When you're having muscle discomfort or pain, Cory Blickenstaff's Edgework is a simple technique you can try on your own or with a therapist. Some of you may intuitively do a version of this, but using Edgework's systematic approach may be more effective.I've selected some videos from youtube, but there are a few others on there, and Cory also has a blog: blog.forwardmotionpt.com (the blog is down right now but should be up soon).
If you've heard of using "graded exposure" to movement to relieve pain, this is a simple, systematic kind of graded exposure.
The only caveat is that if you're not sure the cause of your pain, be cautious and consider getting care. And of course if it doesn't work, don't force it; it's just not the answer for you.
This intro video focuses on the foot and ankle, and on the basic Edgework steps: Nudging, Scraping the Barrel, and Stacking the Deck.
In his second intro video, Cory shows how you can progress this work by loading the foot and repeating the three concepts:
* Nudging: Moving gently toward the edge of discomfort, then backing away from it.
* Scraping the Barrel: Going to the edge and then staying there, working the joint through whatever range of motion is possible without leaving or crossing the edge. As the edge expands, you can expand the movement.
* Stacking the Deck: Going to the edge, then adding a novel, pain-free movement.
In all of these, he's weaving in some good science on pain. For example, in "nudging" he's asking the body to answer the question, "How dangerous is this, really?" Pain and muscle guarding are often the brain's response to a suspected threat. But the brain sometimes overreacts, sending out pain signals and muscle bracing that continue after the threat is gone. If the body and breath stay calm, and you bring the muscle right to the verge of discomfort but not over it, you're gently helping the brain to see that nothing bad is about to happen.
Note in the following video on low back pain how he couples the work with diaphragmatic breath to send a signal to the body to dial down the flight-or-fight response.
And here's some for the knee:
You can apply the concept to any part of the body, being gentle and never sustaining pain in any direction. If you have any questions about where to start, contact me and I'll see if I can help you brainstorm. Should you do this before getting care? Once you have been cleared for fracture, break, or soft tissue damage you can try it. Ideally, you would do it in tandem with care, or follow it up with care, to help you figure out why you got the injury in the first place, or, if you have had the injury a while, to tease out related compensations. Also be sure to evaluate all your movement habits (not just the obvious ones), to see whether there are simple things you can change at home. If the discomfort doesn't go away, if it comes right back, or if it seems to move somewhere else---or if the area doesn't seem to be as functional or strong as it used to be---consider getting care.