Creep That Leads To Postural Insult
It is not often discussed because productivity would likely take a hit, but the human body was not designed to sit at a desk in front of a computer for hours on end, day after day, year after year. Not only do the majority of jobs today necessitate that position, but people often do not realize the extent of the damage they are creating in their soft tissues because of it. Whether it occurs ten days or ten years later, we all eventually feel the effects of poor ergonomics (through the physiological processes creep and hysteresis), and this is a crucial piece to address when trying to alleviate musculoskeletal pain.
Creep: “In material sciences, creep is the tendency of a solid material to move slowly or deform permanently under the influence of mechanical stresses. It can occur as a result of long-term exposure to high levels of stress.” (Wikipedia).
What that means in terms of our muscles, ligaments, and joints (our “solid material”) is that a sustained posture, especially poor posture, can lead to deformation of those tissues. The most noticeable symptom is pain, but pain is the last symptom to present. Before pain, there was a decrease of oxygen to the tissues, cellular death, shortening and tightening of some tissues and stretching and weakening of others. After trying to repair these harmed systems, at some point the body can no longer handle the load and that’s when we feel pain. To be clear, “sustained” does not necessarily mean hours. Creep can begin in as few as 15 minutes, but the longer the posture, the more severe the deformation.
This is why it’s absolutely crucial to take micro-breaks throughout the day. Make sure to get up from your desk (or whatever you may be doing for an extended period of time) and walk around to release those contracted hip flexors. And take a break from typing by rolling your shoulders down and back and squeezing your shoulder blades together. This helps take the tension off your back line of muscles and has also been shown to be a stress-relieving position. Trust me, your body will thank you now.. and later.