The “Flexion Affliction”

The “Flexion affliction” affects 90% of the clients I see in my massage clinic in some shape or form. I coined this phrase because I feel it describes very well the fact that too much flexion (forward bending) in our lives causes various afflictions. These can manifest in something relatively benign like general stiffness, more severely loss of range of motion, or at it’s worst the big “P” with additional symptoms affecting the limbs.

The way our anatomy is structured, we have eyes at the front and arms attached to the side of the torso. Because of this, most activities happen in front of our body. It follows that we usually lean or bend toward the area of activity, even if we don’t have to lift or manipulate things as such. A very common scenario of this is of course sitting at the computer screen.  As I am writing this article, I have to remind myself to remain seated on my sit bones, and to refrain from slouching into a “banana  back”, with its close cousins, “rounded shoulders”, “caved in chest”, “forward head posture” and “sticking out chin”. These cousins are all part of the “flexion” family. Another muscle group that is shortened into flexion by too much sitting, are the muscles at the front of the hips (the hip flexors).

This tendency to lean forward is largely determined by our anatomy and wouldn’t be so bad, if we mixed it up liberally with other postures and movements throughout the day. Unfortunately, this doesn’t happen for most of us. Many of us sit behind computers, on car seats, on the couch at home for 8-10 hours a day and think we do ourselves a favour by going for a bike ride on the weekend (more flexion). Cycling is of course fantastic low impact cardiovascular exercise, but locks us into the flexion pattern once more.

In essence, we repeat the same pattern day in day out for many hours and then wonder why we become inflexible, tired, bent and riddled with pain.

Sometimes it is not easy to find the time to exercise formally. However, we can all do simple thing repeatedly during the day:

  • stand up straight and squeeze your muscles tight to your bones for a few seconds repeatedly, to wake up all the lazy muscles
  • reach your arms out to the side and squeeze your shoulder blades together repeatedly. This wakes up the muscles in your back that keep you straighter.
  • Take some deep breaths, lengthening the crown of your head towards the ceiling  (aid decompression of the spine)
  • stretch backwards and sideways repeatedly while standing tall and holding your core tight
  • twist from side to side 
  • stretch your hips and thighs regularly

Not sure how? Visit our stretches page.