I’ve been swimming once a week for the past few months. Last week, as I finished, another patron was waiting for my lane. We exchanged hellos and he asked if the water was warm.

“I don’t usually swim. I’m a runner.” But, this,” he said, motioning to a very swollen, purple ankle.

Turns out, he had injured himself watching one of his children play a sport. We enjoyed a chuckle at the irony of injuring yourself watching others exert themselves. He offered up some details about his running habits and then said, “This ankle. I hurt it every few years. It’s always a freak thing.”

I told him it might not be a collection of “freak” incidents plaguing him, but instead might be a sign of something else. At this point in the conversation I did stop to introduce myself as someone who worked at the facility. I told him I’d taught fitness for more than a decade and if he were my client and he kept injuring the same joint in his body, I’d start to look mighty hard at the way he’s moving.

I didn’t watch him run. I didn’t even watch him walk. But I would put good money that something in his alignment and his gait is off. Whatever it is, it is likely beyond my ability to fully perceive. I suggested he seek the help of someone trained in NeuroKinetic Therapy or testing the Functional Movement System.

When you keep injuring the same part of your body, you’ve got to take a critical look at how you are using that part of the body, of course. But what NKT and FMS both share is the belief that often the issue arises somewhere else in the body. In other words, I don’t think my swimmer friend has an ankle problem per se. (Well, he probably has acquired one from scar tissue due to recurrent injury.) Rather, I would bet he’s got some “grooves” or compensation patterns where a key muscle isn’t firing when he runs. And so another muscle has to do more work than it’s designed to handle. This triggers a cascade of imbalances and/or pain.

If this sounds like a pattern your body is in, go see someone trained in NKT or FMS. You can find practitioners for NKT here and for FMS here.

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