Avoid Movement Deficiency Even If You Exercise

Posted on in Back Pain, Fitness by Dr. Graham Norton

back pain

You may have started off 2018 with intentions of starting an exercise program or exercising more or differently than you were in 2017.

You may have resolved to run, do pilates, yoga, cycling, CrossFit, bootcamp, weight training, or join a rec sports league.

All of these things are great – do whatever you enjoy most and you’ll be the most successful and consistent with it… that’s for sure!

However, there is a BIG HUGE missing piece of the puzzle for the majority of “regular exercisers. If you exercise 3-5 times per week for 30-60 minutes… that’s awesome. BUT… what are you doing the rest of the time?


Take an inventory of your average day and average week and figure out how much time you spend NOT moving at all. Like actually use a pen and paper (or some app on your phone) to record the amount of time you spend stationary. 

You may be surprised at how many hours a week you spend sitting (in your car, on your couch, at your desk or the dinner table). Understand that you CANNOT counteract the effects of endless hours of NOT MOVING with some intense exercise a few times a week. The body just doesn’t work that way.

Of course any amount of exercise is beneficial but you may still be deficient in MOVEMENT even if you’re a regular “exerciser”.

MOVEMENT also includes things like:

– reaching overhead to grab things out of high kitchen cupboards
– walking the kids to school
– climbing upstairs to go to bed or downstairs to do laundry
– vacuuming and sweeping floors
– scrubbing your back and washing your hair in the shower
– taking the dog for a walk or playing catch
– squatting down to sit on the toilet
– getting down on the floor to play with your grandchildren
– crawling around on the ground to encourage your baby to do the same
– carrying your shopping bags out of the grocery store
– shovelling snow
– building furniture 
– moving furniture around 
– you get the idea… 

Now, if you’re a regular exercises but you are MOVEMENT deficient, you may suffer with at least one of the following problems:

– chronic hip, shoulder, or low back pain that often “goes out” or “flares up”
– tightness everywhere, especially in hamstrings and chest
– chronic headaches
– painful wrists/carpal tunnel syndrome
– low energy levels
– generalized neck and shoulder tension
– foot, knee, hip, or low back pain, especially after standing or walking for prolonged periods of time

If you have made exercising a goal for this year, I encourage you to consider broadening your vision to include more MOVEMENT more often.

Here are some ideas to help you:
– sit on the floor to watch a tv show or read a book (this may be super challenging and uncomfortable at first, but keep moving into different positions)
– crawl around with your kids or grandkids on the ground, forwards and backwards
– if you don’t have too much, ditch the grocery cart at the door and walk your bags back to your car (in the gym this movement is called a farmer’s carry)
– get outside as often as you can (snowshoeing is a great way to access nature in the wintertime)
– move your workstation to standing height
– sit on an exercise ball while working at a desk
– if you have a baby – use a structured carrier rather than pushing a stroller more often
– squat down to put your shoes or boots on rather than use a shoe horn
– park at the back of the parking lot 
– take the stairs instead of the elevator
– rather than sitting in a reception room waiting for an appointment, stand or walk around and observe posters on the walls, chat with the receptionist etc. 
– when sitting at your desk, make sure to stand every 20-30 minutes (this is like hitting a reset button in your brain to turn back ON the nerve signals being sent to the muscles and joints in your core and legs). 
– perform a daily mobility routine like Joint To Joint Motion 

Click the link below to download “Joint To Joint Motion” which is a way to move all the joints in your body, from head to toe, everyday!

Hi! I'm Dr. Graham and I am passionate about delivering the most comprehensive and results driven spine care available. I love working with people who want to make a real and lasting difference in their health. I love travelling locally, outdoor activities like road biking and skate skiing, good coffee, and my family (Dr. Marie, and our two wonderful daughters Zoey & Eloise).