Episode 53: How To Prevent The Over-Use Injury Cycle
The Cumulative Injury Cycle represents the process in which over-use injuries and pain may occur. This cycle is not limited to sitting or computer workstations, but anything you do repetitively. There is both the potential of the Chronic Cycle and the Inflammatory Cycle that we may suffer from when sitting for prolonged periods of time. Since sitting is one of the most common overuse activities that we face, this cumulative injury cycle occurs all too often in the desk worker.
The chronic cycle begins with overwork, such as the long duration of sitting. This prolonged sitting may lead to a deconditioned and/or sedentary lifestyle that will develop Weak & Tense Muscles/Soft Tissue. These weak and/or tight muscles lead to excessive Friction, Pressure and Tension to the local muscles, ligaments, tendons, and fascia. In turn, this results in Decreased Circulation and Swelling and Hypoxia (lack of oxygen) to the area. Due to this hypoxic state (lack of oxygen to an area), the formation of adhesions and/or scar tissue occurs to the area, which decreases the function of the local structures. This becomes a vicious cycle that over time results in weaker and more tensed muscles and soft tissue and the cycle keeps on churning until the body sends off the alarm system that something is wrong. That alarm system comes in the form of a pain!
An example of this in action would be the prolonged sitting with poor posture leading to tightness in your upper trapezius. This is the muscle that attaches from the base of your skull to your shoulders. This leads to chronic tension in that muscle group and over time, leads to a lack of blood flow to that area and therefore lack of oxygen to the localized muscle fibers. This develops the scar tissue or “trigger point” in that muscle and you feel the “knot” in your neck that everyone complains of constantly. This type of cycle can happen in many areas of your body and is the essence of how over-use strain and pain/injury occurs.