We have built in responses in our nervous system that help the body to ‘save’ itself from a stumble, fall or insult. The reflexes that make your leg jump when you hit below the knee cap are part of this wonderful system. This reflex is the quadriceps, the large front of thigh muscle, activating and when it tightens the leg straightens. We have no control over this response and it happens instantaneously as our nervous system reacts to protect us from harm, or when being tested to simulate the reflex response by tapping below the knee.
In life this happens in response to pain or injury without hitting below the knee. For example, when we stand on something hot or sharp, the nervous system responds very quickly and the quadriceps on the front of the opposite leg will tighten to help you stand strongly on that leg; at the same time the hamstring, the large muscle at the back of the leg will activate to bend your leg backwards at the knee, taking your foot away from the hot or sharp impact.
Another example is when we touch something hot or sharp with our hand and it draws away from the stimulus with lightning speed. This is a similar response from our nervous system using similar reflexes that we have in our arms. These are healthy responses where our nervous system attempts to keep us safe from harm. These same reflexes are activated when we stumble or fall, as the body attempts to keep us upright and safe.
It seems that sometimes, these muscles can remain too tight after a stumble or fall and then pull on the joint over time, long after you have forgotten the incident. For example, I find many patients complain of unexplained knee pain, which often responds to specific treatment to calm the muscle response and settle the system back to normal. It is as though the response gets a little ‘frozen in time’ and keeps the muscle tight.
When we actually fall and have an impact, we are usually aware of where we have hit the body and may even have a bruise or break to show this. Often we can find bruises and have no memory of how they happened; the body, however seems to remember everything that has ever happened to it and particularly through the ‘intelligent’ fascia that supports and surrounds everything. I wrote about the body memory in an article on ‘The Fascial Network’.
We are usually aware of what hurts at the time of a fall and may just brush it off as nothing as after a few days we compensate, move a little differently and no longer feel the hurt. The body is wonderful at compensating, though over time, too many compensations can lead to other problems as the body has less compensation ability and starts to give symptoms. I wrote an article about “Body Compensation and Scars”.
I often find that patients come in with aches and pains that they have no real explanation for and that seem to have started ‘out of the blue’. While taking a detailed case history of everything that has happened to that person, there is often a history of a fall or accident in the past. The impact that goes into the body during a fall, whiplash of other accident can have a far greater impact than we imagine at the time. It is due to the wonderful ability of our body to keep us safe and functioning that we are able to ignore many of these insults, until we have done that too often.
Whilst there is no clear scientific evidence that this occurs, I have treated many people for such conditions and helped to alleviate their suffering.
Once the symptoms have eased and more normal function is restored, I encourage patients to have regular M.O.T’s to keep themselves well and ease out the compensations that they may be unaware of carrying. Seeking help for injuries when they happen as well as regular maintenance treatment can help you retain your vim and vigour and potentially avoid bigger problems at a later date. I wrote an article on “Maintenance Osteopathic Treatment”.
We are happy to advise you on your health matters and offer a free 15 minute joint and spinal check, without obligation.
Lin Bridgeford DO KFRP MICAK MICRA FSCCO MSc
Registered Osteopath & Kinesiologist & Yoga Teacher
Aether Bios Clinic
https://linbridgeford.wordpress.com contains all my articles as blogs