Couch Potato vs. Hot Potato - Which one are you? | Nose Creek Physiotherapy
Blair Schachterle Health Tips

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Couch Potato vs. Hot Potato – Which one are you?

Do you tackle every task that comes your way in a timely fashion, or do you put things on the backburner and wait until the last minute? Are you living life to the fullest or letting it pass you by? These are important questions, and you won’t be able to get the most out of life until you know the answers. Fortunately, you know yourself better than anyone else and can get a very good idea by performing a simple check of your own body and how it performs for you each day. Once and for all, find out if you’re a “couch potato” who is coasting through life, a “hot potato” who embraces everything life has to offer, or like most of us, somewhere in between.    
Ask yourself:

  • Do I wake up ready and anxious to start the day or do I really want to hit the snooze button?
  • Does it take awhile to shake out the kinks when I first get out of bed?
  • Do I experience neck and shoulder stiffness half way through my day?
  • Do I really feel a nap would do nicely by late afternoon, rather than going to the gym?
  • Do I decline some invitations because I just don’t have the energy?

So now that you’ve taken inventory of your body and its daily performance, do you like the results? Did you think you were more of a go getter than you are? Don’t be alarmed. Changes are always possible, regardless of age or where you fit on the couch potato scale. You can get out and embrace life more, and definitely move the couch potato dial.  Remember, you decide where you want to be when it comes to your activity level. You’re a work in progress, you just need to get to work. So let’s go.

The term “couch potato” was first mentioned by a friend of underground comic artist Robert Armstrong in the 1970s, where he featured a group of couch potatoes in a series of comics to create a satirical organization that purported to watch television as a form of meditation. Before the age of cellphones and computers, the average working person was on their feet all day cooking, cleaning or minding the farm and providing for the family. Of course this may have caused other aches and pains but nowhere near the effects of living a sedentary lifestyle (sitting disease).

Here are some risk factors to consider: anxiety, cardiovascular disease, migraines, colon cancer, depression, diabetes, high blood pressure and lipid disorders to name a few. Studies have proven that inactivity is responsible for more annual deaths than smoking. Now what does this have to do with the pectoralis muscles you ask? Being hunched over a desk for 8-12 hours a day can shorten the pecs, pulling everything forward. This leads to hyperkyphosis in the thoracic spine, meaning an over curvature in your spine, leaving your neck to protrude forward and your back muscles to become weak. Not only are your nice fan shaped pecs getting tighter, but they are also putting extra strain on the medial and lateral nerve roots that innervate, which may develop into numbness or tingling down your arms. Last time I checked you need the feeling in your hands to type and use the mouse right? Taking bathroom breaks can help but without purposeful stretching, followed by some sort of work out for your muscles, you will continue to feel the same. If this is not possible, a great massage will and can make a huge difference in how you feel.

As a Massage Therapist, I’m constantly hunched forward. I started getting my pecs massaged and increased my stretching. I was amazed at how my chronic shoulder and neck stiffness went away. Posture in the office is everything and nobody likes a hunchback so let’s unleash the superman inside of you! A great Therapeutic Massage will definitely help chronic stiffness and pain plus improve your range of motion.  

We’ve looked at the best way to improve your range of motion and ease the pain and stiffness many of you may be experiencing. For many of us how to fix the problem is enough. However, for those of you who need to know both what and why as well as the how, please continue reading and I will explain the discomfort you are feeling.

What are pecs (aka pectoralis) muscles?

First of all there are two pectoralis muscles, pec minor and pec major. The pectoralis major is a thick, fan-shaped muscle, situated at the chest (anterior) of the human body. It makes up the bulk of the chest muscles in the male and lies under the breast in the female. The pectoralis minor, underneath the pectoralis major, is a thin, triangular muscle. In sports as well as bodybuilding, the pectoral muscles may colloquially be referred to as “pecs”, “pectoral muscle” or “chest muscle.”

What do they do?

The pectoralis major receives dual motor innervation by the medial pectoral nerve and the lateral pectoral nerve, also known as the lateral anterior thoracic nerve. One route of innervation of the pectoralis major originates in the C7, C8 and T1 nerve roots which merge out to form the lower trunk of the brachial plexus. The second source of innervation of the pectoralis major originates from the C5 and C6 nerve roots which merge to form the upper trunk, splits off into the anterior division of the upper trunk which joins with the middle trunk to form the lateral cord.

The pectoralis major has four functions in which it contributes to the movement of the shoulder joint. The first action is flexion of the humerus as used in lifting a child for example. Secondly it adducts the arm as in a flapping motion. Thirdly it rotates the shoulder medially as in an arm-wrestling match. Last but not least the pec muscle is also responsible for holding the arm attached to your body while holding a beer stein out in front of you.

If you have back pain related to poor posture and it is not getting better, you need to give us a call and book a massage.

Blair Schachterle
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