Moving Without Pain

Why is it that some people tend to get injured more during physical activities than others?

One important factor that can determine your risk of injury (and something that is completely within your control) is how you move.  The field of biomechanics, which looks at the effects of movement and forces on the body, can help us understand how to use our physical bodies more efficiently so that we can decrease our chances of injury.

If you participate in an athletic or occupational activity on a regular basis and you feel discomfort from that activity, consider getting Biofeedback Therapy or seeing a therapist trained in biomechanics to improve your awareness about harmful movements and learn better ways to perform those activities.  

With respect to activities of daily living, I have found the following Principles of Movement have helped my patients perform more tasks with less pain (especially pain in the neck, shoulders and back).


Principle #1 - Use your environment

If you lean against walls, countertops and furniture while performing tasks such as putting pants and socks on, washing the dishes or standing in a line, it will ease the tension and pain in your body.


Principle #2 - Keep your arms as close to your body as possible

By avoiding reaching for things or by holding objects as close to your body as you can, you will minimize the forces on your body which will reduce tissue stress and pain.


Principle #3 - Rethink angles

...instead of this.

Try this...

You can ease the forces on your body by changing the angles at which you approach things.  For example, walking in a zigzag pattern on stairs or on hills can decrease pain in the knees and low back.  Or holding a toothbrush differently can decrease shoulder pain.

Principle #4 - Use momentum instead of strength

When trying to move a vacuum, lawn mower or even a clothing iron, use the legs and let the arms piggy back on that momentum to move the object instead of pushing/pulling it with just your arms.

Principle #5 - Avoid frequent bending or twisting of the spine

Reorganize your activities so that you don't have to bend or twist to do things.  If you have to reach down, bend at your hips so that your back can stay straight.

Dr. Trung Ngo founded Novah Healthcare in 2017, an interdisciplinary clinic that specializes in the conservative management of acute and chronic pain. His Novah clinic will continue the work he did from 2011 to 2017 at Mount Sinai Hospital, where he led an interdisciplinary team in assessing and treating complex, chronic, non-cancer pain. His Mount Sinai team helped patients decrease their pain, improve their daily and vocational functioning and reduce or eliminate their intake of pain medications (including opioids). Dr. Ngo graduated from the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College and subsequently pursued a residency program at Hamilton General Hospital in which he furthered his training in orthopaedics and pain management.

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