All of us know of parents, grandparents, neighbors, anyone that comes into your mind that you have noticed a change in their posture over the years. Is this now happening to you? Maybe? Changing posture is a very insidious occurrence. We don’t physically notice the changes until we can no longer reach high up in the cabinet for that special bowl we need. Or, our lower back becomes stiff from sitting for even as much as 20 minutes. Or we can no longer squat to the ground as we were once able. Or turning your head as you back up your car is now either stiff or painful. You then develop alternative methods because you can no longer perform these movements. Why is this? Losing the range of motion in any one joint causes changes and alterations in many other areas in your body that you are not aware of! This is especially true when there is not a traumatic event to associate the changes with. Let us review a few reasons why this occurs and then a few methods to combat the soft tissue changes that ultimately change our posture.
Soft Tissue Has Power!
Normally, we do not think of our soft tissues has having power, but they certainly do. Fascia, the newest accepted organ of the body is meant to be strong, elastic, and slide and glide as we move. It has a covering, whether thick or thin, over every part and parcel in our body. Fascia is strong and is known to have contractile powers, yet not eccentric abilities. Eccentric means the ability for a tissue, as in muscle to contract, yet become long at the same time. This means that fascia once contracted repeated over time may have the tendency to want to remain in the position. This is one reason that creates abnormal forces on tendons and joints. With this being said, static postures that is your worst repetitive motion, awkward postures, highly repetitive motions without rests, unexercising, incorrect food intake, emotional stressors, all together form to create changes within your body that you cannot detect until; until you cannot turn your head normally until you cannot squat to the floor normally until you cannot reach high into the cabinet for the bowl, and until you feel that stiffness upon standing when only sitting for 20 minutes. All of this changes your posture. Now you may notice that increased thoracic curve if looking in the mirror, or your shoulders are so far forward, you have these indents between your pecs and collar bones.
Regain Your Power Over Your Soft Tissue!
I am not the pessimist or fatalist. I am heralding a trumpet call for any individual that really wants to create optimal changes in their body. Even if you have Parkinson’s, you can maintain optimal postures for much longer periods of time. My husband is proof of this. What are some methods to create changes for an optimal body posture? It does demand commitment of daily work, 5 – 10 minutes. Your diligence will pay off. Will the changes happen quickly? It takes the time it takes. The more time you put into this the faster the results. And, no, the results are not permanent. This is a lifestyle change. First, you want to take a baseline of where you are in your joint motions:
Since pictures are worth a thousand words, here are movements that are considered normal and you should strive for:
Thank you SFMA for this picture!
These movements should not cause pain! Do not attempt if you already know you have joint movement challenges in any of these areas. This is meant to bring to your attention how malleable we can still become.
STRATEGIES TO INCREASING YOUR OPTIMAL POSTURE AND MOVEMENT
Many of us have challenges in one or more joints. Choose the least restricted joint and begin to slowly use a dynamic movement, rather than a prolonged stretch, to increase the range of motion. Laying down is a great method to use for neck, shoulders, hips, knees, and low back. Remember, this is how babies begin to increase their range of motion and strength; they are laying down first because they do not have the trunk control sit up. So, babies begin by wiggling and jiggling, and discovering a hand, a foot, and work on that movement. They do not know they are exercising and increasing in the range of motion along with muscle strength and control.
The best method is to contact a professional to educate, teach, and empower you to optimize your soft tissue so you have power over your soft tissue!
SERIES 2 : YOU CAN EXERCISE WHILE WORKING AT YOUR DESK
To recap the first series on working from home, we focused on the chair. If the equipment you will be using for extended periods of time doesn’t fit, you will be sore, achy and miserable. And, this is not the goal. Monitoring height and placement of a keyboard and mouse are as important; that will be in another series. So, we must think, humans are meant to move and not be sedentary. The voluminous amounts of research that reports the deleterious affects metabolically, physically and emotionally are almost scary to think of what we are doing to ourselves. There is no one to blame but yourself. If you are reading this, then the likely hood that you desire changes that can fit into a hectic lifestyle that you may not have the ability to control well are high. This short paper is only to begin to introduce to you the idea, developing the commitment and carry through, as many of us want the change, but never seem to get there. So, the concepts you will learn are:
You never arrive nor attain – you are always in a state of arriving and changing.
Routine is in the commitment of daily. Yes, daily. No days off to speak of.
Moldability is the ability to adapt to time, internal awareness of yourself, (physically and emotionally), and change what you do and how you do it that day.
Your imagination is your own limitation. Learn to build from concepts about yourself, your capabilities to build a tool box with the learning you might garner here.
