The Only Healthy Posture: About ADHD and Preventing Chronic Pain

by Dr. Christopher on February 21, 2011

The only healthy posture is one that’s always changing.  ~ Stuart McGill

Courtesy of chris.corwin

“Sit still!” yells the teacher to a ten-year-old child in class.

The fidgeting, the moving, the talking, the symptoms of ADHD or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (sometimes known as “ADD”: all are signs of a brain that is crying out for movement (and is trying to use that excess sugar from the soda, candy, and carbohydrate-rich foods).

Movement (exercise and other activities of daily living) is like a vitamin that your nervous system needs to express health.  It is actual neurological input that creates more nerve-nerve connections.  More nerve communication means better thinking and better movement in your life.  It also allows for efficient use of sugar in your blood, preventing conditions like diabetes, and balanced hormonal interplay, keeping you happy.

Movement distributes loads throughout all parts of the body, never allowing load to exceed capacity, thereby preventing adhesion (scar tissue) and pain in your future.

Load & Capacity: Explaining All Pain

All musculoskeletal problems are a result of load exceeding capacity, which is exactly when symptoms such as pain begin.

Load is how much you ask your body to do.

If you run 10 miles, you place 10 miles of load on your body.

On a parts level, if your right leg is 10% weaker than your left, then your left leg ran 11 miles while your right leg ran 9 miles.

On a muscular level, if your hamstring is 10% weaker on your right leg than the left, then your right quadriceps ran 11 miles while your right hamstring ran 9 miles.

Capacity is how much load your body can handle without damage.

When load is less than capacity, nothing is injured.

When load exceeds capacity, pain and injury occur.

Movement, especially outside of what you do at the gym, by taking breaks from sitting or typing on the keyboard, is the key to keeping the load on specific areas of your body low.

The Most Common Musculoskeletal Condition in the Body

By always changing postures, you vary the loads put on all parts of your body, stretching and shortening different tissue, always allowing the traffic of blood flow to move through your body.

Thus, adhesion (dense connective tissue that acts like super glue preventing efficient use of your muscles), or scar tissue (implying damage), is prevented from accumulating.  Adhesion is the preferred term for use because it is all encompassing.

Adhesion is the most common musculoskeletal condition in the body.  In fact, it’s present in 100% of human beings in the world, and likely present in many other animals in the world.  But it isn’t like as common in wild animals because they move as they were intended to, while our pets and ourselves do not.

Remember, adhesion is only a problem when it causes load (work that a specific muscle must do) to exceed capacity (your body’s ability to do that work).

Adhesion formation has two causes, of which, the second is much more common:

1.  Trauma

If you cut your arm, scar tissue will be laid down in order to heal you.

2.  Hypoxia (lack of oxygen)

When load exceeds capacity, even if slightly, and over long periods of time, adhesion results.

This occurs when you have sustained or repeated muscular contractions, or when muscles are shortened or lengthened for long periods of time.

Lack of movement increases tension in areas of your body. 

Blood vessels are narrowed and the traffic of blood cannot get through.

Because red blood cells carry oxygen, an environment of reduced oxygen occurs.

No oxygen creates free radicals, which are like pinballs bouncing around your body, causing structural damage (and also cancer, but that’s for another conversation).

The body sees damage and repairs the damage with scar tissue or adhesion.

Adhesions from sitting are very common in several key places that cause back and hip pain, degeneration, and arthritis:

  • low back muscles – particularly the multifidus, a key stabilizing muscle of the low back.  Your back flattened against the back of a chair lengthens this muscle.  Remember, stretching tissues for too long decreases blood flow and oxygen, causing adhesion build up.
  • hip flexors – particular the psoas, which is located on the front of the spine in your abdomen (This is the most common muscle I treat in practice because it is ALWAYS involved in low back and hip pain).  Sitting shortens the psoas.  Shortening for too long has a similar cellular effect as lengthening.  It causes adhesion.
  • gluteal muscles and hip capsule– located in your butt cheek, the latter is often responsible for pinching in the front of the hip when people squat.  Sitting, with the help of gravity, puts the weight of your torso right on your bum.  And too much pressure stops blood flow from getting into your bum, causing adhesion.  This is why sciatica is so prevalent.

