second.

These inputs are messages sent to the spinal cord and brain, letting the brain know about temperature (so you know whether to wear a tank top or winter coat), blood flow (is it time to get up and move?), stress levels (hormones including adrenaline and cortisol), movement (your eyes are moving as you read this), and the immune system (such as when you have the flu). If the brain determines that something is a threat it can make you feel pain even in the absence of tissue damage. Processing pain is much more complicated than just a tissue being damaged, so let’s take a deeper look.

Scientists once thought that when tissues are damaged a special “pain center” in our brain lights up telling us we have pain and when tissues are healed this area turns off. We now know through brain scans that when we experience pain, nine areas of our brain light up, we call this our neuromatrix. Everyone experiences pain differently, my pain is different from your pain and your pain is different than your neighbor’s pain but we all have the same nine areas light up, they just light up differently. So what are the nine areas, what are they responsible for, and most importantly why does the neuromatrix matter?

  1. Premotor/Motor Cortex – organizes and prepares us for movement
  2. Cingulate Cortex – concentration and focus
  3. Prefrontal Cortex – problem solving and memory
  4. Amygdala – fear and addiction
  5. Sensory Cortex – sensory discrimination
  6. Hypothalamus/Thalamus – response to stress and motivation
  7. Cerebellum – movement and cognition
  8. Hippocampus – memory and fear conditioning
  9. Spinal Cord – first stop to process information from peripheral inputs (tissues) before sending the info up to the brain

Understanding that there are several areas of the brain that control pain is important. We now know that these nine areas do not just light up together when we experience pain but also communicate with each other when we experience other events such as memories and coordinating movement. This helps explain why when some people experience pain for prolonged periods they report difficulty concentrating at work, feel more stress, have a harder time completing physical activities, or can experience pain without tissue damage.

The good news: we can change the way that our brains light up through treatment interventions used in physical therapy. Education, manual therapy, trigger point dry needling, physical activity, and modalities are all ways that physical therapists can modify brain inputs to help people experience less pain and increase our ability to perform functional activities.

If you’re in pain, don’t wait any longer! Click here to make an appointment at your nearest clinic.

In Health,

Ted Carter, PT, DPT, OCS, TPS, CSCS, Cert. DN

Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy

 

Phoenix is known to have some of the best weather for winter golfing. That’s why we host the Waste Management tour every year. Have you asked yourself what it takes to hit the ball like the pros? Or what can you do to improve your golf game?

Being a TPI (Titleist Performance Institute-Medical Level I) certified trainer, we can help improve your game. TPI does not believe in one perfect swing, however an infinite number of swing styles.

The most important aspect of a golf swing is having a healthy and efficient body movement.

Limited rotation of the lower body, poor ankle mobility, poor trunk strength and/or limited shoulder mobility can all lead to an inefficient swing which then increase your risk for injury. Mobility and stability are not only important to improve your health and daily function, but also allow you to be efficient during your golf game.

Here are some important stats for amateur golfers out there:

  • 64.3% lose their posture during their golf swing which can lead to lower back pain.
  • 38.5% have a reverse spine angle which leads to back pain.
  • 31.4% of players slide during their golf swing.
  • 35.6% have a “chicken wing” during their golf swing.

Now, how do us amateurs compare to the pros?

  • 75.8% of pros have a controlled and smooth movement of the pelvis during a tilt test compared to 28% of amateurs.
  • 81.1% of pros have controlled pelvic rotation compared to 58% of amateurs.
  • 82.4% of pros can perform a forward toe touch test compared to 57%.

These movement impairments can lead to everything from upper and lower back pain, shoulder pain, hip and knee pain in addition to a poor golf game.

We may never be able to play on the PGA Tour but we can dominate the weekends by utilizing proper technique.

We can help you by performing a movement screen, teach you proper body mechanics, proper muscle recruitment and develop a quality strengthening/mobility program for you to maximize efficiency and a healthy swing to improve your golf game. Make an appointment today at our Tempe clinic!

Now let’s get out there, enjoy the weather and make some birdies!

Source: Titleist Performance Institute. 4033 Avenida de la Plata, Oceanside, CA 92056

Running a marathon is an amazing achievement for any level of runner. Many people embark on this journey to one day cross that finish line, but not everyone will get there. An injury mid-training is a common occurrence that will impede your ability to compete in a marathon. Injuries can be frustrating and sometimes life altering depending on the severity of it. Following key tips throughout your training can be the difference between crossing the finish line and coming up short.

