This story is about me and just happened (Monday, June 29, 2020). It is about how pain and movement can be related to muscle system quality. It illustrates how symptoms can be misleading and demonstrates why many times treatments do not work.
I train Jiu Jitsu. It is a martial art. I have been training about 8 years now. I am almost 48 which means I began around 41. I train hard. In case you do not know, Jiu Jitsu starts on the feet and ends on the ground. It gets to the ground by takedowns (wrestling), throws (Judo), or by pulling your opponent on to you on the ground. Once it is on the ground you essentially win by submitting your opponent with some type of joint lock or choke.
Since the school recently opened again, I have been training 4 days a week – Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. That last stack of 3 days in row is killer. While the Monday and Friday classes are about 90 minutes, the Saturday and Sunday classes can last up to 3 hours. I am beat up after Sunday. By this Sunday, I had a few physical issues that caught up to me. My left big toe, left inner thigh, and right pec hurt. I could not extend my leg all the way back when I walked. When I would twist my body left or right my back muscles would cramp. I also lost a considerable amount of what is called gleno-humeral internal rotation in my right shoulder in a certain position.
First, let me tell you how I did not think and what I did not do. I did not look for any of the locations to hold the solution for my pain or movement issues. Meaning, I did not act as though there was a problem with any of the tissues (muscle, ligament, tendon, facias, bone, etc.). I did not act as if a tight muscle meant it needed to be stretched, rubbed, or rolled. I did not think that my lack of motion was being caused by some tissue that had tightened and need to be pounded by a Thera-gun to coax it to relax. In a nutshell, I did not prescribe to the idea that the location of a problem (movement or sensation) signified that something was wrong in that location and required action be taken there.
All the issues I mentioned were a big deal. Collectively they rendered me more to a hobble/shuffle than my normal stride when I walk. Sitting down and getting up were laborious. I felt low on energy because all movements required so much effort. I repeatedly watched my right shoulder rise every time I tried to twist my arm. The two motions should be able to occur independently. Here is what happened next.
I assessed my “motor control quality”. Motor control quality is what we (Certified Muscle System Specialists) use to describe a combination of ability and effort when it comes to a person moving their body in various directions against various resistance in various positions for various amount of time. It speaks to how well our muscle system is functioning. Not always, but sometimes, even though motion quality may be low in one part of the body, the complaints may be in another.
The thing we look for in a Muscle System Specialist session is a decrease in quality control in specific positions. And that is what we found. As we identified and then improved quality in positions, not only was my ability to resist force better, but so was my ease of movement and decrease in pain. In this case, my shoulder motion improved about 90% as my hip motion control quality improved. That scenario demonstrates why sometimes, when professionals look at the spot that hurts (because they believe the problem must exist in the pain spot), those treatments do not work. My shoulder problem required attention that was not in the shoulder.
The process of identifying low quality control continued. At the end of the session all but 1 problem was resolved. We found low control quality in motions that seemingly had nothing to do with any of my complaint areas. Yet, as the quality improved, pain decreased, and strength and mobility increased elsewhere. From there I followed up with homework to help “keep” my results and to better prepare me, so the issue does not arise again.
When things hurt, we want them to stop hurting. That ever-so-strong desire to stop the pain often blinds us from looking elsewhere (looking where the pain is not). Sometimes that is exactly where you need to look.