Adhesion causes the body to work at less than optimal levels due to a diminished capacity, making you weaker than you are.

Lack of Movement Guarantees Pain in Your Life

Here are 7 Guidelines towards preventing pain in your life.

As a rule of thumb, whenever you have the chance to move in a different way, whether it be walking around or playing a new sport, do it.

Your body was designed to move throughout the day in many ways.  Only with frequent movement can you prevent the accumulation of adhesion and prevent pain in your life.

My grandmother, affectionately known as “Babci“, did move frequently throughout the day, but then spent the last five hours hours before sleep every night on the couch.  It caught up with her in the year before her death.

For anyone who has had a similar experience of watching a loved one suffer from extreme pain or suffering, you have my empathy.  But—and this is very important—pay attention to this life lesson and make sure to always keep your health a priority.

And remember, those children don’t have ADHD.  They just need to move more.  They’re brains are begging them to.

One of my favorite ways to move after sitting for a long period of time is to clean the house.  What’s your favorite type of non-exercise movement?

I appreciate Billy Gregson, for helping me communicate my words to you.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Kevin February 28, 2011 at 8:45 pm

My favorite type of non-exercise movement by far is cooking. Don’t like doing the dishes after but enjoy cooking. Oh by the way went to a chocolate festival on saturday. Yeah it was good and bad a the same time.

Dr. Christopher February 28, 2011 at 8:48 pm

You’re right. Chocolate is so good! And so bad! I find that I actually like washing the dishes afterwards as long as it is organized. I focus on staying in the present and prefer to wash them by hand instead of the dish washer.

When you are a master of cooking like you or I are Kevin, how can you not like it?

lorie smith May 25, 2011 at 10:11 am

my son is seventeen years old. he has played football sence he was in the third grade. now he plays on a varcity team and is one of the top players. for the last two years he has been playing with lower back pain. his doctor kept telling us oh it is just football. i took him to a new doctor and the mri said he had a slight herniated disk and narrowing of the nerve. he is 6’5 and weights 300 lbs and has grown this tall excedenly in the past three years it seemed like over night. he wants releif his pain even hurts when he throws shot put. but we are scared of surgery. we do not want to make the problem worse and he is so young. we have an appointment with a specialist. but we just want advice that may help him without surgery before we go so we know some of our options. he wants to play perf. someday and i believe that dream that he can make it. doctors have told him that his left side is not getting the stretching that the right side is. could this be the cause of his back pain he was big as a baby 12 lbs and was 26 inches long. could all of this be the cause of some of his back problems. thank you. please help in any way posible we want to be prparered before we go to specialist. worried mother

Dr. Christopher May 25, 2011 at 6:42 pm

Lorie … please, please, please go to a good Active Release Technique Doctor. I’m not sure where you live, but type in your zip code here to find one. If you tell me where you live, I may know of some in the area?

I’ll say it again. 80-90% of all pain is caused by scar tissue in the body. Most healthcare practitioners fail to address it or EVEN TALK ABOUT IT. Depending on how humble the doctor is, he or she will tell you if your son can be helped.

Go to an ART doctor and keep me updated. I sincerely doubt that your son needs surgery. Most people don’t.

lorie smith May 26, 2011 at 12:55 am

Dr. Christopher
thank you so much for responding. i live in clovis new mexico. my son wants so much to play his last year with his team mates. he graduates next year. and i know him he will face the pain head on to keep from being off the team. i do not want that i want him to get relief. if there is an art doctor close by i will do my best to get him there
thank you again….lorie

Dr. Christopher May 26, 2011 at 8:39 am

It looks like Dr. Andrew Mager is your best option in Amarillo, Texas. His info…

There may be a doctor closer that works with scar tissue as I’m not on the ART provider network myself. My suggestion is to use your social network on facebook. Assuming most of your “friends” on facebook are from New Mexico, ask people in your status if they know of anyone who does A.R.T. or any other scar tissue technique.

This is your son’s best bet to taking care of this.

Keep me updated Lorie.

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