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.
The role genetics play.
Our genetic predisposition, or simply put, the blueprint of our body, contributes largely to how we develop. Our blueprint determines the size of our feet, the color of our eyes, and the traits that may become our strengths or weaknesses. It also 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 knees 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 areas that are susceptible to breakdown. Whether these segments actually break down (degenerate) or not has to do with our blueprint, which 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.
Acute vs Chronic Injuries
An injury can affect how you walk, work, or play. It is important to appropriately care for any injury as soon as it occurs. This will prevent further injury as a result of compensating, which may lead to damage of another body area. There are two main classifications of injuries: acute or sudden injuries, and chronic or gradually occurring injuries.
When an acute injury occurs, it is best to apply common sense. If the injury is severe, it may be appropriate to seek medical attention immediately. For lesser injuries, it may be sufficient to self-treat the area.
Common acute injuries are sprains and strains of soft tissue, such as ligaments and muscles or bone fractures. If an injury is severe, surgery may be required. Otherwise, conservative treatment may be adequate. Treatment may include bracing or resting the area until it is healed. During this early phase of an injury, pain control and gentle exercise may be beneficial. A physical therapist can design an individual program to meet your specific needs. A physical therapist will guide your rehabilitation process and prepare you for return to full activity.
Chronic injuries can be the result of injuries that do not heal well and create muscle imbalances, such as weakness or tightness. These injuries can also be the result of poor habits over time, such as abnormal walking/running patterns, training errors, improper footwear, or poor lower extremity alignment.
Most chronic problems can be treated conservatively with appropriate physical therapy treatment and medical care. Identifying the cause of the problem and aggravating factors that can be changed or avoided, restoring motion where restricted, and rehabilitating weak muscles are important components in this process. In rare instances, a chronic injury may require surgery.
Self-Treatment of Injuries with the PRICER Method
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