Saturday, September 09, 2006

Anyone ever heard of "guarding"?

So, the other day Dr. Mike (chiropractor) gave me an adjustment on my knee... after which it felt great. He also said to go see Susan (my massage therapist) and get my quads and hams worked on.

So, I booked a massage for hams, quads and ITBs. Susan says there is some minor ham strain, but nothing serious. She pokes and prods and digs into my quads and then says, "You're expecting it to hurt, aren't you?"

"I guess so," I say... "It has for so long."

She says, "The quads feel great. There's no swelling in the knee... no scar tissue left... and no adhesions. All signs of injury are gone."

I am surprised. Why does it still hurt sometimes... especially when walking (but never in the gym)?

She said she suspects I might be "guarding"... Some kind of reflex to pain (or anticipated pain). In this case, the quad tenses up, pulling the patella off centre, literally causing everything to pull in the wrong direction... creating pain... but it is due to "guarding", not injury.

I kind of get this... but not really. Sounds a bit airy fairy, "it's all in your head" type of stuff... Which could be valid... it seems logical... and yet... a bit "out there".

Just wondering... Have you ever heard of this? Or a better question... If you have heard of it, how can I overcome it? I Googled it and checked it on Wiki, but didn't find much. I also asked my chiropractor, who had heard of it, and my trainer, who had not. Neither of them had concrete suggestions on how to move past it, so I thought I'd throw the question out to Blog-land and see what, if anything, comes of it.

If this is what is still causing me problems, then the next step is to figure out a solution. The sooner, the better!

Having said all that, the walking program continues to progress well. No running yet though...


craig said...

Don't know anything about guarding but "no swelling in the knee... no scar tissue left... and no adhesions. All signs of injury are gone" sounds like progress. Glad the walking is continuing on schedule.

wthenrest said...

uhh let me get this straight...the patella moves out of the way and this is not an injury. It is what... hide and seek? Sounds a little "made up" to get more money out of you to me...BUT - pain is pain to me even if they don't know where it comes from.

I have never heard of it but that means absolutely nothing. I hope the pain goes away... Maybe a wine and movie night might help. Hey! it is a lot cheaper than therapy sessions. Good luck. Let me know if you find something out about it.

backofpack said...

I've never heard of it. But I'm with Craig - it sounds like things are much better. The only thing I can think of that might help is some positive thoughts about being healed and reminding yourself to relax. I'm not very good at visualization, but a lot of people swear by it. Hope you figure it out...

oshee said...

I've heard of it. I worked as a PT Tech for several years. Your body remembers the injury..and the pain.

Professional athletes go through extensive training after rehab so they will learn to not favor the formerly injured limb any longer. Even after they are better, they have to relearn how to use the injured part naturally again. See this article where they discuss Amare Stoudemire coming back from serious knee injury.

We compensate so naturally when something is injured it takes retraining to stop it. I expect it will take time and trust in your own body for the guarding to ease up. That is the toughest thing for you right now, I think. You've worked so hard to get back, but had so little success part of you doubts it can happen. Keep trusting in what you are doing and you'll get there.

oshee said...


When I tried to put the link into my last comment it didn't work.

THis is the story I was referring to. I hope it adds some insight.

Turtle Guy said...

Somewhat unrelated, but I'd heard about something called "phantom pain" which, as I understand it, is often felt after an amputation.

The subject will actually "feel" the pain of an injury in an appendage that isn't part of the body anymore.

Same, but different.

Janice said...

Hi Sarah,

I've never heard of that, interesting.

I do know that if you haven't come to terms or asempt what has happened, sometimes you'll keep having pain in an area. I had to do something of the like with my c-section scar that still hurt me more than a year or two after the birth of my daughter. I had to do some soul searching, and some praying, as well as mediating on it. And the result I am and still remain pain free. I do still get a pinch or pull from the old scare tissue, but that it.


Anvilcloud said...

I have to be guarded with my comments. :)

Sarah said...

Interesting. I've never heard of it.

Since she brought it up, did Susan have any suggestions on how to overcome it? Or are you just supposed to "not do that".

robtherunner said...

I am not sure about guarding, but it sounds a lot like compensating for a past injury. I know that after I have been injured on my right side, for example, I tend to land with more of my body weight on my left to try to keep from putting to much pressure on my right in the hopes that I do not get injured again. What usually happens is that I have bad form and I look like I am still injured when really I have lost confidence due to the injury and try to compensate by protecting, or "guarding" the previously injured area. My suggestion is to have confidence in your abilities and your natural running or walking form and let things come back naturally and slowly.

Oh, by the way, this is not a scientific or proven method by any means and I could just be talking out of my a**, but if kind of sounds like it might make sense. I know, airy fairy indeed.

Robb said...

I've heard of 'guarding' - and it makes sense to me. I injured the left side of my back a few years ago and suffered a fair bit of pain on my right side...because I was compensating for the injury. My chiropractor mentioned the 'guarding' notion.

olga said...

All good points on guarding, although it takes forever to get rid off it. I agree that injury signs gone is a fabulous news. Gives hope, doesn't it?