Preventing an injury has many advantages and benefits; it will be incredibly rewarding in the end. Here are a few injury prevention tips to follow during your training:

Warm-Ups and Cool Downs
It is crucial to properly warm up before your run and cool down following your run. This helps aid your body in preparing for the task in front of you and for recovering afterwards. If you don’t warm up, you risk some serious muscle and ligament strains. A solid 5-minute warm up can do your body wonders. Cooling down is also very important. If you stop too fast while your heart is working overtime, you could get sick or even faint. Also, stretching after running will reduce the buildup of lactic acid which aids in recovery time.

Purchasing the Correct Shoes
Purchasing the correct running shoe will also help with injury prevention for marathon runners. Your shoe size should be one size bigger from your normal shoe size. This is due to your foot swelling while you run. Many shoe stores offer a gait analysis program to help fit you into the proper style fit for your foot and running needs.

Nutrition
Proper nutrition is very important to maintain throughout your training. Eating well and plenty of food helps your body absorb the proper nutrients and vitamins it needs to keep up with your training volume. Failure to incorporate proper nutrition will leave you susceptible to fatigue, poor performance, stress fractures and low bone density which can lead to injury.

Exercises and Stretches
Pre-running exercises such as dynamic stretching, thera-band work, leg swings and hip openers help turn your “muscles on” and prepare them for the run ahead of you. These exercises can also help to prevent muscle strains.

Strength Training
Keep your body in top physical running peak with added strength training. This helps to improve form and eliminates muscle imbalances. It also helps brace your body and joints for impact with each stride and step. Avoiding over-training is key in injury prevention.

Training Program
Following a training program or hiring a running coach can help you find the proper mileage pace and overall help to regulate your training regime. If you’re looking for a place to start, Hal Higdon offers many programs online, from beginner to advanced runners. A training program will keep you on track to cross the finish line.

Cross Training
Cross training is also vital in training for a marathon. Biking or swimming helps you maintain your cardiovascular fitness while strengthening other muscle groups involved in running. If you don’t have access to weights for strength training, cross training can compensate for that.

These injury prevention tips are meant to help prepare your body for running a marathon. Unfortunately, we cannot prevent every injury. If you do encounter an injury throughout your training, the physical therapists at Foothills Sports Medicine are ready and willing to get you back on your feet and back on that training road. With locations all over the valley, there is one near you!

“New year, new you” is a phrase far too generic and cliché.  At this point in the year, many of us have already found a way to sabotage our health goals for the New Year. In order to be more dedicated to our health goals, lets first understand one of the most the important building blocks of our body and mind, and not just to get quick results. So, let’s focus on the immune system and the anti-inflammatory diet.

What is inflammation?

The immune system is our body’s main defense system again foreign invaders. It recognizes these invaders and battles to keep all our systems as close to 100% as it can. This is done using the inflammatory process as a defense mechanism. But, just like any fighting soldier needs recovery from constant attack, so does the immune system. It needs a break from inflammation. Otherwise it loses the ability to resist and build back immunity.

Chronic (long lasting), inflammation can rear its ugly head in the form of symptoms that can be all too familiar to many of us: unexplained lingering body pain, sleep disturbances, constant fatigue, weight gain, frequent sickness, and gastrointestinal issues which all can lead to an increase in negative thoughts and feelings diminishing our mental health and leading to depression and/or anxiety.

How to fight against inflammation.

What we nourish our body with has an effect on the inflammation in our bodies. So, what you eat is a good place to start in preventing and/or resetting that chronic inflammation. A good tool to use is called the dietary inflammatory index, or DII. It is an evidence-based index developed by researchers who have tested over 1,900 foods and their components by tracking markers on cells (our building blocks) in the body and overall affect on systemic inflammation.

You can start by going all in and following a strict elimination diet which basically allows you to eat only anti-inflammatory foods for 3+ weeks. Then, slowly adding in food groups that contain inflammatory properties in moderation to analyze the affects you feel.

Anti-inflammatory foods.

Anti-inflammatory foods include: vitamin C such as citrus fruits, strawberries, colored peppers, and potatoes; omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, albacore tune, and lake trout; flavonols such as apples, berries, onions, kale broccoli; beta-carotene found in orange vegetables; flavones such as eggplants and tomatoes; and isoflavones which is found in soy. There can be some controversy over specific anti-inflammatory foods. Just make sure you listen to how your body feels and responds!

Foods to stay away from.

