Do you sit too much? Are you too sedentary? Do you stay in the same posture for too long?
Being stationary for long periods (greater than 45 minutes) is a health hazard. Sitting or standing without moving and changing posture is the problem.
Many body aches & pains attributed to ageing are more probably related to inactivity – our sedentary lifestyle… There is normal loss of muscle strength, mass, and speed (fast twitch fibres) as we age, but inactivity exaggerates this loss, and causes it to occur at a much younger age.
Many of us are now too sedentary: Sitting at a desk, eating lunch at the desk, long transit times, sitting or standing stationary, sitting at cafes & restaurants, stationary while using phone, iPad, computer, or watching TV, and so forth.
Inactivity can lead to increased body fat, weakening of connective tissues, loss of muscle strength & tone, loss of bone density, loss of our core and antigravity muscle systems which hold us upright, and keep our spines extended.
In a weakened state it is easier to strain the body structures. Consider how we may sit all week, then do something active eg garden on the weekend, and end up sore on Monday. Sometimes it’s just simple activities such as home chores like vacuuming, a sneeze or cough, an awkward lift, or even simply drying your hair, which can cause strain. It starts as a minor niggle when you do it and the next day you may have a full blown spasm & pain. Additionally being in sustained positions like sitting, long standing, slumping can lead to over loaded tissues and slow onset muscle & soft tissue aches & pain.
Being sedentary can also be a health risk, similar to smoking adding to your cancer & cardiovascular risk. In addition this problem can be compounded by pressures: high WORK LOAD, high STRESS, poor CONTROL.
Why do we hurt?
The “hurt” comes from the danger nerve endings becoming activated. These messages then are passed up to the brain. The brain processes everything (usually unconsciously), including your stress, sleep levels, and how you are thinking and feeling, and if threat is perceived, then pain is produced. Pain gets your attention, so some action can be taken.
This makes pain complex. It’s not simply the body strain or pathology. For example if you have had pain before and and are expecting it, then pain is more likely to occur, even if strain is very light. Additionally, you will often feel more pain if you are stressed, tense or fatigued, than if you are feeling well and energised.
As we get older the commonest cause of aches and pains is the slow build up over time, as a result of accumulation of many factors, including being sedentary, tension & long held postures.
Imagine a glass (being your brain) filling with water (your accumulating factors) until it overflows, leading to strains, aches & pains. Acute injuries which occur with trauma events such as sports or accidents can occur, but are usually a less common cause, as we get older.
What can we do to get well?
In part the solution is simple…
√ Move more
√ Change your posture regularly
√ Reduce tension
√ Build your fitness
√ Restore your strength
√ But the path can be difficult. It may take time, and you need to be patient. It took time to get this way, so it will take time to correct it. There is no quick fix. It requires a long term change to your lifestyle and habits, and this can be hard. It’s not simply taking a magic pill.
√ You may need guidance from a health professional like a physiotherapist to help balance the way between restoring movement and not flaring up your aches & pains.
√ In some situations attention to posture is even more important:
• if you have osteoporosis or are older to avoid increased curvature to your upper back or head forward posture, which can be a health risk.
• Some specific conditions like sacro-iliac joint pain or spondilolythesis (where lower vertebrae are not fused).
√ Prevention is the best solution – get MOVING before pain starts…
• Educate yourself: Enrol in our next Bones of Steel Yoga program
• Motivate yourself:Enrol in our NEW Integrative STRENGTH TRAINING Program
Simple TIPS to get moving and reduce aches & pains
• Avoid OVERLOADING your muscles & body structures – avoid too much sitting or standing stationary
• CHANGE your posture regularly ie don’t stay in the same position too long – this is more important than trying to be in perfect posture
• Sit to Standing Desk – make sure it can electrically go up & down, and doesn’t require you to strain by lifting it up
• Stand up & move when on the phone
• Get up to walk about ie speak to some one, get water, etc
• Encourage standing & walking meetings
• Look at your work environment ie health buildings rating, add some greenery
• Reduce your TENSION – conscious relaxation, slow long abdominal breathing
• Add some exercises to your workplace ie simple resistance band exercises or yoga
• Consider how you move in your whole life – work, recreation, socialising, commuting, leisure
• Get some photos of how you operate in your work place – the physio may be able to advise how you can reduce strain with simple changes
• Consider your HABITS to how you do things – are they causing you strain? You may not be conscious of these things, so have some one look from an external view point i.e. work colleague.
• Use TECHNOLOGY to help – use a device to see how much movement you do daily ie movement monitor like phone app, watch, Fitbit etc
• Find ways to move with comfort, and remember MODERATION; we don’t want to be sedentary, but at the other end we don’t want to over exercise or move beyond our levels of health & fitness, and end up overloading our bodies. Build up slowly over time.
MOVEMENT is the key to better health & well being, and a life with less (no) pain…
Regular Strength Training, General Yoga/Tai Chi and Specialised Yoga Programs like Bones of Steel Yoga can be great long term tools to help you age well and reduce health risks & aches & pains.
Yoga Plus Therapies offers:
√ Individualised Physiotherapy, Yoga Therapy, Strength Training to get you back on track and support you for your future goals like well being, travel, sport, hobbies, etc…
√ Strength Training with Resistance Bands & Body Weight – a simple strength program you can do at home or when you travel
√ Ongoing Yoga Classes which especially focus on mobility, postural strength, tension reduction and well being
√ Bones of Steel Yoga – a specialised yoga program for bone strength to aid osteoporosis management or prevention
√ and the NEW Integrative STRENGTH TRAINING Program using resistance bands (or pullies), and free weights – this is a quick efficient way to strength training incorporating exercises which co-ordinate and train the lower body, core/spine, and upper body together as “one”, in an integrated way. Requires a little practice but feels great and can give great functional strength results for every day life and sports.