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The Key to “Happily Ever After Injury”: A Short Story on Prince Rehab

by Carmen Andrews - Physiotherapist

The Key to “Happily Ever After Injury”: A Short Story on Prince Rehab

This is a story-like explanation of how pain and injury are related, and the role that rehab plays in getting you pain free.

Skip down to the end to read a little more about rehabilitation…or to see the list of characters and metaphors explained.

A castle in a misty valley

A Kingdom is under siege! Injury, a Pesky Thief, is trying to sneak in to take Health and ruin the Kingdom.

But Pain, the ever-faithful Watch Guard, is on the lookout.

Man holding a flame-torch in a stone alcove

Upon the invasion of Injury, he pounds the gong to alert the King! The King gathers with the Knights, plotting and debating to choose the right counterattack. Then the Legions are dispatched!

…The invasion site is secured, fires are put out and repair to the smouldering ruins begins.
…The joyous messengers of peace return to report the victory to the King, and a State of Watchful Rest is again declared.
…Pain stops pounding the gong and silently resumes his watch.

A flag rampant against a blue sky

But kingdoms and politics (and the body!) are seldom that simple. If there is a problem anywhere – from the King right down to the Legions and People – any number of plots can unfold…

…Injury can sneak in without arousing Pain.
…Pain can sound a false alarm when suspecting that Injury … might, maybe … invade.
…The King or Knights can decide to alert the Legions if they think that Pain, the Watch Guard isn’t being vigilant enough.
…If word of the State of Watchful Rest doesn’t reach the Watch Guard, he may go on ringing the gong. And on. And on… (These metaphors are unpacked below…)

Even with all of these plots at play, the Kingdom must carry on. The people of the Kingdom must eat, sleep, and earn their wages to ensure their survival.

Enter Prince Rehabilitation.

A man wearing a crown and a red robe

He’s the Prince Charming, the Madiba of our story. The political leader who is passionate about the wellbeing of the Kingdom.

When Health is taken and the Kingdom lies in ruin, Prince Rehab works with the People of the Kingdom to rebuild it. He synchronises the counsel of the King and Knights with the activities of the Legions and People. And he makes sure everyone is retrained and ready for action.

Prince Rehab works with the King and the Knights to oversee and coordinate the Legions to improve function, performance and resilience.

While he’s doing this, Rehab speaks to the King, bolstering the King’s confidence in the Legions and the People of the Kingdom, and showing him it’s safe to back off from his hypervigilant decisions.

Rehab calms Pain down, slowly quieting the urgency of the gong, until everyone agrees that it is safe to stop beating the gong, and Pain is content to return to silent watching.

Regardless of the plots at play, Prince Rehabilitation ensures the survival of the Kingdom!

A sun-bathed castle

Beyond the Fairy-tale

Pain changes the way you move. For example, back pain will influence how you move your mid-back and neck.

Which means it’s not unusual for people with lower back pain to struggle with midback or neck pain - the body has shifted the load away from your lower back but overloaded another area.

We do rehabilitation to change to way you move so that injuries don’t keep recurring.
A few weeks of dedicated work makes change which will leave you better off for decades to come.

Learning to move differently not only shifts these reasons you’re stuck in an injury cycle, it helps to relieve pain. And it changes your body in the long run because your brain rewires itself, making your body move differently. The scientific evidence for this is beyond doubt.

So let’s reframe how we view rehabilitation and the necessity for it. You’re changing the way your brain is wired and therefore changing how your body moves…for the long run.

Long may the Health of the Kingdom last!

Close up if instrument in a brass marching band

Meet the characters:

Your body, The Kingdom
Injury, A Pesky Thief - can be a sudden blitz attack (such as a fall), or gradual creep under cover in everyday life like aches and pains from sitting or stress.
Pain, the ever-faithful Watch Guard (this his gong) - raises the arlam to let the body know there is a problem; sometimes your body raises a false alarm or refuses to switch the alarm off after the threat is resolved.
Your brain, The King - oversees the pain, inflammation and healing cycles; it can be misled or hypervigilant. Safe movement helps to rebalance the cycles.
The People and legions - Special units of phagocytes, lymphocytes, cytokines...the body systems involved in the normal healing process.
Rehabilitation, Prince Rehab - graduated, safe movement; builds strength, corrects movement and resets the pain system.

Marching guards in red

Unpacking the Metaphors:

Injury can sneak in without arousing Pain:
The body is damaged, but no alarm signals are raised, and you feel no pain. For example, a soldier who discovers shrapnel in his body per chance, decades after the war ended.

Pain can sound a false alarm when suspecting that Injury … might, maybe … invade:
In other words, your body thinks it is under threat, and responds by producing pain. There may be no real threat, only the perception of a threat. An example would be when the pain is completely out of proportion to the injury, but you experienced a similar severe injury years ago which you have never forgotten.

The King or Knights (the brain and nervous system) can decide to alert the troops if they think that the Watch Guard (Pain) isn’t being vigilant enough:
The body produces inflammation without an injury. For example, when sciatic pain which refers down the leg, possibly causing swelling on the ankle or foot.

If word of the State of Watchful Rest doesn’t reach the Watch Guard, he may go on ringing the gong:
The system stays hypervigilant after an injury or pain episode, and the pain alarm keeps ringing; pain without injury or threat. A good example is phantom pain after amputation – the source has literally been cut off, but the pain goes on.

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About the author: Carmen A is is mom to a very busy toddler, she has a love for the outdoor life and has competed at a high level in endurance adventure sports (particularly in running and mountain bike stage races). She is passionate about running and getting moms back to running after pregnancy. You can MAKE A BOOKING to see her to work out a rehab program that will work for you.

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