I recently became aware of the “summer body” pain trend over the past couple weeks when a handful of new clients presented with extreme neck or back pain.
“Nothing, I just slept wrong, I have had pain for seven days now, but that’s just because I slept wrong.”
“You just slept wrong? You have not done anything different? Any new exercises, new job, maybe a move?
At this point I know the client isn’t being completely honest or as they like to call it, “forgetting” about an important change or event that happened around that time when the new, never experienced pain started. I start a range of motion assessment but it’s useless as any movement back, forward or to the side hurts to the extreme. After assessing posture things start to become more clear: high arches, hammer toes, forward head and some kyphosis - some of the typical pointers for an imbalance between front and back lines.
“You know what, I think I will not do much on your back today, instead I want to focus on the front of your neck, stomach and the back of your legs.”
“And that will help my neck and back?”
“I think so, let’s see.”
We start working and the client
remembers that she and her personal trainer have focused more on her abs lately
because she gained some weight over the winter and wants a flat stomach for the
summer season. And she is not the first one to share this story with me during
early spring. Most of us gain weight in our belly first, and that is also the
part of the body we see in the mirror every day, so people think that doing
exercises for the belly will make it look sharp again.
An hour later the client was amazed at her ability to turn and bend with significantly less pain. And since Olea doesn’t just provide pain relief, but also works to prevent it from occurring, I decided to write some words of advice to hopefully save some other necks and backs out there.
I am not a personal trainer, so I can’t tell you what to do in your workout, but as a body worker with 7 years of experience I can tell you what not to do in your workout. Based on the stories of how pain has started in my clients I have gathered some simple advice for my readers.
1. Everything needs to be done in balance. The back needs to be strengthened just as much as the stomach, and the hamstrings need to be stretched just as much as the quads, otherwise your body will let you know it’s unhappy. Of course when your body is in pain it means it is already out of balance and the exercises need to be modified to achieve the balance by activating and strengthening weak areas.
2. Don’t overdo it. Do just as many reps as your muscles can handle, and add one more to your next routine. When the muscle you are trying to engage in the exercise becomes exhausted, your brain will engage other muscles that may not be appropriate for the task.
3. Don’t exercise through pain. You are not going to prove how tough you are by squeezing your teeth and limping another 5 miles.
4. Don’t expect that what helped your neighbor or coworker will help you too, unless it’s an appointment at Olea J. Every body is different. The same pain can be caused by different reasons. I always like saying that if you tried stretching something and it didn’t help after 5 minutes, it is not because you didn’t do it long enough, it’s because you either did it wrong or you are stretching the wrong part.
5. Use your intuition and listen to your body. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. No matter how many people around you are doing it, no matter how much time there is left until summer, no matter what your personal trainer, doctor, massage therapist etc. are telling you. We are all human, we make mistakes, but your body will always guide you in the right direction.
Be safe and have fun this spring, and remember that Olea Massage is always here to help with your pain treatment and prevention