We all do them. No matter what you call them. ADLs – activities of daily living.
Everything from ironing to washing up; hoovering to loading the dishwasher; chopping vegetables to car maintenance, polishing shoes to hair styling; putting on socks to making the bed.
There are so many activities that we fill our days with that it is no surprise at all that we struggle to find time to ‘look after ourselves’.
The majority of these ADLs do, however, have one thing in common. Especially the ones that are performed whilst standing up. They are static activities. They require a significant level of immobility. And the vast majority of them involve just a slight angle of forward bend in your lower spine. Herein lies the general problem with ADLs. They can, quite literally, lead to a pain in your backside. The position you need to maintain, in addition to immobilising the joints in your spine for prolonged periods of time, place an enormous amount of strain on the WRONG muscles.
There are two types of muscle in your back, especially your lower back. Some of the muscles are postural muscles, designed for holding you in one position, whilst others are specifically designed (or evolved) to be locomotor or moving muscles. These are supposed to move you into a position and then relax, whilst the postural muscles hold you up against gravity in your chosen standing or seated position.
Humans did not evolve to be immobile. They evolved to be constantly moving and changing position.
This is why the human body is equipped with all of the joints and muscles to allow and create movement. When you stand in a slightly bent forward position for a prolonged period, therefore, the postural muscles in your back face demands upon them that they were never designed to meet. Eventually then, the locomotor muscles in your back are eventually recruited as postural muscles when the postural muscles themselves become tired.
There are two ways to approach this. One strategy is to take regular ‘mobility’ breaks whilst performing static activities of daily living. This could entail performing a mobile ADL in between two static ADLs. The other method of coping is to complete your immobile activity and, directly afterwards, perform some maintenance exercises to prevent the gradual accumulation of passive muscular tension and ensuing symptomatic pain.
Whatever you do and however you compensate for it – mobility is the key! At The Moballise Physiotherapy Clinic there is a mantra:
IMMOBILITY IS THE ENEMY. MOBILITY IS YOUR FRIEND.