By Kyle D. McIntyre, PT, DPT, CFMT
Desk jobs, long commutes in traffic, coming home to watch TV (or use other electronic devices) is a common routine for many Americans. Our lifestyles have become increasingly sedentary. It’s not a surprise, that when the weekend comes, many of us want to be more active.
After all, we’re meant to be active, versus sitting for most of our waking hours. So, why is it on the weekends, when we do go for that run, do projects around the house, or play ball with our kids, we tend to get injured so easily?
In last week’s issue of Wellness Is Worth It, my colleague Cathy Logan wrote about the Weekend Warrior syndrome. She’s correct, this extreme shift in gears from inactivity to pushing ourselves often leads to discomfort or even higher levels of pain.
How did this happen to me?
Typically, we’re energetic as children, and continue to be recreationally or competitively active in high school and maybe into college. However, at some point, activity levels drop, whether it’s because you take a desk job, or because you’re no longer on a team vigorously exercising several times a week.
It’s science. Your body’s tissues are conditioned based on the amount of stress asked of those tissues. If you alter the amount of stress to that tissue, it will then be conditioned to that level of activity.
Going out on the weekends and increasing the stress to your body’s tissues must be good then, right? Not exactly. When tissues are stressed at a level much higher than previous recent conditioning, tissues often fail.
Other components of tissue failure: incorrect posture and movement.
Many people assume a “poor posture” when sitting at a desk, driving a car, or when they sit on the sofa. Most people are never taught how to assume a “good posture.” Think about it: no one teaches this in school; but, everyone sits and needs to know how to sit well.
It’s cumulative. Poor posture, previous injuries to your body, and changes in activity levels, also affect how your body moves in space. You likely don’t even realize when you’re compensating (for tissue damage and/or poor posture) and moving differently – which puts stress on specific other tissues, and may lead to new injuries.
What’s a ‘Weekend Warrior’ to do?
Stresses to tissues (and joints) need to be added gradually. At CH, we promote the need for balance to achieve wellness. This isn’t just a state of mind, it’s about maintaining a steady balance of physical activity, too.
When deciding you want to start being more active, take into account a gradual conditioning program.
In addition to building up your activity levels (e.g., the number of reps/weights lifted at the gym, or increasing the amount of steps taken if you track walking), do some research about the mechanics of proper movement (Functional Manual Therapy/FMT®). Doing so will help you to learn how to put fewer unnecessary stresses on tissues and joints, by assuming improved postures.
I also recommend seeking manual therapy for lingering injuries that have caused compensations in your movement patterns.
To schedule a manual therapy appointment (at which we also can work correct posture), call 410.349.9043.
Kyle is a Physical Therapist with a Doctorate in Physical Therapy; he is also a Certified Functional Manual Therapist.