In the pursuit of a healthy and active lifestyle, understanding how our bodies respond to activity and inactivity is crucial. Two essential concepts that play a significant role in this understanding are deconditioning and accommodation.
Both these processes have a direct impact on our muscles and joints, influencing their strength, flexibility, and overall functionality. In this blog post, we will delve into the mechanics of deconditioning and accommodation and explore how the 'use it or lose it' principle applies to maintaining optimal musculoskeletal health.
Deconditioning: The Effects of Inactivity on Muscles and Joints
Deconditioning refers to the gradual loss of strength and function in muscles and joints due to inactivity or underuse. When muscles are not regularly engaged in activities that challenge them, they begin to weaken over time. Similarly, joints that are not subjected to adequate movement may experience a decline in their range of motion and flexibility.
One of the most common scenarios of deconditioning occurs when individuals lead sedentary lifestyles. Sitting for extended periods, whether at work or during leisure, can lead to weakened muscles in the lower back, hips, and glutes. As a result, individuals may experience discomfort, pain, and reduced functional capacity.
Moreover, when someone sustains an injury or undergoes prolonged bed rest, the muscles supporting the affected area can weaken significantly. For example, if a person injures their leg and avoids using it during the healing process, the muscles around the injured leg can become deconditioned, leading to a loss of strength and coordination.
Accommodation: Adapting to Routine Stressors
Accommodation, on the other hand, refers to the body's ability to adapt to routine stressors and stimuli. When we perform specific exercises or activities regularly, our muscles and joints become accustomed to those particular movements. Over time, the body's response to these movements becomes more efficient, requiring less energy and effort to perform them.
While accommodation can be beneficial for certain tasks or activities, it can also lead to potential challenges. When we repeatedly engage in the same exercises or movements without variation, our bodies may become too accustomed to them. As a consequence, the muscles and joints may lose the ability to perform other movements or activities that differ from the routine.
The 'Use It or Lose It' Principle:
The 'use it or lose it' principle encapsulates the essence of both deconditioning and accommodation. It emphasises that when we consistently use certain muscles and joints, they become stronger and more capable. Conversely, when we neglect or underuse specific muscle groups and joint movements, they gradually weaken and lose their functional capacity.
Applying this principle, it becomes evident that regular physical activity and exercise are vital for maintaining strong and healthy muscles and joints. Engaging in a varied workout routine that challenges different muscle groups and movements can prevent accommodation and counteract the effects of deconditioning.
Deconditioning and accommodation are essential concepts that highlight the dynamic nature of our bodies' responses to activity and inactivity. Maintaining healthy muscles and joints requires a proactive approach, where we strive to challenge and strengthen different muscle groups regularly. By embracing the 'use it or lose it' principle, we can promote optimal musculoskeletal health, improve functional capacity, and lead a more active and fulfilling life. Remember, an active lifestyle is the key to keeping your muscles and joints strong, flexible, and ready for whatever challenges come your way. If you live in Bristol and are wondering how you can best 'use it' to avoid 'losing it' then get in touch with us. We'll take you through the latest evidence based approaches to this common problem.