By Jenifer Tull-Gauger
Warming up and stretching are important ways for any active person to prevent injuries. That’s part of why I teach and practice Yoga here at East Valley Martial Arts – Kenshin Kan. When you regularly stretch your muscles and tendons, your improved flexibility lets you move quicker and kick higher without injury. Any activity carries the risk of injury, even working out at the gym or walking in the park. So what do you do, when you hurt yourself, to lessen the potential of long-term damage?
There’s a helpful technique that I call Dr. Scott’s Pain-O-Meter. Many of our students have met Dr. Scott De La Fe when he has taught stretching seminars at the dojo. Others have visited him at De La Fe Chiropractic for injuries or chiropractic adjustments. He is a chiropractor experienced in sports injury and rehabilitation. Gauger Shihan and I speak from experience when we say that Dr. Scott knows his stuff.
The last time Dr. Scott visited our dojo he gave us the Pain-O-Meter scale, which is information worth learning, repeating, and teaching to the kids. It starts with the basic practice (used by doctors and nurses) of rating your pain on a scale of zero to 10. A zero is no pain: you are happy and feeling good. A 10 is the worst pain you could imagine or the worst pain you’ve had in your life. (I have heard from many sources that a gallbladder attack is worse than childbirth, so if you’ve had one, that might be your 10.)
Okay, so you’re moving along and ouch, you hurt yourself! Notice the pain and rate it from zero to 10. (Listen to your body, as we say in Yoga.)
If the pain is a 5, stop your activity and take a moment to stretch. Then try the activity again. If it feels better, you are good to continue. If the pain is still a 5, or gets to a 5 again that day, then stop your activity for the day. Continue to gently stretch the area, ice it and take it easy until it feels better.
If the pain is a 7 or higher, you are done. Immediately! Stop exertion for the day. Carefully stretch, ice the area, and allow it to heal.
Dr. Scott also says, regularly and gently stretching muscles as they heal allows the muscle fibers to recover more completely and allows healthier fibers and better flexibility over time.
Remember: Assess injury pain from 1 to 10. 1 to 4 means you can probably continue. A 5 means to take a moment to stretch, then try moving to see if the pain lessens. If it’s better, keep on moving. If it stays at or goes back up to 5, stop exercising for the day, gently stretch, ice the injury, and go easy until it feels better. If the pain is 7 or higher, STOP training, gently stretch, ice, and heal!
We all risk injury as we move through our day. In case of injury, use Dr. Scott’s Pain-O-Meter. You will lessen the impact of injury. Listen to your body and you will be able to keep moving at maximum capacity for the long run.
De La Fe Chiropractic is on Facebook. Their website is http://www.backfxr.com