Sports injuries are usually not subtle. Tension in the underlying tissues results from acute acceleration or deceleration movements. For example, we see this with a check into the boards,
a tackle from the side,
or a crash over the handlebars.
Some sports injuries are a lot less dramatic, yet still involve movement. We see this in stress fractures, plantar fasciitis and shin splints in runners,
or in the gradual disc degeneration in spines of motorcycle racers.
But one of the much more frequent injuries I see in my office today is the NON-sports injury, caused by the complete LACK of movement. Otherwise known as STATIC TENSION, the condition can best be illustrated by trying to freeze like a statue, with two hand-weights held out to the horizon.
Even if the weights are small, this position can cause acute pains if the muscles don’t move for extended times.
Yet today, we freeze our muscles for long hours at our desks. Even with no weights in our hands, we tense our muscles, ready to pounce on the next stroke on a keyboard.
This static tension produces similar results to sports injuries, such as sore shoulder tips, necks, upper and lower back muscles, stiff knees, and leg cramps.
At a cellular level, here’s how it works. Each cell in our body needs circulation, to provide incoming food and oxygen, and to carry off the waste products of metabolism. Our muscles get this circulation only BETWEEN beats of contraction/relaxation. Normally, this works fine, as the human body was designed for hunting and gathering, moving all our waking hours.
However, the modern work place has replaced movement with stasis. With legs folded tight under our chairs, our necks craned forward, our shoulder-tips raised, and our knuckles white, we freeze our muscles in the name of progress. Trouble is, when the work day is over and we try to stand up, it gets pretty ugly.
Our legs betray us, our heads can hardly swivel to look for oncoming traffic, and we continue to wear our shoulders as ear-rings. The muscles have been effectively starved of circulation for hours, and respond with expected results.
So when you are at a work station, remember to be kind to your muscle cells. Ease up that static tension, and move at least a few times an hour, to allow precious food and oxygen to fuel your cells again. It could be a simple shoulder-roll, a pulling together of the shoulder blades, or standing up to twist your torso to the left and right a couple of times. It could be as easy as straightening one leg at a time under the table during a meeting, or as subtle as rising up on your heels when you are standing in conversation or at a work station. When you do get away from work itself, make a point of climbing stairs, walking quickly, or pursuing any active movement, from dance to tennis, or from yoga to gym work.
In any event, stop letting your work station give you the non-sports injuries of static tension. Your muscles will definitely serve you a lot better.