It always fascinates me how smart the body is. The body does not like to feel vulnerable.
When a trauma occurs, the nervous system actively responds to stop the problem getting worse.
A good example presented itself this morning when a Personal Training client said he had injured his big toe playing football. He had been kicking the ball with his right foot when he was suddenly tackled right on the point of striking the ball. The impact caused a lot of pain in his big toe joint and it began to bruise immediately.
He picked himself up and carried on but it was very painful. Pain is the nervous system speaking to the brain.
Not long after, he went to kick the ball with his left foot and he felt a pull in his quadriceps on his left side.
When kicking the ball with your left foot you rise up on to the ball of the right foot and extend that big toe, it is your grounding point for the body during the motion of kicking the ball.
As the big toe was already injured and locked into flexion, the body was not happy for it to go into extension. As the body could not find it's bracing point, the Motor Control Centre weakened the quad by increasing the tension in the hamstring.
The Motor Control Centre changes things in pairs, in an attempt to stop the problem getting worse.
So in this case, stretching that weakened Quadricep would only have made the problem worse.
So we relaxed the Flexor of the big toe and activated extension.
Then we calmed the tight Hamstring and stimulated the weakened Quadricep. Muscle tone returned to normal in both and we retested that leg swing.
The Big Toe will still need icing to allow the bruising to calm down, but the functional pattern is restored.
Don't just treat the site of pain. Ask why it is there.