According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are defined as “ injuries or disorders of the muscles, nerves, tendons, joints, cartilage, and disorders of the nerves, tendons, muscles and supporting structures of the upper and lower limbs, neck, and lower back that are caused, precipitated or exacerbated by sudden exertion or prolonged exposure to physical factors such as repetition, force, vibration, or awkward posture. ” What in the world does that mean and how does it apply to you?
In order to understand how MSDs apply to you, it is important to clarify the difference between acute musculoskeletal disorders and chronic musculoskeletal disorders.
1. Acute MSD: An injury caused by a traumatic mechanism that occurs at one specific point in time. An example of a traumatic mechanism of injury would be an auto accident, severe fall, or weight lifting accident. A traumatic mechanism of injury could result in broken bones, muscle strains, ligament tears, or even dislocations. A football player who sustained an ACL tear as a result of a hard tackle is a great example of an Acute MSD. 2% of MSDs that occur in the gym/sports are Acute.
2. Chronic MSD: An injury that occurs over a prolonged period of time as a result of poor body mechanics (how the body moves) and weakness. Chronic MSDs classified as that “annoying” neck , shoulder, back, hip, knee, and foot pain that tends to flare up at the most inopportune moments and makes it difficult to enjoy participating in physical activity. It is important to note that a Chronic MSD can eventually lead to an acute MSD because of your acquired weakness and poor body mechanics. An annoyingly painful shoulder can eventually turn into a shoulder injury that requires surgery if you are not careful. 98% of MSDs that occur in the gym/sports are Chronic. The good news…. it is the sneaky chronic MSDs that can be prevented!
The body is amazing at compensating for poor body mechanics, meaning that the body can withstand sitting with poor posture for a long time or lifting heavy objects the wrong way over and over again without getting hurt. Eventually, as you age, your body gets tired of compensating, and the bad habits that you were able to get away with when you were in your teens and early 20s come back to bite you in the behind. Your poor posture, weaknesses, and incorrect body mechanics will ultimately lead to that annoying chronic neck, shoulder, back, and knee pain. If you’re not careful, it may even lead to an acute injury requiring surgery.
However, the silver lining to this message is this. MDS, acute and chronic, can be prevented with the proper exercise prescription! By properly strengthening your upper body, core, and lower body, you will train your body to be strong and move the right way in all areas of your life. By preventing MSDs, you will continue to be able to participate in all the activities you love so much pain free!