Why does it hurt
Why does it hurt? This is a question we get daily. For this answer I am going to assume no underlying pathology or disease, or any acute damage. I’ll assume that possibly you have an old injury, but are otherwise, generally, in good health. I am also going to write the word meat, instead of muscle or tendon etc. because it’s almost impossible to target one particular tissue. It’s a big ol’ soup of things layered on top of each other doing different jobs.
The most common cause I see when I am training people is imbalance. I don’t mean that you can’t balance, although that may be a symptom of it. What I mean is that something is working harder than something else. One bit of meat is doing more than it should, and another bit is doing less than necessary. One thing is compensating for something else. Usually in these situations, the meat doing the work is the one that is in pain for any number of reasons, and you may feel tight there. Getting a massage, or foam rolling, or stretching, or any kind of pressure to that area that is in pain and working too hard may feel nice for a while, but the pain inevitably comes back.
Why is this? The treatments may produce a mild analgesic effect making it feel better for the short term, or even letting the meat relax a little. This is great but it nearly never fixes the problem for long. This is because we haven’t changed anything in how we use our bodies. We go back to old habits and movement patterns nearly directly after without changing the underlying cause. The only long term solution for these types of pains is movement and addressing the imbalances. Making sure everything works in better together so the right things are pulling in the right places at the right time, creating more stable movements, and making sure the right things can rest at the right time.
It’s actually really easy to start making those fixes yourself. If you feel tight and in pain in one area, try working on strength and control on the opposite side so that area that is working too hard can relax. Also making sure the joints above and below the problem area are free to move and can work independently of everything else.
For example: Do you have tennis elbow? you’ve overused some meat, and underused some other. You’ve mostly likely done a repetitive motion putting too much load on the meat you know how to use without strengthening the other parts. Improving strength in opening the hand and creating more activation and mobility in the shoulder, and checking the wrist has enough range of motion will often fix tennis elbow.
For long term pain there is no magic pill or treatment unfortunately, there is only good honest work, and the more quality work you do, the better you get. It’s not easy, but it doesn’t have to be complicated either.