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Can you see an injury before it happens?

Updated: Mar 11, 2022

Yes…you can. It’s a skill that’s fairly easy to learn. We teach coaches and parents how to identify potential injuries and compromised joints that impact the athletes in their care. But the same skill can be implemented for everyday life. People are surprised how easy it is to learn the techniques. The secret is to take your observation skills out for spin and use them along with a little bit of logic. Easy.

Here is a good example…

Which person below looks like they might have a knee problem?

You might not have answered too quickly, but odds are you can see a difference between the two people. The person on the right is the easy choice. You don’t even need to know exactly what’s wrong to tell the something is wrong. The knees look a little more knock-kneed than they should by comparison.

Here is another one…

Which person below looks like they could have a hip problem? Which one has has a hip out of balance?

Both women are fit, and experienced in performing yoga. However, one of them appears to have a small imbalance in her left hip. If you said the first person, you were correct. Your eye is already able to pick out a slight imbalance in the way the left leg is bent for the young lady in the top photo. The women in white leggings appears to have a more balanced position of her legs.

Seeing imbalances in people gets easier the more you practice. And any imbalance puts the body in a position to be more susceptible to injury. So, if you can see imbalances, you can see a potential injury before it happens.

Last year, during the NFL football season, the Dallas Cowboys lost their quarterback to a season ending injury in the second half of a game against the New York Giants. Injuries happen all the time in a violent sport like football. But this injury didn’t occur in a particularly violent way. The quarterback was tackled in such a way that he rolled his ankle and broke / dislocated the ankle. It's important to remember that this individual has played football his entire life and has been tackled thousands of times...with many tackles being much more violent than this episode. It’s kind of gross to see an injury like that happen, and it kind of takes your breath away a little. But what’s even more interesting is that his ankle looked horribly crooked the entire game leading up to the injury. In fact, I’ve looked at additional film from other games earlier in the season, and his ankle looked like it was halfway broken already. Consequently, it was only a matter of time before something horrible happened to it.

Unfortunately for him, everyone focused on his talent and not his mechanics. When that happens, even the slightest of stresses can have horrific consequences. Not to mention he, the rest of the team, and ownership, losing millions of dollars because of a superstar being sidelined. This incident also cost the team any real chance of success for the rest of the season.

Seeing an injury before it happens…involves paying attention to one's mechanics. If you don’t pay attention to imbalances that are easy to identify, even the strongest, and most talented athletes, will experience needless injuries.

By the way, the same thing happens to us non-athletes. Lets take a look...

Which of the pictures below look like the person will hurt their neck putting luggage in the overhead compartment?

It's not meant to be a trick question, but the first two rows of images for each person, shows significant imbalances. The last row (on the right) is the most balanced view of each person, and therefore, we would want our bodies to be display that kind of balance on a regular basis.

Let's try one more...Which of these two is the most susceptible to injury from a typical, normal paced jog?

Actually, this is a bit of a trick question...the answer is they both are. Both the swimmer, and the walker, have many of their own imbalances. One is certainly heavier than the other, but being overweight is not a mechanical imbalance. The heavier individual may not be able to run as long or as far, but he has just as much of an opportunity to have the run cause an injury as the swimmer. Both have mechanical imbalance, and therefore both are susceptible to injury.

What normal everyday movements do these people struggle with? What injuries would not be a surprise? A neck injury? Headaches? Shoulder problems? Knee problems?

When imbalances are easy to see, it's easy to the possible injury before it happens. If you are a soccer coach, and you have a player with horribly misaligned knees...It's just a matter of time. If you are sitting at a desk all day, and decide you want to do something fun like rock climbing, get ready to be sore in all the weirdest places.

And now that you can see imbalances in other people, it’s time to fix them in yourself…Ouch! will help.

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