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        News — Back Discomfort

        Mind Your Rotator Cuff

        Mind Your Rotator Cuff

        Back and shoulder pain can mean a lot of things. However, one of the most common culprits is overuse or strain of the rotator cuff.

        The rotator cuff is a ring of muscles surrounding each shoulder joint. They’re responsible for giving the shoulders their impressive multi-directional range-of-motion. However, they are also very delicate.

         

        Many people who have overuse injuries of the rotator cuff are athletes who often make arm motions above their heads, like pitchers and quarterbacks. However, people with physically demanding jobs like stockers and construction workers can also have these problems. Further, acute issues like sprains and strains can also impact these muscles.

         

        A recurring theme throughout this article - and our website - is that overuse and damage can be prevented through careful strengthening and toning of the muscle groups. The muscles of the rotator cuff are no different, and strengthening your shoulders can help reduce pain.

         

        The bad news is that they can be difficult to target effectively. The good news is that the muscles of the chest and back do most of the heavy lifting. As a result, familiarizing yourself with exercises to develop the back and chest can help to make these injuries less likely.

        Identifying Pain

        Identifying Pain

        This is probably the most important topic we'll cover; how to identify the different types of pain and how your body communicates the level of severity.

        You might be starting a new workout routine for this new year to become stronger & healthier, or hesitant to start one if you have recently experienced pain. Learning to recognize your pain can make the difference in knowing:

        - When to start your workouts.

        - How high or low to set your goals.

        - How fast or slow to push your body.

        - The difference between soreness vs. injury.

        - What to give your body to properly recover and heal.

         

        If you struggle with discomfort or pain in your back and shoulders, working out can be the last thing on your mind. However, as counterintuitive as it may seem, working out can be one of the best things that you can do to prevent back and shoulder pain, bad posture, or even serious damage in the future.


        Knowing what exercises to do, how to incorporate them into your day, and when to give yourself a break can be the difference between a productive and comfortable day or a trip to the chiropractor.

        Learn to Recognize Pain

        Whether you’re a weightlifter, an athlete, or just have a demanding job, you know what it’s like to work through pain. Sometimes it’s what you have to do, and other-times it can actually make you feel better. However, that depends on the kind of pain that you have.

        If you have a dull, aching pain that feels like it’s coming from a large area, this is just post-exercise soreness. It comes from light wear-and-tear and the natural build-up of waste products in your muscles from exercise. Doing light, flowing exercises like stretching can help to make this kind of pain go away. Not much to worry about, just light monitoring is required to know when the muscle is ready for the next workout.

         

        If you have a sharp, stabbing pain that feels like it’s coming from a very small area, this could be the result of a muscle or tendon tear or rupture. This is serious. Try to rest and ice the area rather than working it. If the pain doesn’t go away or gets worse after a couple of days, talk to your trainer or your general care provider.

        Devolving Behind a Desk: Why Prolonged Sitting Kills Our Backs

        Devolving Behind a Desk: Why Prolonged Sitting Kills Our Backs

        Most likely, you are reading this sitting down, and possibly in front of your desktop computer. In August of 1981 IBM released the first Personal Computer (PC), the 5150. It paved the way for a revolution of modern life that made work and communication more efficient, and caused productivity, as well as professional expectations to rise. This is not an article about the history of computing, but it is an article about how such a revolutionary invention is challenging millions of years of evolution by exposing humans to prolonged periods of sitting. And it’s killing our backs!

        You see, we evolved from invertebrates to inhabit the land and in doing so were exposed to much greater forces of gravity. This led to the development of a spine around which our bodies could more easily accomplish the new tasks it was taking on. As primates and early humans began hunting and gathering, a need for improved efficiency became paramount and eventually we began to walk upright. It is at this point that the human spine began to decouple and segment into something that we would today recognize as a spine. And it all happened because we needed to move easier, with greater efficiency so we could cover vast distances in search of food, shelter, and respite from the elements.

        The Demands of Modern Life

        Today, many humans spend their days sitting behind a desk and computer or behind the wheel of an automobile. Our ancestors, with the exception of child bearers, seldom sat for prolonged periods and instead traveled long distances by foot to accomplish the days’ chores. So how is a spine designed for such arduous locomotion meant to deal with the unique stresses of prolonged periods of sitting? Well, it adapts. Much like our spine adapted to the demands of prehistoric life, our bodies are beginning to adapt to the new stresses that modern life presents. These adaptations take many millennia to achieve and the process, like most change we deal with, is painful. Before we begin to see adaptations to the structure of the body – the bones and ligaments that hold them together, we see adaptations to the muscular system, which help to position those bones and ligaments and maintain the optimal alignment of joints. When agonist & antagonist muscles develop an unbalanced relationship, it’s our joints that hurt the most. Sure, we might feel muscle tightness and aches and pains, but it’s when they truly shorten and reposition the joint alignment that we feel the debilitating aches and pains in our knees, hips, and back.

        Sitting for prolonged periods shortens muscles, specifically your hip flexors (the illiopsoas muscle). Furthermore, tight/short hip flexors inhibit the function of the antagonist group: the gluteals. The Glutes (maximus, minimus, medius) are the most powerful muscle group in our bodies – a direct result of millennia of evolution to improve efficiency of walking and running. So with tight hip flexors and weak or inhibited Glutes our pelvis, sacrum, and spinal complex is compromised from its most efficient alignment. The result is a condition known as anterior pelvic tilt, and it puts a ton of stress on the ligaments and joints of the lower back – a primary cause for chronic lower back pain!

        Your Hip Flexors

         

        Sit Up Straight and Take Action

        It’s not all doom and gloom, though! In fact, many organizations and companies today have recognized that their own demands of their employees leads to increased healthcare costs to the company and have begun to enact programs to promote employee health. The reality of business is that it often comes down to dollars and cents for leadership to buy-into employee wellness programs, and it’s not until the cost of healthcare associated with employee wellness surpasses the costs of preventative program that businesses are more willing to enact lunch hour yoga, walking meetings, after-work run clubs and similar perks.

        Yet not all businesses and organizations are as progressive and forward thinking as others, and many of us are still sentenced to 9 hour days behind a keyboard or wheel of a car. So it becomes the individual’s responsibility to advocate for their own health and wellbeing by being proactive and offsetting the imbalances formed by prolonged sitting. That’s right! It’s up to you to maintain your health, and we’re here to empower you to do so with some simple routines to combat the imbalances formed through our modern lifestyles.

        Designed For You

        We’ve provided you a free Dorsum Posture Guide for Sitting that contains simple exercises and posture cues that you can immediately apply to your daily routine. With no more than a commitment to being aware of posture, you can begin to see improvements in your posture and daily discomfort within a few weeks. For this routine you don’t need weights, you don’t need to rip your abs apart on a yoga mat (though it wouldn’t hurt!), you just need to be mindful of the commitment to improving your posture and make the best use of your down time.

        As with all adaptations, whether dictated by evolution or your fitness routine, take time. You must not expect a silver bullet to solve your low back pain and you need to be consistent in your approach to establishing a balance in your muscular system. At Dorsum, we’ll soon be releasing a discrete postural aid that you can wear daily under your usual work attire, which will help remind you to maintain proper posture throughout the day.

        Sign up to our newsletter to receive FREE weekly Perfect Posture Guides as well as product release dates and special invites to upcoming events.