Is your body a Fixer Upper?

pilates, back pain, body

Does your body need a small make over, or a whole new re build?

We’ve all seen those renovation shows – people buy the old run down house, an old barn, in some cases some remnants of what was once a building of sorts, and then set about the job of making it their dream home.

There’s heaps of different versions out there – they all follow the same format – but essentially it’s a ‘what the hell are you doing with that property‘, what possessed you to buy it, and how on earth are you going to get your dream home in that budget and time frame.

Inevitably – the budget blows out, what they thought was gonna be a simple job as someone inspected it and told them everything was sound, was incorrect. Things get thrown up along the way. They tear down a wall and discover something that means the job gets put back two months and adds on twice as much… you get the drift.

But the biggest thing that never ceases to amaze me – is that a lot of the blow out costs and time frame issue comes from the fact they try and self manage.

People who have no idea about how to renovate or build a property, try and manage their build rather than handing it over to a property manager – yes that costs money but in the long run it saves you time and costs. The input they do without and the stresses and strains of trying to figure it out when they realise a wall has to come down, or tiling needs to be taken up because they ‘forgot’ to wet proof, or didn’t realise that building regulations required set things to happen or heights had to meet set rules, amazes me….

But we still get those shows popping up. People still gamble their wordly possessions and chase their dreams and ‘figure it out as they go’ – and in the majority of cases it seems to work out eventually. It has just taken a longer time then they planned, delays were inevitable and also the budget goes crazy.

Would they do it again – the jury’s out  – some say no way – some say yes but with the knowledge they have now…

These reno shows  really remind me of what people do with their bodies too….

We get heaps of enquiries that people have said – I need to get  a stronger core, I need to work on my posture, I need to sort out my pain and I can do that with getting stronger core.

All correct – if you are structurally sound, and all the bits are working in the right way – everything may generally improve with exercise and being stronger.

The new research has supported the fact that exercise is key to building strength and strong muscles are the key to supporting joints. Back pain responds well to exercise.

The unknown quantity – is what is your structure like to start with?

Are you in need of a bit of a “paint job or touch up’, a  “bit of re – modelling”, or are we looking at a let’s just start over and build from the ground up?

If you need to do a body reno, you need to know what stage you’re at and what needs doing before you’ll get the results you want.

Same as a house – if the wall is just a but worn and just needs a paint job – a new coat can do wonders – this is where you need to just tone up, get stronger and active again – but that’s it – you have just gotten a bit weak..

If you have a few cracks appearing – they may need a bit of a plaster job, repair and fill in some gaps and then re paint – that may equate to – you may need some hands on work to address some areas that don’t function that well – IE joints are a bit stiff, muscles have some flexibility issues, and then work on the rest.

If you have some deeper cracks that have appeared and have affected the ground works and foundations – which means calling in some wall support and doing some real fixing such as re pointing, rebuilding and strengthening the wall and its foundations first, before you even look at plastering and then painting – well that’s a whole new ball game….this is generally the case with chronic ongoing conditions or pain where you haven’t moved for a long time and don’t know where to start…

A quick paint job will make it look better – but cracks appear again quick quickly – you keep painting – it keeps coming back. all the while the under lying structures remain under stress, and that isnt changing – and in fact its probably getting worse as nothing is relieving that stress.

Putting a few fillers in here and there – will have the same effect – so you may get a little longer out of it but the cracks appear again.

People say to us all the time- I was told to improve my core so I went to boot camp and tried to do planks.

If you are a full blown fixer upper – you are trying to do the polishing finishing work – without laying the ground work. If you have had recurring ongoing issues for a long time or are in a lot of discomfort – you are missing a really important stage ….you may get so far – then blow out again…. you do some more research, try a different tact and then improve and blow out again.

Look at your body like  a reno project – certain things have to happen at certain times ( the body’s natural healing process) and things will generally have a better response to management.

We utilise those time lines as we know what the different stages are and what then mean.

In acute injury there’s the inflammatory stage – your body swells and inflames to get the right protection to the area and bring in the healing products to your body – last 24-48 hours.

The next phase is rebuilding – last 0-6 weeks depending on your injury and the body is re building damaged fibres or tissues, it’s still weak and liable to injury – but in soft tissue cases we may still need to load it to get it to lay down the  new fibres correctly. ( in fractures this is when you are in plaster generally).

In the re modelling phase( 3-12 weeks) the tissues have healed and we are making them stronger – they line up correctly and we need to stress them along the correct lines but in a controlled manner so they respond correctly to load – again they are at risk of damage if this phase is missed ( ALA – weak ankles).

Beyond the acute/ healing phase – so after 12 weeks – you are generally classed as ‘chronic’.

The boat to try and heal using the bodies own mechanism’s has generally passed. You need to be doing something different with chronic ongoing pain.

So look at an injury as a new build – all the right things generally happen in the right time frame and manner – we get access to the materials we require at the right time.

Chronic issue and pain that you may deal with yourself – look at like the fixer upper – you need to know what to do and in what time frame and order to get where you want to be in the time frame you want.

Other wise you’ll blow out with costs and time as it will require more work to fix it and more time, or you will be constantly doing a ‘paint job’ which is just covering up underlying structural issues…





About Saree Hewlett (134 Articles)
Saree has 20 + years as a physio, training in the UK and completing her Masters in Manual Therapy in Perth, UWA. She has integrated Pilates into her practise having trained in the Polestar method and currently owns and runs two Studios in Perth's Northern Suburbs. A previous international Artistic Skater she understands the needs of sports people and also those suffering from chronic pain and reduced function - we all want the same thing - to be the best we can be! She is married with two active young boys!

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