Not moving.

Not moving: the fundamental but neglected motor function.

Have you ever had a client tell you that prolonged standing is their biggest challenge ? "My feet kill me when I have to just stand in a booth at a trade show !" , or "My low back kills me when I stand for 2 hours at a cocktail party". In many of these cases, if they start to move, they feel better. I have plenty of trade show folks complaint of foot pain from the sustained standing. The muscles are under a constant sustained load, there is little to no joint movement, the ligamentous support systems undergo creep, and other things. So, i have them walk back and forth the 5-6 steps within the confines of their trade show booth. Movement is medicine. Sustaining a postural position and thus a fixed joint position over time, even with modest load, is fatiguing and eventually leads to multi-tissue failure. Sustained loading, even when suboptimal, is a problem. The nervous system becomes cranky too as discussed in the abstract below.

Here is an interesting article we are trying to get our hands on (please share if you have access to it). It is not a strong correlation to the discussion above, but there is some conceptual spill over we hope to dive deeper into, perhaps on an upcoming podcast.


"The function of the motor system in preventing rather than initiating movement is often overlooked. Not only are its highest levels predominantly, and tonicaly, inhibitory, but in general behavior it is often intermittent, characterized by relatively short periods of activity separated by longer periods of stillness: for most of the time we are not moving, but stationary. Furthermore, these periods of immobility are not a matter of inhibition and relaxation, but require us to expend almost as much energy as when we move, and they make just as many demands on the central nervous system in controlling their performance. The mechanisms that stop movement and maintain immobility have been a greatly neglected area of the study of the brain. This paper introduces the topics to be examined in this special issue of Philosophical Transactions, discussing the various types of stopping and stillness, the problems that they impose on the motor system, the kinds of neural mechanism that underlie them and how they can go wrong.This article is part of the themed issue 'Movement suppression:brain mechanisms for stopping and stillness'."

Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2017 Apr 19;372(1718). pii: 20160190. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2016.0190.

Not moving: the fundamental but neglected motor function.
Noorani I1, Carpenter RH2.