I’m sure most of you have heard the expression or term, ‘if you don’t use it, you lose it.’ Well, there’s actually quite a bit of truth to that when it comes to the functional movement that our bodies provide us. Our bodies are designed for mobility, they are built to move, so each time we’re sedentary or inactive for extended periods of time, we’re actually denying our bodies of what it naturally needs in order to keep us healthy, not only for short term gains, but for maintaining long term health.
Unfortunately for a large percentage of the North American population, between the ages of 25 and 65, when it comes to a career, many are working at a desk, or somewhere that doesn’t promote a great deal of mobility throughout our day. With our bodies thriving off mobility, this only places added stress to our health, again, not only with short term ailments such as muscle cramping, a sore/stiff back, headaches, and conditions such as sciatica, but also with long term problems such as arthritic conditions, high blood pressure or heart disease, and osteoporosis, just to name a few. Now, while there are many acute conditions that do require immobility for a certain period of time for proper healing, you’d be surprised at how many conditions actually improve from added or continual mobility. For example, think of the joints in your body and the fluid movements that they provide like a sponge in a bucket of water. The more we move, the more fluid we provide our joints with, therefore the healthier they maintain and the more smooth range they provide us with……..much like providing water to the sponge, if there is ample supply of water in the bucket, the sponge won’t dry up and will continue to absorb and distribute water equally, however, if we deplete the sponge of water, inevitably it will dry up. Inactivity of a particular joint works much the same, if we deny that joint mobility, it loses the health and nutrients it would normally maintain through adequate circulation that keep it lubricated, and eventually it won’t grant us the functional range or movement that it once had. In short, if you want those joints working properly for a long period of time, grant them the health they require through activity on a regular basis, taking those joints through all their normal ranges.
Another example is the maintenance of strength throughout our skeletal structures. If we deny our body movement or activity, we deny our bodies of the ability to develop muscle strength and health in order to counter-act the stationary periods we put our bodies through. Our bodies rely on groups of muscles not only to propel us in certain desired directions, but to simply maintain our upright position throughout our day as well, not only with standing, but with sitting. Therefore the less active we are, the less opportunity our muscles have to develop and prevent from injury, whether it’s back pain developed over a longer period of time from sitting at that desk job, or a more acute (recent) injury as a result of trying to lift an object overhead onto a shelf. Either way, in most cases, it’s due to the lack of strength or conditioning in a particular muscle group that has caused our bodies to fail us and break down. Frequent activity or exercise is the easiest way to allow these structures to develop the strength they require to keep us not only moving, but for those times we’re required to be in one position for a longer period of time.
Most clients that I see with sciatic nerve compression (Sciatica) symptoms, or even low back pain will report worse symptoms when they first wake up in the morning or if they’ve been stationary for longer periods of time, followed by improvement once they are up and moving. The more inactive we are, the less circulation and nutrients we are providing our soft tissue structures with, therefore the more likely they will shorten or tighten up on us, creating an increase compression on the nerves supplying those muscles, as a result, increasing pain. (On a side note, weaker muscles generally will tighten or become shortened faster than stronger, conditioned muscles) It makes sense that one of the easiest long term prevention methods for these conditions is maintaining activity or frequent mobility breaks throughout the day. Again, the more mobile we are, the more circulation, nutrients, and strength we’re going to provide ourselves with to either combat such conditions, or prevent from occurring in the first place.
Aging…………..yup, like it or not, it happens to us all. When we’re kids or teenagers we think we’ll never age or our bodies will never fail us. We can go and go and go, get hurt one day, and be right back out the next, going again and again. Our bodies are young, full of developing muscles with seemingly endless elasticity. We recover incredibly fast and can take our bodies through a realm of taxing demands. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking, the same thing I’m thinking…………those were the days. And while there are certain physiological changes that our bodies inevitably go through (decrease in bone density, decrease amount of muscle mass after around the age of 30, decrease in elasticity in muscle and tendons, slower actions in cells with our immune system), as long as we continue to make activity, diet, and rest a priority in our life, we can still continue to go and go and go, get hurt, heal, recover, and go and go again throughout the duration of our lifetime. It’s no secret that as we age this does require more commitment to maintain these habits than when we were younger. The older we get, the more effort required to keep us doing all the activities we want to do, whether it’s competitive sports or just playing with grandchildren. It means setting aside more time for fitness or activity outside of work, more mobility breaks during work, and the knowledge that your body wants to be moving more than it wants to be stationary. And remember, the more exercise we do, the more energy we end up with, resulting in more restful sleeps and a sharper brain to work with for longer periods of time. It’s a chain reaction of the winning sort.
One final point I’d like to emphasize on the importance of keeping mobile, and possibly the most important in my opinion, is this; you never know when something may happen that you can’t foresee that will impact your functional mobility on a daily basis. Accidents happen all the time, conditions or diseases occur that we can’t control, and while we can’t predict the future, we certainly can do our part in maintaining the health our bodies deserve so that if something happens, we’ve given ourselves an added edge for the road to recovery. This is something we can control. Through my years of experience at Trent Health in Motion, I can tell you that those patients we see following a knee or hip replacement from Dr. Dobson that have gone into surgery promoting activity and strength throughout the involved structures, end up recovering not only at a faster rate, but minimize the risk of further conditions occurring as a result of weak or compensating structures. The healthier you are going into an unexpected condition, the less impact it will have in the long run. Build the strength and mobility now, train for life, not just the next game or race. Use what you have while you have it, and still can! Go for a walk on your lunch break, ride your bike to work, go for a morning swim or an evening walk with a loved one or friend, try a yoga class…………………..whatever you choose is up to you, but choose mobility, and choose it now.
I’m going to leave with a video clip of a former Trent Health in Motion patient that I find ties into this months’ report, and if you’re like me, you’ll find it inspiring to get out there and keep moving!! Don’t wait, don’t make excuses, get out there now! You never know what tomorrow will bring.

Carpe Diem!
Dave Kervin, RMT, SMT(cc), ART Provider
Trent Health in Motion
Trent University