Inflammatory foods that should be avoided or eaten in moderation include: sugar and high fructose corn syrup, artificial trans fat such as fried foods, margarine, processed baked goods; refined carbohydrates such as any processed food that includes added sugar and flour, bread, pasta, candy; processed meat such as hot dogs, sausage, bacon; and excessive alcohol which is no more than 1-2 standard drinks per day.

It’s more than just anti-inflammatory foods.

Although your dietary intake is a very important factor in reducing inflammation, you can’t rely on this to do all the work. Help that soldier out and add to your army with regular exercise and stress management from a mental aspect. Find something you enjoy such as yoga with meditation, reading outside in fresh air and Vitamin D, or listening to a positive podcast while at the gym.

Just like that and your habits are changing from the inside to out. You’re on your way to meeting your goals with hopefully some extra benefits of better sleep, more energy, and a body feeling 10 years younger!

If you’re inflammation is slowing you down, contact your nearest Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy to get your move back!

Let’s face it, no one likes to be in pain. However, people that do not experience pain usually pass away at an early age. This is because they are unable to protect themselves from substantial tissue injury that they are unaware of. Pain is the number one reason why people visit healthcare providers, especially physical therapists. The pain is a complex biopsychosocial experience which means that tissues (biology), cognitive beliefs (psychological), and context (social) of when an injury (or perceived injury) occurs all play a role together to determine if we will experience pain or not. This makes pain a much more complex process than most people, including healthcare providers, understand.

The most widely accepted definition of pain is “an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience that is associated with actual or potential tissue damage or described in such terms” which was developed by the International Association for the Study of Pain. The purpose of this article is to educate people on pain experience and dispel some common myths about pain.

Myth 1: Pain only occurs when you are injured.

How many times have you finished yard work or gardening and gone inside to get something cold to drink? Have you noticed several cuts and scratches on your arms and legs? Have you ever woken up and noticed a bruise somewhere on your arm and don’t remember how it got there? These are both examples that your body had tissue damage yet you didn’t have any pain.

Let me take this one step further…there have been several studies where people who are asymptomatic (no pain or symptoms) have undergone medical imaging (X-rays, MRIs, CT Scans). A lot of the results would surprise you, such as 40% of people have a bulging disc on the MRI, low back degeneration starts in people’s ’20s, and one in four people had meniscus degeneration. When they were scanned five years later 90% had not changed. Remember, all these people with positive imaging findings had no pain or symptoms.

Myth 2: Chronic pain means that an injury hasn’t healed properly.

Almost every tissue in the body will heal within six to twelve months. There are no special pain fibers in your body contrary to popular belief and this has been studied extensively. More accurately, we have nociceptors, which are special nerve fibers that send information from tissues to the spinal cord and up to the brain if the spinal cord thinks the brain needs to made aware. Nociceptors can send messages in the absence of tissue damage which can be interpreted as danger messages by the spinal cord and brain which can give us the experience of pain even though the tissues are normal or have healed. Confusing right? This is one reason why long after tissues have healed people can still experience pain.

Myth 3: The body tells the brain when it is in pain.

Even though understanding the complexity of pain can be difficult, the one basic concept is that pain is simply an output by the brain which comes from thousands of various inputs. Just a few of these inputs include: movement, stress, thoughts, temperature, blood flow, and your immune system. Remember those nociceptors that we just talked about? Studies have shown that decreased blood flow to tissues will cause increased nociceptive activity. This doesn’t mean pain. Think about how long you’ve been sitting in your chair reading this article, have you shifted your body position at all? Leaned forward or backward in your chair? Crossed one leg over the other? The nociceptors in your body told you to move around because they weren’t getting enough blood flow, you probably didn’t even notice that you changed positions until right now.

Pain is complex and affects each of us differently.

The one constant is knowing more about pain can help decrease our experience of it. Pain is an output from the brain to protect us from actual or potential damage and can be modulated by our body based on the context of the situation when we experience it. This is why we can have tissue damage without feeling pain and we can feel pain when the tissues are completely normal. The nervous system is highly plastic which means that it can make adaptations, both positive and negative, extremely quickly. This means there is a lot of hope for people who experience chronic pain in the absence of tissue damage.

To end I want to leave you with a few fun facts about the nervous system.

  • The body has 45 miles of nerves
  • The brain uses 20% of the oxygen in our body
  • Your brain has about 100 billion neurons
  • The average number of thoughts by a person per day is 70,000 (so think happy thoughts!)

For further questions feel free to get in contact with a Foothills Sports Medicine physical therapist near you!