Monday, September 17, 2007

Danger! Knowledge workers pay heed!

My NU students from last year will remember that I was in bad health then -- it was pretty obvious. At one point I could not sit, stand, or lie down without pain, which made it difficult to sleep, work or enjoy myself. You may imagine how debilitating that was.

My bad health was a product of three separate problems, which I won't detail. I have been treated for all, with some success, to the point that one of my colleagues today said I was in a "suspiciously" good humor. I like to think I'm normally like that, but who knows...

The reason for this blog post is to bring to the attention of students and colleagues -- all of whom are or hope to be "knowledge workers," and do or may sit for hours at a time -- to the terrible fate that awaits them if they don't take simple measures now. It's called "bad back." It should really be called "weak core muscles resulting from restricted activity."

On top of more exotic maladies I had just got too immobile, leaving my older and less flexible spine insufficiently supported by my too-weak torso and hip muscles. It crept up on me; I'm hardly the most sedentary person you know.

Since about January I've been doing yoga, following a TV program on "Channel One -- Body Mind and Spirit" (home also of programs on "The Other Side" and the newer but now infamous "Bollywood Workout") which spares me driving to an in-person class. The program is called Living Yoga and has done me a world of good; especially after I bought the two DVDs sold by the same teacher.

More recently I have been recommended the anti-pain program of Pete Egoscue. His on-line presence puts me off a bit, but his book Pain-free at your PC (in the NU library) is very sensible. His approach is based on the idea that modern conveniences allow people to adopt a more and more restrictive range of movement, with the result that muscle groups both get weak and fall out of balance. If the balance is corrected through simple exercise, and balance is maintained, the pain goes away without drugs, surgery, or expensive new furniture.

The Egoscue Method is entirely consistent with the yogic view of the body, and some of his exercises are very familiar, but he has a few non-yoga exercises that have done me a lot of good in a short time.

So there. I've done my duty. Please think about this issue before you have to think about it!

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting post - I have had these troubles all along too, and am also far from being sedentary. Yoga is the way to go for core strength. The best book I know of on it, is "Light on Yoga" by B. K. S. Iyengar.

Kenneth Heimbuch
Nipissing University

9:41 AM  
Blogger Ancarett said...

I'm glad to know that you're feeling better and I agree that our way of life tends to lead us slowly down the road to serious problems. Right now I'm finding it hard to carve out the time I used to easily set aside for proper workouts at the gym. I think I'm going to have to be creative and come up with some new workouts before it gets to be a problem!

9:04 PM  

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