The Kinetic Chain – Why your shoulders, back, hips, knees, lower legs, ankles and feet hurt!!

Someone once said “You are only as strong as your weakest link” Remember the old song

     The foot bone connected to the leg bone,
The leg bone connected to the knee bone,
The knee bone connected to the thigh bone,
The thigh bone connected to the back bone,
The back bone connected to the neck bone,
The neck bone connected to the head bone

The basic message from the song is that everything is connected. I remember back in massage school, there were signs everywhere that said, “Remember: Everything is connected.”

When you have a long standing orthopedic problem somewhere in your body, chances are the problem is connected in some way to another area of your body. If your ankles or knees hurt just from walking, you may have some issues with your feet. Even if your feet are hurting, there may be an issue with your calves. Tight calves can lead to problems in your knees, hips and lower back. This in turn can cause problems in your upper back, shoulders, neck and even head. You see, everything is connected, a kinetic chain. When a part of this chain is weak or damaged, it will affect other parts of the chain. Those parts affect other parts and so on.

People come to me complaining about sore, creaky knees, shin splints, achy shoulders, hurting ankles, bad feet, etc. While some of these problems are “acute”, meaning that they just occurred, usually from an outside force or trauma, most are linked and directly related to other issues in the body. And in most cases, these issues are created by trigger points – hypersensitive little knots of tissue that form in the body’s soft tissue. The unique thing about trigger points is that the trigger causing the pain in your arm may be located in a different part of your body. So focusing on the site of the pain may be counter productive.

Scar tissue build up or adhesions from previous injury. Most active people have some scar tissue somewhere in the body. Some of us have more than others. If you were ever injured, than you have scar tissue. This scar tissue can cause an obvious limit in range of motion, thus causing improper joint mechanics.

  • Improper movement patterns. If you swing a golf club the wrong way long enough, not only will your golf game suffer, but you will quickly develop bad motor patters or mechanics. This in time will lead to imbalances of strength, and flexibility, pain, injury, and over compensation patterns. Bad movement patterns can occur in anything that you do, whether it is as simple as running, or more complex like throwing a baseball. Bad patters cause bad things to happen over time.

It is important when dealing with your own “issues” that you look at yourself more closely and try to find out where your problems lie. It is very important that those you choose to help you with your issues do not use a “cookie-cutter” approach. Hooking everyone up to an ultrasound machine may not be the best course of treatment. Everyone is different. Every person’s pain is different.

In the traditional medical world, the word “chronic” means “we have tried everything in our tool kit – x-ray, MRI, drugs, physical therapy, rest and more – and we don’t have any other way to help you. You are just going to have to live with it.”

I strongly believe that there are numerous “fixes” to most problems in the human body and most of these fixes can be done through simple means to correct the imbalances. Most people however use the band aid approach to the problems as they arise. A handful of Advil, a week off from your activity and some ice might make things feel better temporality, but until the real problem is solved, these issues will continue to haunt you.

Do yourself a big favor; the next time something is hurting, or you finally realize that you have chronic pain that has been with you for more than a month, find out why. Just by pinpointing the other issues in your body, you will better be able to figure out what is causing the current issues and hopefully get them fixed. I cab help you with this investigation.