I love getting people pain free. And the greater the challenge, the more I enjoy it. So when Izzy said that her physios and doctor has encouraged her to give up the sport that she clearly loved, gymnastics, it was time to get to work. Izzy doubted she would be ready for March the 2nd, English Championships but… I thought it was doable.
Now, Izzy’s back pain was as the result of what is called a facet injury which is where two joint surfaces are inflamed and strained. This is why her physios and doctor has advised her to stop, because you need to weight-bear on these joints during back bends.
However the torso and the hips can distribute force around the entire core which can desensitise and off load the facet joints. This was our first move.
You will have seen the more advanced exercises we were using at the beginning of her rehabilitation but all of this has to be gradually introduced, starting with strategies for core engagement to back back bends pain free.
However, what can be the most difficult part of rehabilitation is introducing a patient into the environment where harm was caused. This is because of Pain Gates. Information has to pass through gates to be recognised as Pain in the brain. Emotions such as fear or anxiety can swing these gates wide open, increasing pain. This is how stress, fear and worry increase pain. It’s why pain can correlate to how you’re feeling.
To introduce movement whilst keeping the pain gates closed, we must gradually introduce forms of the feared movement that are pain free and build from there. Izzy was great to work with here. We started with a bridge with a slow ascent and descent to introduce this pain free loading of her facet joints
After which I gave her some simple criteria to follow; “Start to practice any type of back bend that is relatively pain free. Once you have perfected it and you feel confident, move onto harder moves”
And now, a month after her last appointment with myself, she is doing fantastically well and I am due to watch her at the English Championships 2nd March. Wish her the best of luck! Izzy and her team doubted she would be ready to compete because of her back pain so she has done fantastically well.
- Pain free
We strive for these sensations or states from our patients. If we can get them saying they’re “pain free, confident and strong” then our work is done.
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