Physio: Musculoskeletal screening and your New Year’s resolution

Was one of your resolutions for 2012 to get in shape? You probably weren’t the only one, as lots of people try to kick the new year off with a new exercise regime.

You may have been starting from scratch or increasing a previous exercise regime. Either way, pushing your body beyond what it is normally used to can lead to injuries that halt your progress before it has a chance to start. Whether it be running, weights, or circuits that you do, if there are any small weaknesses, tightness, or muscle imbalances in your body, the chances are they will be amplified when you start to push your body outside of its comfort zone.

Working as a physiotherapist, I have commonly seen people who suddenly start to get aches and pains developing in their low back, hips, knees, ankles and feet as their bodies struggle to cope with the sudden increase in workload they are put under.

This is especially common in people who are starting an exercise program having not done much exercise recently; but is also seen with those who do take part in regular exercise but have changed their workout to something that their body is unfamiliar with.

Each joint in the body is surrounded by a network of muscles, tendons, and ligaments that work together to support the joint and create efficient movement.

If your joints don’t have enough support from these supporting structures, they can become irritated as too much force and impact is absorbed through the joint surface.

Likewise, the muscles around a joint generally work as pairs and if one of the pair is much stronger than the other, or much tighter than the other, this may make you vulnerable to an injury such as a pulled muscle or a tendonitis. In most cases, any injury like this would put a halt to your new fitness regimen.

If this sounds familiar, then musculoskeletal screening by a registered physiotherapist may be what you need.

Whether you have started your exercise regimen and have developed a pain somewhere, or are about to embark on your new exercise plan, screening can help you to achieve your goals.

Musculoskeletal screening is a tool commonly used by physiotherapists for recreational to professional athletes to identify potential problem areas so that they can be addressed to prevent injury.

As well as identifying potential injuries, it is also a tool used for performance enhancement—the goal being to find ways of improving body mechanics to enable an athlete to maximize their potential.

Most of the time a screening will highlight one or two potential problem areas. These can normally be addressed with some simple exercises, which will considerably reduce the chance of injury and enhance performance.

If you have already picked up an injury from your new regimen, screening can still be used to diagnose your injury, and importantly detect why it has occurred to ensure that it will not re-occur once you get going again.

So, if you want to make the most of your New Year’s resolution and ensure your exercise plan doesn’t get halted by injury, ask your physiotherapist about musculoskeletal screening.

This column was contributed by Niall McGregor, a registered physiotherapist and

associate at Sun City Physiotherapy’s downtown Kelowna clinic.

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