Moving Less But Injured More

Research shows that musculoskeletal pain is more common now than it was 40 years ago. This is largely attributed to the sedentary lifestyles that we have developed. We lay down for 6 to 9 hours at night, sit down to eat breakfast, then sit in our cars to go sit at a desk for another 8 to 10 hours; only to sit in our car again to sit on a couch until we lay down again. And the cycle repeats. Even if there is a little bit of activity of walking in between our seated positions and even a workout placed somewhere in the day, there is a lot of non-movement through the average person’s day.

People have become molded by furniture, inactivity and gravity; through this, muscular dysfunction has become prevalent. Muscles will get tight from being in a flexed or contracted position too long while others will become weak because they are never used. These dysfunctions will cause the body to move in a way that is not efficient. These inefficient movement patterns will cause certain muscles to work harder than they normally would which can lead to non-contact injuries.

Non-contact injuries can be serious and may need surgery (a torn ACL) or can just be a nagging issue that you have learned to just deal with (sore lower back).

Here are four tips to reduce your chance of non-contact injuries:

  1. Move Often
    The less you sit in the same position the better. Even if you are desk bound for your job, try and get up every hour and walk around. Don’t come home and just sit. Go for a walk, do some yard work, play with your kids, exerciseanything that will keep you moving. Try to be active on the weekends too!

  2. Add Variety
    Try to add as much variety of movement to your day as possible. The risk of a muscular dysfunction becoming an injury drastically increases if you do repetitive movements. Try to add slight variations to your routine every 2 to 4 weeks.

  3. Be Mindful of Posture
    As usualmom knows best! Sitting upright and not slouching through the day will help eliminate upper body dysfunctions. Try to pull your shoulders back and down and sit/stand with a tall straight spine while at your desk and while you are exercising. 

  4. Stretch Your Strengths, Work Your Weakness
    Areas that are strong need to be stretched just as much as areas of weakness need to be strengthened. If you are over using a muscle group it will become stronger, but tighter. These muscles must be lengthened or stretched. Areas that don’t get used are being neglected through the day, therefore they will need some attention. Generally, a tight muscle will pull a joint or body part in its direction, while the opposing muscle will allow this to happen because it is weak. For example: if your shoulders round forward, stretch your chest and strengthen your upper back.

Garrett Arndt, MBA, NSCA-CPT*D, CSCS*D, CES, is a certified personal trainer at Mettler Center.

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