Do You Try to Use Strength as a Compensation?

Can strengthening exercises help to eliminate pain?

Short and annoying answer is...yes...and no...maybe. Pain cannot typically be reduced to something as simple as weakness of a muscle. Not everyone with back pain has a weak core and not everyone with knee pain has weak hips. Does performing some isolated strengthening exercises for these muscles work for some people? Yes, but if not investigated more, they could actually just be hiding a bigger issue that could become more serious or chronic in nature. Those muscles may be under performing, but perhaps that's because we are asking to much of them. 


A person with low back pain who is afraid to lift anything may not have a weak core, but rather needs to learn to not brace and hold their breath during movement. Some people need practice relaxing their core and letting their bodies function as they were designed. 

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A runner that has hip pain starting at 9 miles doesn't need to strengthen his hips so that they can just tolerate more of a pounding. Perhaps there is something else we can change to allow better impact absorption though the legs and spine to lessen the burden the hips have to manage. 

So in the end the question we want our bodies to be stronger so we can tolerate more stress, or do we want our bodies to be more efficient and not have to worry so much about our body breaking down? Strength training isn't a bad thing at all. It can be highly beneficial for health and performance, but as a physical therapist, it's my job to make sure a client isn't trying to use strength as a compensation when we should really be working on something else.  


Daniel SchumannComment