There are so many benefits to moving every single part of our bodies that it’s hard to keep track of them all. Here’s another to add to the list – circulation. As we know, moving does get the heart pumping. The bigger and faster the movement, the faster the heart beats. That is the heart’s job. It’s a pump and its function is to get nutrient and oxygen rich blood everywhere in your body. The thing you may not be aware of is that it has help. It’s true. That assistance comes from the skeletal muscles of your body.
We tend to think that the role of skeletal muscles is to move us. That is their primary function. After receiving a signal from your brain, such as “hey, I need to lift my left knee”, the muscles will change from long to short or short to long to make that happen. It’s that muscle contraction that results in a pull or a release on the bones of the body. That is the movement that we see. The movement that we can’t see is a microscopic flow of fluids within the tissues. That is circulation. The more frequent the movement, the healthier the tissues. The longer a tissue (and the cells within the tissue) goes with little or no circulation, the harder it will be for the tissue to grow or regenerate and perform well.
Let’s apply this information to sitting. When we sit for hours at a time we are limiting the bone and muscle configuration in the lower body. Any movement that there might be is limited. The muscles are not fully contracting or relaxing and therefore there is limited flow throughout the tissues. Over time, the range of motion is reduced (try touching your toes) and with that so is the circulation. A lack of adequate blood flow to any part of your body can have consequences. On a minor level it leaves us feeling exhausted even though we have done nothing. On a serious level poor circulation can lead to bumps and bruises not healing and turning into ulcers. Unmanaged ulcers can result in tissue death and inflections. In scary scenarios this can lead to amputations.
When it comes to our bodies we really need to think about the long game. If there are movements that you can’t do now start working at them. Touch your toes. Lunge forward and back. Do some Burpees. Kick off your shoes and get your toes moving (wiggle ‘em, spread ‘em, lift ‘em). That’s another area where restricted movement (being in shoes all day) leads to poor circulation. Start slowly, be patient and be consistent.
Our bodies want to be healthy and we want to be pain free. We have to remember that we are on the same team. Listen to those niggly messages that you get. You know the ones. That twitch in the lower back, the tightness in the knee or numbness in a toe. Chances are movement will help work that out by feeding the tissues that are starving.
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