Statistical data suggests, that approximately 85 percent of people at some point in their lives experience back pain. The reason is obvious – constant, forced/unnatural body position, monotonous and repetitive movements during work, and long-term stress. According to physical medicine and rehabilitation doctor, neurologist, and specialist in manual therapy, Jonas Girskis, profession does not determine how healthy you may or may not become, only knowledge-based relationship with your own body can help you lead a pain-free life.
What does long-lasting static position do to your body?
Specialists at the Spine treatment centre often hear patients’ comments such as: “I am not doing anything special or extreme, I just sit at work, and relax afterwards, I do not do heavy lifting or anything, so why some of my muscles are so tense and other too loose or weak? Maybe I should start working out?” According to physical medicine and rehabilitation doctor Rūta Burzdžienė, when you sit, certain muscle groups are engaged and do the intense work while others are relaxed and loose. Prolonged sedentary position decreases certain muscles’ ability to relax and get rid of the tension, while other “lazy” muscles with time become even weaker. Those stronger muscles become unable to compensate for their weaker counterparts. Such long-lasting muscular imbalance eventually will cause not only physical discomfort or pain, but may become the reason of spine and joint structure injuries.
Greta Girskė, consulting physical therapist and the director of the Spine treatment centre, the founder of initiative “For the healthier day at work” emphasizes, that our movements are the food for our muscles and joints. Your posture and the condition of your muscles and joints reflect, what kind of movements/exercises your body does often, sometimes or never. For example, if you sit a lot and do not compensate with appropriate specific movement/exercise in a long run your body will start to hunch forward. Leaning into computer with the shoulders shrugged will allow pectoral muscles to lose their elasticity, and that will cause upper back joints disorder, which may lead to upper as well as lower back pain. Another illustration, if you usually stare at your computer with your chin brought forward, it will cause conflict between the muscles that bend your neck and those, that extend it, which will cause discomfort or pain in your neck and shoulders. Those are just a few simple examples of how we make or break ourselves.
Safely sitting at work for long hours, in front of a computer and performing same movements over and over again, eventually will cause pain and serious damage to musculoskeletal system. Long lasting, monotonous movements, when certain muscles stay tense and other always relaxed, despite of how safe it seems, are not healthy for the human body. Why? Because your body needs movement balance and variety. Same as with nutrition. To function properly and avoid chronic diseases, human body needs many different nutrients, minerals, vitamins, amino acids, etc.
Doctor J. Girskis during his 35 years-experience working with patients noticed, that the term “movement starvation” or simply put – the lack of movement variety is still incomprehensible for the majority of his patients. Common misconception of many patients sounds like that: “Something is wrong with my back, I cannot bend without some degree of pain, so it is probably herniated disc or some other spinal problem.” According to doctor J. Girskis, in most cases, spine problems start, when there is an imbalance between muscles strength, tone and length. Muscle imbalance disrupts correct spinal motion and lay the ground for degenerative processes in the vertebra.
Exercises for the spine?
According to R. Bruzdžienė, another common misapprehension from her patients is: “I work out, I exercise so I just came for some exercise ideas for my spine.” First of all, exercises for the spine alone does not exist. The spine is our central body axis and is affected by each and every motion and exercise. The fundamental question is how is it affected. Secondly, before asking for advice about workout plan, everybody should pay a visit to an experienced physiotherapist, who will identify and correct the underlying muscular imbalance, if there is one, and only then will suggest an individual exercise plan. The magic universal exercising plan for the healthy spine that fits everyone does not exist.
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