Niggle, Niggle, Niggle

I’m not sure you will recall but some time ago I mentioned a slight niggle I had in my shoulder/s.  I was stumped for ages about what to do about it.  Did I need a physio, acupuncture, massage, osteo, what?  Over the years I’ve incurred several injuries, mostly cumulative overuse type injuries but there have been a few acute injuries from lifting something incorrectly (or falling off a childs scooter on NYE).  In my experience I found that one practitioner was not able to treat/resolve all injuries.  For instance, when I was experiencing foot pain (when running) due to tight (really tight) ITB’s I found that a particular massage technique (Bowen I think) designed to allow the sheath surrounding my muscles to slide rather than stick together, that I got immediate and significant improvements.  Another example was a nerve issue in my left arm that was escalating and wrecking my whole back, eventually leading to loss of motor function in my arm that required a combination of chiropractic treatment (slight fused vertebra in my next) and trigger point massage (to release all the muscles that had been trying to accommodate the restricted movement and site of injury).  I’ve also had an osteo fix my lower back in one session after I pinched something doing heavy deadlifts that couldn’t help my shoulders at all.  so suffice to say I was a little confused as to who to approach.  Problem was that my shoulders were getting worse, not better.  I was having trouble pulling a shirt over my head, I couldn’t do push ups unless my elbows were tight in against my body and the final straw was it was starting to hurt when I was trying to do bench press with either bar or dumbbells.  Enough!

I’ve never had much exposure to acupuncture but I am very open to Eastern medicines and much of the theory behind acupuncture I’m into.  The flow of energy through your body for one.  So I went along to a physio/acupuncturist to have my shoulders seen too.  Now it’s probably an understatement to say that shoulders are a finicky little joint.  They are notoriously unstable despite have such a complex range of motion… or perhaps because of it.  I’ve now had 4 sessions and am pleased to say that I think things are improving but it really feels like 2 steps forward and 1 step back.  After the last couple of treatments I’ve experienced an increase in localised pain and an increase in the pain through those previously explained movements (t-shirt, bench press etc) and then 2 days later it seems to have settled down and actually improved.   Go figure.  I’m going to persevere with treatment though because one thing I’m aware of is that you’ve got to give a practitioner (of any persuasion) time to actually effect change.  This injury took me a long time to accumulate so to expect it to disappear in one or two sessions is somewhat unrealistic methinks.

So my advice to you is thus.  If you are experiencing a little niggle that doesn’t go away after a few days.  Go and get it seen too.  If not sure to whom, ask someone who’s got some experience in this space.  A fellow athlete, your trainer or coach.  Just watch out for the well intentioned but highly subjective advice of ‘them’.  Give the practitioner a few sessions to get it right but if you’re not ‘clicking’ with them (or the injury is getting worse) don’t be afraid to try a different approach.

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