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Referring To Pain

On December 10, 2010, in Injury, Running, by Meghan
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Meghan's legs (August, 2009)

The human body is an engineering marvel with its bones, neurons, muscles, synapses, ligaments, and hormones. I suppose we have those eons of evolution to thank for these masterpieces. My experience with health and illness has shown that everything, and I mean everything, about our bodies is connected. Your dinner somehow connects with your femur, which links to your brain, which leads to your digestive system, and so on.

A miracle of this complex linkage is referred pain, what the medical community defines as discomfort felt in a different place than the site of a bodily injury. For example, knee pain is a common runner’s injury. In many cases, said knee pain and its related inflammation occur because of a problem somewhere else in the body.

Upon hearing a runner complain of knee pain, many an orthopod would inquire about the operational capacity of the iliotibial band in the same leg. If an IT band fails at its normal biomechanical duties, it can cause the body’s other soft tissues to do overtime, compensatory work.  This extra effort may leave those other soft tissues, like those of the knee in this example, inflamed and painful. Thus, your knee might hurt a whole bunch, but if you want it to heal, you must create a fully-functioning IT band.

I possess two main physical issues: my right arch doesn’t arch much anymore, and my hips have some wicked muscle imbalances. Much to my chagrin, these two problems have, at some time or another, managed to refer pain all over my body. I’ve, right now, got this particular engineering marvel penned in as a long-term project, wherein I’m rebuilding her from the innerds out. As of now, I’m healthy and uninjured, but I have to go easy in each athletic category. I can and do enjoy oodles of exercise each week, dividing it among lots of disciplines. I do a fair amount of everything, but too much of one thing will set me right back.

Thus, I’m now a multi-sport athlete. I’m a runner, yogi, cyclist, weight lifter, elliptical athlete, skate skiier, snowshoe runner, hill climber, snowshoe hiker, and dog walker. While I don’t wish pain on anyone, including myself, I’m excited that it has referred me back to all of these sports that, over the years, I slowly left behind.

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11 Responses to “Referring To Pain”

  1. Olga says:

    I am a multisport athlete…ahem, practitioner, and not due to injuries (well, I usually have at least a couple of active injuries, but it’s not why I am multisport). It’s because I like multisport. And may be because I am getting older and want to do many things and don’t want to be only one-dimensional. So, you go ahead, play:)

  2. Ewa says:

    Variety is also more fun.
    I guess I am focusing mostly on running because it is the easiest to squeeze into my day. I can do it practically anywhere with no equipment.

  3. Keith says:

    Multi Sport = everything in moderation => Everything F – U – N ! Have a great winter enjoying it all….

  4. JeffO says:

    U N me both. Both my arches have been fried, and rebuilding them is extremely difficult. More weights and hiking, less running.
    We’re half-way between crippled and awesome, which keeps us feeling blessed that we’re able.

    • Meghan says:

      This comment made me laugh aloud. If you come up with an arch fix, I’m all ears, buddy. I am! I’m going to get orthotics made for me. We’ll see if that helps…

  5. SteveQ says:

    I’ve had a few cases of phantom aches that turned out to be referred pain; the most unusual ended up with an urologist telling me that I had sciatica (apparently there’s a branch from that nerve that goes where I wouldn’t expect).

    As for multiple sports, what I’m discovering is that, with age, I tried to streamline what I did by removing “extraneous” activities; only now am I finding that those non-running things were advantageous.

    • Meghan says:

      Yeah, Steve, you get rid of the hobbies to make time for the running, then you find that you need the hobbies in order to run. Grrrr. Why don’t they just tell us this in the first place? Hope you’re well!

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