Today I want to talk about another way to cause dysfunction in the human body. Everyone knows about acute trauma (i.e. car accident). We talked about stasis (see NWSL travel log #6). A third and very common method however, is cumulative microtrauma. The classic example of this is the “Chinese Water Torture.” The method is to drip single drops of water on the forehead until it leads to excruciating pain. After a while each drop feels like a hammer hitting the head.
Quite often cumulative microtrauma is experienced as a movement pattern that is so frequently executed so as to cause permanent adaptation by the body. A good example of this is any movement pattern repeated long enough to cause the formation of a blister, callous, or bone spur. Another example, that a small yet ever growing number of people are aware of, is the existence of a leg length discrepancy. This is when one leg is not the exact same length as the other one. This is also quite common among human beings. Most studies place this number somewhere around 92% of the population.
Steven Hawkins said that “nothing in the natural world is perfectly symmetrical.” He went farther to say that “it is exactly these discrepancies that give gravity something to sink its teeth into.”
This is of particular interest to me because in 1987 while on a bike ride, my illustrious collegiate football career was ended by a close encounter with a car. I woke up hours later in the CAT scan machine, wondering where I was.
I had broken C5 and the occipital bone in the back of my cranium.
For the next 14 years I had about 5 degrees of rotation available in my cervical spine. While I refused to give up on exercise, I paid a huge price for doing so. I suffered constant neck pain, fatigue, and spent all my time compensating for my limited range of motion.
Then one day Paul St. John measured my legs, threw a measly 3 mm lift into my right shoe, treated me 3 times and changed the rest of my life. I have never felt that neck pain again and have had full range of motion return in my neck.
It was then that I decided to devote the rest of my life to trying to provide that same kind of evaluation and life changing therapy to as many people as possible.
Every so often I am reminded how important those 3 little millimeters in my right shoe are. On my last trip to Fiji I went without my lift most of the time because I observed the no shoe rule where I stayed, spent time at the beach barefoot, and because I thought “what difference could it make for just a few days.”
Well, as I am well aware, it makes a huge difference. My hip started hurting deep in the socket about 5 days ago, just before my return flight. This makes sense in that my leg length discrepancy caused a cumulative micro trauma that then took a while to add up to the point where it actually hurt.
So, now I have put my lift back in, treated myself, and used a number of movements designed to release the hip. I’m currently feeling much better and will be 100% in another day or two.
So now you see, even someone who lectures people day in and day out about leg length discrepancy can underestimate cumulative micro trauma. So, as my father always says, “do as I say, not as I do.”
If you have a lift I hope you have more discipline than I do. If you don’t, and suffer from chronic pain, you might want to get that checked out. And if you’re one of the lucky 8% of the world who are virtually symmetrical and have no pain, well then…never mind. And to all of you, regardless of leg length, thanks for your warm welcome home.
In good health,