Welcome to the first in a series of posts that we will be presenting in a Q & A format. This first one comes in collaboration with our own Alex Famodu and is part 1 of 2. Part 1 contains questions regarding movement for the general population and part 2 will go more into movement for athletes.
For those of you unfamiliar, Alex is our rehab technician and soon to be certified exercise physiologist through the American College of Sports Medicine. Before receiving is B.S. in Kinesiology from VCU, Alex played college baseball at St. Peter’s College in Pennsylvania. After transferring to VCU, he captained their club baseball team to a #6 ranking in the nation. With playing baseball competitively now behind him, Alex has turned his passion for athletics toward sports science research and performance coaching and he has become a vital addition to the physical therapists assisting both the clinicians and patients with rehab programming.
Alex: What should the general population do to becoming better at movement?
Andrew: I think the general population just needs to move MORE. Most people aren’t as active as they should be; whether that’s because they sit a lot for their jobs or because they are older and retired and now just don’t move as much as they did when working. The data tells us that over 60% of Americans are not even getting the MINIMUM recommended amount of exercise a day, which is only 30 minutes! One of the easiest ways to achieve this is by walking.
For people who sit at a desk all day, consider the fact that they are driving to work (sitting), then at work (sitting), eating meals (sitting), driving home (sitting), and then maybe watching TV or on the computer in the evening (more sitting). People get overly concerned about “posture” and “alignment” when the fact is they just need to change positions more often and get up from sitting more frequently. If you find it truly challenging to move or exercise for more than 30 minutes at one stretch, doing several short bouts of activity sprinkled throughout the day can still be very effective.
One simple strategy I recommend is to set a timer on your watch or phone so every 30-60 min you get up and take a short walk, whether it’s to the bathroom or to get a drink of water, or just to step outside and get some fresh air.
Alex: Does the movement and exercise we do (supposed to do) correlate with less pain?
Andrew: What often is forgotten when we discuss associations between things is that correlation doesn’t equal causation. Far too often, issues and statements that become popular when it relates to lifestyle and health are overly reductionist. As far as movement related to pain, I think we can agree that there is a general association with people who are more active having less pain, but because pain is such a complicated multi-system experience, we don’t yet have the research to definitively say that.
However, we do know that there certainly is a correlation with being more active and an improved general health status. For things like heart disease and diabetes, the research is very clear that being regularly active is a very important factor in helping reduce the incidence of these “lifestyle” afflictions. Newer research is even showing that the risk for developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease can also be reduced with regular exercise.
Another way that movement can possibly help with people having less pain is through activity tolerance and exposure. The more you do, the better and efficient you become at doing those things. If you practice moving frequently in a variety of ways, you make yourself more prepared for unforeseen challenges.
Pain usually precedes actual tissue damage and pain is one of the primary ways your body protects you. If you find yourself doing something you haven’t done for a while or unfamiliar, the soreness and discomfort that you often feel is from using your body in ways that it hasn’t been used to, and for some people, this can be perceived as painful. Soreness like this can last 24-48 hours and is considered normal and after a brief recovery period, you’ll be ready to move again and your body will adapt by becoming stronger, more mobile, etc.
Bottom line- moving frequently with some variety is a great way to make you more resilient to whatever life throws at you!
Thanks for reading!