True honesty about yourself. Only you know about you. And, most of the time, it takes a life time learn about ourselves – the reason why human factors is such a difficult area. We don’t know ourselves like we think we do.
THE 15 MINUTE OR LESS RULE
Our company performs a lot of surface electromyography (Semg) on employees and clients. Why? This information allows us to visually see how the muscle that the sensor is on is working. Years of research now shows that muscles fatigue rate can be faster or they can mis-fire secondary to a multitude of reasons. What is consistent in 99% of people we use Semg on is that the muscle show patterns of fatigue well before the person is even slightly aware of any fatigue, soreness, stiffness, or other physical symptom. Our data shows that muscles begin to show changes around the 13 minute mark of static positions, repetitive motions, or heavy lifting. The question now becomes whether the fatigue is good or not good. This requires the professional to understand how to read and interpret the findings. In our case here for the person that spends many hours at a computer, upper trapezius and spinal erector muscles fatigue quickly. More so in women than men. Forearm extensor muscles also fatigue prior to 15 minutes from use of the keyboard and mouse. PPS has not tested, but the data is out there that the gluteal muscles we sit on for such long periods of time begin to lose their speed of firing. Yes, the gluteal muscles work because we are standing and walking, but at a slower rate and not as many muscle fibers fire. This now adds to the complexity of why so many people have joint and tissue problems. Other muscles must take up the slack that other muscles are not performing. Mind you, all of this is taking place and you are not aware of it. It is something that you don’t feel, until so many changes have taken place, joint problems, pain patterns set in.
What Happens Every 15 Minutes?
You must find a timer that will reset every 15 minutes. When the timer goes off, you will change your posture, and perform one exercise and one stretch. It will be in the developing of this repertoire that will make you successful. The success will come in various positive adjustments:
You are now consistently consistent with the 15 minute protocol.
Instead of noticing that right upper trap trigger point at 2 hours, you don’t notice it until later in the day, followed by not at all!
Your stamina is increasing, which, means you are increasing in strength.
You may not be as irritable, because now you are accomplishing much more than the work you are employed to do, but at the same time, you are exercising, a commodity that is a necessity not a novelty. And the quality of work produced is better, because you are better focused on work than that tight low back or sore lateral elbow.
Interacting with the family is not a chore now.
This list is endless.
You know, we are not rubber bands and don’t “stretch” like we think. Yes, there are many elastic components in our body; none the less we are not rubber bands. Our tissues actually slide, glide, through and around each other that creates the movement. And our tissues are very well connected, like a forest of spider webs after a light misty rain. When you “stretch” you are encouraging tissue gliding to its fullest capacity. In the beginning, stretching is often frustrating, because we are now very aware of how tight and adhesed our tissues have become. Using the 15 minute rule, you will see changes quicker. THE MOST IMPORTANT RULE WITH ANY STRETCH IS THE QUALITY OF THE MOVE AND ALWAYS TO NO PAIN!
Quality ensures the optimal movement and the NO PAIN says you are not being aggressive, which, can damage tissues you are attempting to become more flexible and strong.
Any exercise holds the same truth: Quality not quantity and to NO PAIN. Exercises serves many purposes:
To optimize movement patterns
The number 3.) is where you will be taking your best guess, as there is no professional to watch, guide, and teach you the correct movement from the wrong movement. This is a kinesthetic exercise as well. You must think about the movement: how does it feel, and where? Is one side easier than the other? And watching YouTube may not give you the answer, because you are not that person you are watching. You have a different life history, different medical or physical abilities or challenges, and certain different tissue adhesions. So, here we will make the beginning easy and have more writing on what is and is not the way to perform an exercise. And do not hesitate to contact us so we can help through video conferencing.
FOREARMS / UPPER TRAPEZIUS / NECK
How often we take for granted a part of our body until we cringe at the thought of picking up something small. Much of the time it is due to the forearm tissues being so adhesed that the smallest of function required causes pain.
When stretching, you can use them as a slow movement or hold for 5 – 10 seconds. Holding a stretch for longer periods of time, slows down the speed of the muscle firing ability for a while. Not a bad thing after a work out. But during the day, using these as slow movements helps to restore normal firing patterns in addition to the all important tissue gliding.
We focus on the wellness of individuals using a unique, multifaceted approach. Our techniques to normalize movement patterns, as well as increase strength and stamina, are proven in both industrial and private settings. Our approach saves companies unnecessary expenditure on workers compensation claims.
We continue to seek the best means in technology, manual therapies, and movement re-training to empower all clients. We will always provide superior and customized attention to all clients so they may achieve their mission.