Over the last decade, I have seen an unprecedented change in our lifestyles. We have become more sedentary. We have drastically increased our screen time with our electronic devices. We have spent much more time being stuck in traffic. We have shopped online more frequently than mall shopping. We are pretty much doing everything that is not what our bodies designed to do. Consequently, I started to see more and more patients, especially in their 20s and 30s coming in with chronic neck and back pain.
Since our body is a very intelligent machine, we would strategically activate our realization and self-correction protocols. Therefore, we will sign up for full marathon, golf tournament, 100km charity bike ride, and CrossFit etc. We would dive into an intensive exercise program to attempt to undo the damage that we have created, but we do not realize that our bodies do not like drastic changes. Adversely, these 'drastic changes' have created all kinds of musculoskeletal injuries! A musculoskeletal injury can present themselves as a range of disorders involving muscles, bones, tendons, blood vessels, nerves and other soft tissues.
Ironically, we would spend hours and weeks training for a sport or an activity, but we barely spend time on training for our jobs and family duties. If the job description required us to lift 50lbs weight, our max ability is usually more or less 50lbs at max. If our children ask us to go for a bike ride, we would simply do it and complain about sore joints the next day. We should perceive ourselves as athletes in our jobs. We train our body to be able to lift 100lbs so that lifting 50lbs will have a slim chance hurting our body. We should condition and strengthen our body so that we are capable of our duties and minimize our chances of getting injured. Going to work with such a low functional capacity creates a series of underlying problems in our body mechanics. When was the last time that you were able to squat all the way down with your heels sticking onto the ground? When was the last time you were able to bend over and touch your toes without bending your knees? You have probably lost these abilities since you were given your first chair in childhood.
As a Certified Athletic Therapist (and a Registered Massage Therapist) , I affirm the whole-body treatment approach!
Since our body is designed as a joint-by-joint system, compensatory strategy will take place if our brain notices any ailments in our bodies.
However, prolonged compensation will lead to uneven muscles tension throughout our kinetic chain, and we will eventually develop poor posture and biomechanics which leads to pain and injury! This is when the vicious cycle begins, pain is becoming chronic and eventually leads to premature joint degeneration. By incorporating manual treatment with corrective and strengthening exercises, patients will have deeper understanding how human movement works. We want to eliminate as many entanglements as possible before we move on to strengthening program. However, our healthcare and insurance system favor patients to get treatments after injuries happen. Not only are post-treatments far more costly, but also (may) result in less effective prognosis. Treatment happens at best prior to onset of injuries.
Let's be PROACTIVE with our bodies. You are an athlete after all! Treat yourself like one!
Written by: Simon Chow, BKin. RMT. CAT(C). R. Kin.