Plagued by an old injury? How to recover from 'set in' pain

Plagued by an old injury? How to recover from 'set in' pain


You don’t have to have sore knees for the rest of your life. Here’s how to recover from an old injury that keeps coming back.      

Many of us live in the shadow of previous injuries, adjusting our lives to deal with the weaknesses and pain that never quite go away. For me, it’s carefully planning every warm-up and cardio activity around an ankle that easily sprains and strains because I twisted it when I was eight years old.

For others, it’s a particular niggle in their back or their shoulder that they have just accepted will always cause them grief. 

These ‘set-in’ injuries are annoying and usually occur because of a lack of rehab. “An injury that occurred many years ago but always feels like it’s there means it probably wasn’t properly rehabilitated at the time,” says osteopath Anisha Joshi.

Why do I keep reinjuring myself?

“If something hasn’t healed properly, it is more likely to occur again,” says Joshi. The reason is that those injuries that feel isolated to one area very rarely only impact just that area.

Take my ankle injury. Yes, I rested my ankle and it probably got a little weak, but the body likes to compensate. “For example, your knee might compensate if you have an ankle injury, which will change the way you move and perform. The body will always adapt, which is amazing,” she explains. “But then you have imbalances that might predispose you to other injuries in future.” 

The more you injure yourself, the more your body adapts. “It creates more weaknesses and imbalances, and you’re more likely to injure yourself again,” Joshi says. It’s a vicious cycle of pain, but it doesn’t have to be.

Can you recover from a set-in injury?

You don’t need to live in a state of fear about your injury, being too scared of moving in a way that will bring back the pain. “You can recover from these injuries,” encourages Joshi. “A lot of people have understandable fear around being injured, whether that’s a knee injury when playing football or ankle pain when running, but your body is built to be extremely strong,” says Joshi.

If you’re currently injured, dealing with it now is the best way to stop it from recurring down the line. But if your injury is already set in, Joshi says seeing the body as a whole is the key. 

“You might need to have the area massaged or treated, but generally it’s about looking at the site of the surrounding and connecting areas as well as the site of pain. Of course, how you get over the injury depends on what the injury is, but fixing the imbalances that have been created as a result of the body’s adaptation is important. Usually, strengthening the whole body is the best way to bulletproof your body.” 

Images: Getty

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