If you’re reading this blog post and you are 100% pain free, you can stop reading it right now.
Ok, we lost maybe 1% of people that actually came to this blog post. For the rest of you, here we go!
The question is this: Why are so many people in pain everyday when the resting state of the human body is supposed to be pain free?
Over the past decade, I’ve had the opportunity to work with people as a personal trainer, strength coach, and a physical therapist. One thing in common with all of these people was that every one of them had daily pain. Now, that seems obvious that someone coming to see me as a physical therapist has pain, but what about as a personal trainer or coach? As a trainer I was shocked to see the first thing we needed to do was work on getting back into some pain-free movement.
Solving chronic pain for people long term comes down to two things: Do they have enough range of motion or mobility to perform a task, and do they have enough control over that movement to be able to do it correctly?
It’s a simple answer, yet very complex at the same time.
To make matters worse we are becoming increasingly more sedentary, weaker, and life is over all just becoming easier. Think about it. You don’t even need to drive somewhere to pick up food anymore. You can literally just use Uber Eats to get a pint of ice cream from Jeni’s Ice Cream and some Pad Thai from your favorite Thai restaurant at the same time. Don’t want to go get groceries? No worries, Amazon has you covered and will deliver pretty much whatever groceries you want to your house.
So what does all this cool convenience mean to us? Less and less non-exercise based movement. Unless you have a manual labor job, you use your body far less than it’s designed to be used.
You hear people say all the time about their grandparents that “they don’t make people like they used to.” Those were some hearty Depression Era people. Well, physiologically and genetically we haven’t changed in the last 100 years. What has changed? My grandfather grew up on a farm and stopped going to school in 4th grade to help take care of that farm full time. He then spent 30 years in the Navy and did other manual jobs like a mechanic for the rest of his career after that. He lived what some would consider a hard life, but he was also lucky because he had to use his body day in and day out. He didn’t have to get to the gym and try to engineer work, he literally just worked.
Today we use things like Assault Bikes, Concept 2 Rowers, and True Form Treadmills to build a “bigger engine.” As great as it is to get cardiovascularly fit, it should just be a piece of the equation. A large portion of what we do should be non-exercise based movement. As my good friend Kelly Starrett says, “Train less and move more.”
Here’s some examples of ways to improve your movement during the day.
Standing desk- Even though you aren’t technically moving, it gives you options. You can change your stance, you can stand on one leg, you can move around easier. It’s a hell of a lot better than just sitting all day long.
Walk more- Take a couple short breaks per day and walk around. If you have business calls to make, do them walking. If you eat your lunch fast, you can get a 20-30 minute walk in during your lunch hour. Walk to work if it’s close enough. Walk to the park instead of driving the half mile it takes to get there. Walk your dog, he needs it. Just walk more. We’re the best walkers in the world.
Commute to work- If you live in a city where you can walk or ride your bike to work, that’s huge. Get some of your movement in with something you have to do anyway: be at work! Some big companies like MailChimp here in Atlanta are even incentivizing their employees to ride their bike to work. I think this is a genius idea.
Sit on the ground- Sitting on the ground is kind of uncomfortable. Because of that we have to change positions more frequently and the pressure of the ground in our muscles/fascia can be a really good thing. Get off the couch and watch Game of Thrones on the ground instead.
Hang- Find a tree limb, pull-up bar, or back of a stair case and try to hang for 2-5 minutes per day. We have some amazing shoulders and we rarely do anything overhead anymore. Hanging is a great way to get some movement in your shoulders and build some grip strength at the same time. It’s literally as easy as just grabbing something and holding on until you have to let go.
Try to engineer some more non-exercise based movement into your day and your body will feel so much better. The resting state of the human body should be pain free. If you’re in pain everyday that’s not normal. You should see someone to help alleviate pain and get a game plan together of how to keep yourself healthy long term. If you’re in the Atlanta or Decatur area, we would love to help you with this. If you’re not, seek out the help of a qualified medical professional.
The body demands movement. Either you give it what it wants or it’s going to break down on you. Try and move an extra hour a day for the next week. It may be the most important change you could make to your long-term health.
-Dr. Danny, PT, DPT, OCS, CSCS
Dr. Danny and Dr. Jackie's views on performance improvement, injury prevention and sometimes other random thoughts.