Pain inhibition – when we’re injured life must go on

Muscle inhibition, sometimes called pain inhibition, is where you become unable, or at least find it difficult, to contract a muscle that tends to be around a joint that is in pain.

We do this in response to pain. So if you’ve injured your knee then it can become difficult to contract your quad muscles (the ones on the front of the thigh), or at least with some of them. Why this happens is up for debate, but current thinking is that it’s to discourage movement of the joint so it gets time to recover. 

The problem is that, much as we’d love to just relax for 6 weeks when we get injured, life must go on! So you’ll still need to get to work, pick up the kids or you might have some time away booked. This means we need to carry on using the joint, so it’s important that the muscles work well to provide adequate support and to help the symptoms settle. 

How do we get moving again? 

In simple terms, we practise using them again! Think of the bit in the first Kill Bill film where Uma Thurman’s character is trying to wiggle her big toe to get moving again. 

So if you’ve injured your knee and need to get the quads moving again, this static quads exercise is a great place to start. If you start early you can often see improvements in just a few weeks. 

Once you’ve achieved this you can then progress onto more conventional strengthening exercises, which will help ensure no deconditioning of the muscles.

Although it might not feel like it, it can actually be a good time to improve strength and conditioning as a whole, not just as a damage limitation exercise. Do not rush back into these though, as it’s important to let the symptoms settle so that you don’t flare them up when you start strengthening. 

If you’d like to find out more about this or managing muscle inhibition in other areas, just get in touch with us today. 

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