As an experienced physiotherapist, I want to help my patients feel better and recover as quickly as they can to return to doing the activities they most enjoy.
There are a lot of myths surrounding the world of injury and rehabilitation and I want to set the record straight so you can get focused on getting better.
Myth 1: Rest is best
How often have you have you heard the anecdotal advice, "Just get some rest and it will feel better."
I don't know how this became a popular strategy, but it is not what I recommend as a professional.
While I'm not telling you to train and be active and push through your pain, I am advising you that you need to seek out the advice of a skilled physiotherapist to first assess your injury and then design a plan to help you.
Exercise promotes tissue healing and your tissues need to be loaded with the right movements in order for them to get stronger so you can return back to your regular lifestyle. Resting, on the other hand, causes a decrease in the loading of your tissues and as a result a loss of strength. The key is loading your injury properly. That is why it's best to work with a professional who can push you when the timing is right, or slow things down when needed.
Too much movement and exercise, too soon can be a problem, but too little can also prolong your recovery.
Myth 2: If I push through it, it will go away
While you don't want to just rest, you also don't want to swing to the other extreme and push through your pain.
Pain is our body's way of warning us there is a problem. Push through the pain and you will simply exacerbate the problem, likely leading yourself right into another injury that will sideline you from your training.
Training through pain changes the way your body moves and functions. It alters your motor patterns, causing them to become dysfunctional. Do that once or twice, no big deal. Do it continuously, and you've developed a dysfunctional way of moving that will lead to further pain and injury down the road.
Myth 3: Orthotics will cure your pain
Orthotics will not cure you. In fact, for most of you they may only make things worse.
When people come in to our clinic or training studio who wear orthotics, we always see the following: they are weak, have some serious mobility restrictions going on and have some serious soft tissue tightness happening.
Orthotics change the way you move, not allowing proper motor patterning or proper muscle activation to take place. This is explained well by Benno Nigg, doctor and founder of the University of Calgary's Human Performance Lab who studies running shoes and orthotics. According to Nigg, your body has to work much harder for the same movement while wearing orthotics, meaning you are much more inefficient. In addition, Wearing orthotics increases the stress on your joints by almost 50 per cent, while actually leading you to lose muscle strength.
We use the analogy of an uneven table at a restaurant. If you simply slide something underneath the table, it might seem to fix the problem, but it doesn't really address the underlying structural issue of the table. While it is a quick fix, the root of the problem (a shorter table leg, loose screw, rotting wood) needs to be fixed in order to make sure the table is back to being structurally sound and working as it should.
Myth 4: Your shoulder hurts, so you must have a shoulder injury.
The other day I alleviated my clients left shoulder pain by working on her right hip.
Your body does not work in isolation. Your muscles all work together in a beautiful symphony to create movement. When you have a movement dysfunction, it alters the way your entire body moves. This means a problem in one place can actually lead to pain elsewhere.
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This is where seeking the help from a professional becomes important. Sometimes shoulder pain stems from a shoulder problem, but sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes the site of pain is nowhere close to the source of the problem. Until you discover the root of your injury, you will never successfully rehabilitate your injury.
My advice? If your body is warning you with pain go seek out a professional to help you. Don't buy into these myths that could lead you into frustration and perhaps even more movement dysfunction and/or injury. Go seek help to get back to doing the things you love to do.
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