As we enter the summer season here in Oregon, we are all becoming more active. Weekends are full of adventures, yard work, sports and hobbies. The weather inspires us to move, but sometimes, it is our own body that limits what we can do. Staying conditioned for activity is as important as being active in the first place! One of the biggest issues we see with both acute and chronic musculoskeletal injures are improper movement patterns. This can be something as simple as taking a dish out of the dishwasher, to loading up the car for a big weekend camping trip. HOW you move and lift is very important.
Many of us work behind a desk, behind a steering wheel, or perform repetitive movements during our work week. This will create muscle imbalances and abnormal tension due to postural or repetitive overuse issues. Much of what we see in the office is a product of these very mechanisms. A “deconditioned” desk worker has, for example, developed a tight lower back and weakened core over the years. This patient then bends forward to lift a heavy cooler full of ice and drinks for a camping trip. Picture poor lifting technique; a rounded back, weak or loose abdominal muscles, and no gluteal muscle assistance while lifting away from the body. This patient will be calling our office first thing Monday morning!
To treat and prevent these issues, Chiropractors focus on creating and maintaining full range of motion of our joints. When joints are moving smoothly and without resistance, the soft tissues that attach to, and move our joints, are also able to work with less resistance and tension. Opening a door with rusted hinges is harder than one that has just been sprayed with WD40. This analogy translates to our joint and soft tissue relationship. Our muscles will tighten and stiffen the less they are allowed to move and stretch, due to joint restrictions and improper posture. The scene is already set for an injury once our body has lost its ability to move through normal ranges of motion.
The take home message here is to keep your body tuned, especially as we are increasing our activity levels. Our body is made to operate in a large field of motion. When we sit at a desk during the week, we are losing our ability to achieve full range of motion. Chiropractic treatments, massage and acupuncture can all function to promote and restore a healthy musculoskeletal system that can best accommodate the increase in physical activity this summer.
J. Branden Garland, D.C., C.C.S.P.