Most injuries come from a combination of our genetic blue print and the physical environment we live, work, and play in. Even the seemingly straight-forward ankle sprain may be more complicated than we think. There may be a predetermined force that determines “how” injured we become. Anyone who has experienced a low back spasm while picking up a piece of paper understands that the cause of our injuries is not always straight forward.
Our genetic predisposition, or simply put, the blue print of our body, contributes largely to how we develop. Our blue print helps determine the size of our feet, the color of our eyes, and those traits that may become our strengths or weaknesses. Our genetic blueprint may give us a large margin of error for injury, or it may make us more susceptible to injury. For example, a wider pelvis (genetically predetermined) means that there will be more stress to the inside of the knee during activities such as skiing and playing soccer. This may be part of the reason for the high incidence of knee ligament injuries in female soccer players. A less obvious genetic contribution to injury is the presence of weak parts of the spine. Each individual possesses unique areas that are susceptible to break down. Whether these segments actually break down (degenerate) or not has to do with our genetic plan and the environment we experience. Our genetic blue print helps dictate just how the stress and strain of our daily life affects our body.
We can’t control the genetic blue print of our bodies, but we can influence the effect of the physical world by using good body mechanics and conditioning our bodies to minimize the risk of injury. Physical activity may help build up your margin of error, or it may bring you closer to injury. The trick to staying successfully active is knowing how to manage your individual strengths and weaknesses. Physical Therapists are trained to help people understand their own body, enhance activity performance, and recover from injury. Your physical therapist is a great resource to help you understand your body so you can continue to live an active and happy life.