Does pain ever just go away?
Updated: Jun 30
Disclaimer: The opinions in this post refer to otherwise healthy bodies. I realize there are medical variables that cause muscular pain and altered movement patterns.
When it comes to movement, the human body is a workhorse and a machine. It will do almost anything we ask of it: another rep, another mile, another hour at the computer.
The human body is resilient. It will usually figure out a way to complete a task even when it lacks the strength or mobility to do it properly (i.e. safely). We can still lift and bend and run even when our joints aren’t functioning properly because our body uses compensation patterns to make up for lack of strength or mobility.
Compensation patterns can be found when a muscle or muscle group isn’t strong enough (or being innervated properly) to move a joint through its full range of motion. They can also form when the joint is restricted, regardless of muscular strength.
Compensation patterns are not sustainable. Eventually, something—usually the weakest link in the kinetic chain--starts to break down and causes pain.
Pain is our body’s warning signal that something is wrong. More accurately, pain is an indication that the body can no longer compensate. To avoid pain, our bodies will compensate again which leads to new pain somewhere else; which leads to more compensation….you get the idea.
If you catch yourself saying any of these phrases, your body is probably compensating:
“The pain just went away.” True, injuries need rest and recovery. But I assure you, your body compensated while you were recovering. Even after the acute pain is gone, pay attention to any new tension or soreness; it could be a compensation pattern.
“My quad/hamstring/shoulder/neck is tight no matter how much I stretch.” If a muscle group is chronically tight and tense, it is likely working overtime to compensate for another weak muscle group.
“I had my knee/shoulder/hip replaced and now the other side hurts.” Surgery and physical therapy primarily address the muscles acting on the affected joint. Most post-op rehab protocols don’t address all the compensation patterns that formed while you were limping around before surgery.
“I’m just getting old.” In my opinion, age is a factor to the extent that the older we get, the more time we’ve had to develop poor posture and compensation patterns.
“I just need a couple Advil/Tylenol.” I understand you need to get through your day, but pain is your body’s way of telling you something is wrong, Wrong, WRONG. Constantly silencing your body’s warning signals is recipe for overuse injuries like bursitis, tendinitis, sprains, strains and micro-tears.
Do you think you have compensation patterns? Book a session with me. We’ll go through a series of posture, movement and orthopedic assessments to determine ways in which your body might be compensating. The assessment is the basis for our effective, efficient massage treatment plan that addresses your whole amazing, adaptable machine…I mean body.