Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demands, S.A.I.D., simply states that we are a product of our environment. Our bodies are meant to adapt to any environment we place them in. If you step outside when it’s cold, our autonomic nervous system triggers our muscles to fire rapidly to produce heat (shivering). If it’s hot, we sweat. On a similar token, our bodies are calibrated for self-preservation. If you’re sedentary for 8, 10, 12hrs a day, our metabolism slows down to meet our low energy demands. If not, our bodies would require tremendous amounts of energy (food) simply to preserve ourselves.
For many of us, our environment consists of an office, a chair, and desk, and a computer. We plug away for hours on end without the thought of standing, stretching, moving, drinking water… heck, sometimes I’m not even sure I blinked in the last three hours. Being seated and sedentary for long periods, day in day out, encourages our body to mold to these positions. Through a process called adaptive shortening, muscles like our Iliopsoas (hip-flexors/hips), Pec Minor (chest), and Sub-Occipital Muscles (base of the head), among others, shorten to make it easy to hold these postures for long periods of time. Overtime, the muscle fibers in these areas shorten, while our body lays additional connective tissue to inhibit these muscles from being overactive. Adaptive shortening can lead to chronic ailments like tension headaches, migraines, tension in your heads, neck and shoulders, and low back pain.
All is not lost! Remember, though we are a product of our environment, our environment is not concrete. While you may not have time to commit an hour each day to the gym, we all have time for what we make time for. Taking just 5-10 minutes a day to stretch, move about the office, and facilitate a bit of variability within our environment can go a long way in supporting your health and fitness goals.