For those of us who sit at a desk all day, there is a name for the pain and tightness you feel after a full days work. It’s called “creep” and it can sneak up on the best of us. But don’t worry; you can get help from this so-called “creep.” Do you ever wonder why it is a struggle to stand up straight after sitting for long periods of time? If so, continue to read!
“Creep” is a neuromusculoskeletal response to static postural positions. While seated, the hip flexor iliopsoas muscle group and rectus femoris are isometrically shortened. This is a biomechanical and postural concern. Here is why you should be concerned. The hip flexor muscle group originates from the lower lumbar spine and inserts at the pelvis allowing it to flex your trunk. When too tight, these muscles can draw the lumbar spine forward creating hyperlordosis (increase spine curvature). This results in excessive compression and strain to the vertebral joints and discs of the spine causing joint degeneration and wear and tear on the cartilaginous disks. For all intents and purposes, your musculature can be frozen into this shortened length resulting in a poor posture. After sitting statically for extended periods of time your hip flexor muscles will tighten if allowed to remain in shortened positions. These static seated positions can also cause myofascial and joint adhesiveness.
One of the other main concerns with creep is that our neuromuscular control system has been affected. Neuromuscular control is the body’s ability to interpret Central Nervous System input to produce efficient and appropriate muscle contractions. Altered posture due to a short agonist (hip flexors) inhibits its functional antagonist (lengthened hamstrings) decreasing the force production. Altered reciprocal inhibition results from chronically tight muscles (hip flexors) that decrease neural drive to its functional antagonist (hamstrings). As a result, an altered flexion posture changes the length-tension relationship. To fight all of this from happening to you, your faulty movement patterns must be addressed with neuromuscular rehabilitation/re-education.
A visit to a good Chiropractor can be your re-education destination. A therapeutic exercise program preceded by a postural and muscular assessment is the ideal solution. It is also important to note that creep requires a daily and hourly fight and commitment. To successfully go toe to toe with this creep it is imperative to “stick and move”, stand up, move around and stretch numerous times per hour. Don’t let creep beat up on you. A great way to stay on track and be proactive is to set an alarm on your phone as a reminder to get up and stretch 2-4 times an hour. Once you are in the comfort of your own home you can go to war with creep by performing extension home exercises provided by your chiropractic doctor or physical therapist in order for you to combat the forward flexing posture that we desk junkies are in all day. In addition to your home exercise program, your chiropractor should provide you with a full helping of myofacial release, manual therapy/mobilization, posture correcting exercises , passive/active stretching, bridges and planks in your regular diet of therapeutic exercises. So start working on your “Creep” today!
Dr. Everett Scott, DC, CKTP
Clinic Director of Sport and Spine Rehab of Fort Washington
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