- Colin Liggett
New Pains, Old problems - The SMR Theory
In Sensorimotor Repatterning we consider that new aches and pains may stem from very old injuries? Be it knee pain, lower back pain, abdominal pain, headaches, neck pain, elbow pain etc., if the pain persists beyond 3 months, it’s considered chronic.
Chronic pain is an interesting phenomenon. After three months following injury, the body has rejuvenated the area with lymphatic fluid, flushed away debris and healed the tissue. So, in theory, there really shouldn’t be any residual pain.
In my view, chronic pain is caused by compensation patterns left over from the healing period. When the original tissue damage and pain occurred, the brain created compensation patterns to avoid using the effected tissue. When the tissue healed, the brain should have returned to using the original (more functional) movement patterns, but sometimes this doesn’t occur and chronic pain ensues.
I can take this theory further and say the recent injury actually occurred because of a very old injury that the body has been trying to compensate for ever since.
This is why my intake form is in-depth. When I first look at a client’s history form, I scan the symptoms and then jump to the previous injuries and surgeries. The answer to why the recent injury occurred and how to fix it is usually found there. If it isn’t there, it may have been unknowingly omitted by the client, and listening carefully to the client’s story in the first session will usually lead to questions that bring us to the incident that ultimately caused the injury.
For example, a ten-year-old fell and injured her head, had a couple of stitches and a sore neck for a week. For a ten-year-old, no big deal - she bounced back from it and was back playing sports the following week.
But her brain created a compensation pattern for that neck pain, and unfortunately, it didn’t go back to the original movement pattern for neck flexion when the tissue healed. After about six months the brain realized there was something not right about the way she was firing her neck muscles so it created a new set of compensation patterns to deal with the original pattern. In a year, the brain has recognized that these patterns are causing problems at her abdominal muscles, so it creates a new set of patterns.
And on the brain goes, quietly creating new patterns over the years, trying to correct the dysfunctions caused by the original injury until one day she is out playing soccer with some friends when she takes a side step to avoid a sliding tackle. Her right knee isn’t stabilizing correctly because the vastus medialis is inhibited, due to a chain of compensation patterns that started twenty years ago when she fell and injured her head at age 10 and she sprains the medial collateral ligament (MCL) of the knee.
With Sensorimotor Repatterning (SMR), I spend the time to find the original pattern that caused all the subsequent compensation patterns. Back in my days of practicing Neurokinetic Therapy, I got great results, but ultimately I was cherry picking the low-level compensation patterns that occurred in the recent past. With SMR I can correct the recent patterns, the original (old patterns) and everything in between. This not only fixes the current chronic issues, but it prevents injuries that haven’t occurred yet, as it removes the weak spots in the musculoskeletal system, creating an optimally performing you.