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Understanding Load vs. Capacity: Unraveling the Mystery of Injuries and Pain

"Why did I get injured? Why do I have pain?" These questions often echo in our minds when we find ourselves facing physical discomfort or grappling with an injury. The answers to these queries can be uncovered by delving into the intriguing concept of load versus capacity. To get a clearer picture, let's start by defining these two crucial terms:

Load: Load is the amount of activity or stress that we subject our bodies to. It encompasses the physical demands we place on our bodies, such as lifting weights, running, sitting for extended periods, or even daily activities like carrying groceries, bending, or walking.

Capacity: On the other hand, capacity refers to the body's ability to handle the stress and activities it encounters at any given moment. It's essentially the threshold of what your body can manage without adverse consequences.

Here's the crucial aspect to grasp – our capacity is dynamic and influenced by the load we impose on our bodies daily. The human body is incredibly resilient and designed to adapt to the various loads it encounters. This adaptability allows us to become stronger and more adept at handling the activities and stressors we engage with regularly.

Now, you might be wondering, "If our bodies can adapt to load, why do injuries occur?"

Injuries happen when the amount of load experienced by the body exceeds its current capacity, and it does so at a rate faster than the body can adapt to this increased demand. In essence, an injury is the result of pushing the body beyond its limits. It's akin to overloading a bridge with more weight than it can bear – eventually, something gives way. The same principle applies to our bodies. When we push them beyond their current capacity, they respond with pain.

Pain is the body's warning system, signaling that you have surpassed your current capacity. It's a red flag, telling you to slow down, take a step back, and allow your body to recover and adapt. Dismissing this warning can lead to more severe consequences, potentially resulting in an injury. Consider it as your body's way of saying, "Hey, slow down, you're pushing me too hard."

When you're injured, your body's ability to engage in various activities and cope with stress decreases. Your capacity has been temporarily lowered, and it's essential to acknowledge this change. Recovering from an injury often involves rebuilding your capacity through rehabilitation and rest, gradually working your way back to your previous level of activity.

So, in the grand narrative of load versus capacity, understanding these concepts can help you take better care of your body. It's not just about pushing your limits but doing so mindfully and gradually, allowing your body the time it needs to adapt and grow stronger. By listening to the language of pain and respecting your capacity, you can minimize the risk of injuries and continue to enjoy an active, fulfilling life.

Check out this Technique peek video outlining how to systematically progress your patients exercise program without overloading their capacity.

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