When you search about solutions for your pain, you will see many articles like "Fix your pain by doing this exercise!" Most of them focus on the area where the pain is. It sounds like it makes sense to work on your knee when the pain comes from there. You find a hole in your backyard, fill it up, and the problem's solved!
However, this is just a quick remedy. If you want to deal with the pain in a truly beneficial way, you need to think further ahead: What caused the hole in the first place..?
If a human body was a robotic body, we could move each part independently without affecting other body parts. We could twist our spine and look around without moving our hips or legs. But a human body is made more complex so each body part cooperates and reacts with each other. For instance, when you through a ball, you take a step forward by moving your legs, twisting your torso, moving your shoulders, then elbow, then wrist, and finally fingers. It's like a chain of movement. This chain is actually called the kinetic chain.
The kinetic chain describes the connections between movements in the human body. “Kinetic” refers to the motion of the body, while “Chain” implies connection. It shows how body parts work as a whole and affect each others’ movement. This has a significant impacts on our body, and everyone is subconsciously relying on it unless you are a robot dancer and intentionally cut the connection off (to some extent).
Especially, its affect on your posture is significant. As you can see in the image below, when you have a flat foot, your foot and knee tilts inwards. This tilting chain continues upwards, forcing your hips and shoulders to tilt also in order to maintain balance and stand straight up.
Teamwork hides the cause of the pain
When working in a team, if one member is down, the others have to fill in to complete the job. This teamwork also occurs in your body’s kinetic chain to complete a movement. If one joint or muscle starts to lose its function, others have to work harder to compensate. This reoccurring compensation will deteriorate the joint and muscle function even further, and your body will have to rely more and more on its other hard-working team members. This means that they over-work, which causes injuries and pain in the long run.
Therefore, when there is pain, it is highly possible that the root of the pain is not where the pain actually is. It could be the result of having a chain of compensations in your body, If you find a hole in your backyard, you can fill it up as a quick solution, but remember that there must be a rabbit that made the hole in the first place.
“The problem might not be where it appears”
How to find the root
When there’s pain, it is important to address the pain itself as soon as possible. However, without removing the hidden cause of it elsewhere, it will come back like a weed in a garden. Even when there is no pain, it is beneficial to assess the chain of compensations in order to prevent injuries.
The balance in the kinetic chain can be broken from bad posture, prolonged sitting, constant use of the same muscles (work, sports), and injuries. It is necessary to do movement checks and habit assessments to determine which of your muscles are weak, which muscles are over-working, which joints do not have full range of motion, what habits you have, and how your body has been subconsciously compensating.
“Even if you remove the pain, it comes back if you don't address the cause of it.”
These are some common indicators to find out what's contributing to your pain.
1. You have flat feet.
・Feet --> Knee pain, Lowe back pain
2. You cannot sit up like a teddy bear.
・Hamstrings, Core --> Knee pain, Lowe back pain, Shoulder pain
3. When you raise your arms, you can't hide your ears with arms.
・Upper back, Chest --> Lowe back pain, Shoulder pain
4. You cannot touch your toes without bending knees.
・Hamstrings, Lower back, Core --> Knee pain, Lower back pain, Shoulder pain
5. When you twist your body, your hands cannot be placed on the wall flat.
・Spinal muscles, Upper back, Lower back --> Knee pain, Lower back pain, Shoulder pain
6. You stand on one leg more often than the other.
・Dominant leg, Lower back on non-dominant side --> Knee pain, Lower back pain, Shoulder pain