In the early part of my career I sometimes wondered why I saw very few smokers through my door. The national average in the adult population for smoking at this time was around 20%. Over a period of 10 years setting up Swindon Sports Therapy I estimated that the proportion of smokers we saw was certainly less than 10% probably closer to 5%.
It would be easy to dismiss this statistic as being linked to the the fact that smokers tend to engage in less sporting activities then non smokers and therefore have less likelihood of injury. However, considering that about 50% of all our clients don’t actively participate in sport and then further consider that about 75% of all the injuries we see don’t have a specific start i.e. they are conditions that have built up over time and have no specific start point, sporting or otherwise. The lack of smokers being treated doesn’t add up.
This anomaly in some fairly rough statistics interested my grey matter and got me considering if there was anything else that could be contributing to lack of smoking clients. So I had a nice sit down with a cup of tea and a slice of cake (fruit cake for those interested!) and came up with the following conclusion:
Smokers are more laid back!
Yup, you heard it here first. Allow me to explain my thinking and then we’ll get to some tips to make us non-smokers as ‘laid back’ as our smoking friends. Read on to find out how.
It is generally accepted in the Physio world that having a relaxed attitude towards life means you are less at risk from overuse conditions. (Additionally there is some evidence to suggest that this is the case with acute injuries). Without going into great detail if you are a more tense person your muscles start from a more tense position and you are more likely to overuse muscles. See previous posts on how to avoid knee and back conditions.
But why would smokers be less tense? Certainly if you’ve seen a smoker who has gone without for a few hours desperately reaching for the lighter they look far from it! However, if you look at a few aspects of smoking as a habit, they are genuinely healthy habits to have, and these are the lessons us non-smokers can learn:
1. Taking Regular Breaks
Smokers have to stop what they’re doing and have a break of about 5 minutes to have a smoke. It’s well documented that we can only concentrate fully for 20-30 minutes at a time. Taking a 5 minute break every half an hour enables us to switch off, calm the brain down and re-focus. Meaning we’re more relaxed when we get back to it and more efficient at our work, taking pressure off ourselves.
2. Taking a Deep Breath
The act of smoking involves a series of deep breaths. This in itself is a relaxing experience. Try it now. Stop what you doing for 1 minute take a series of deep breath in through your nose and out through you mouth and see how you feel. It should feel pretty good. Your brain slows down, you’re more calm in your thinking and your muscles in your body are more relaxed.
3. Better Posture
As we discussed in a previous post posture is the key to avoiding injury. With the best will in the world it very hard to maintain excellent posture at your desk for hours on end. Regular breaks mean you can re-set your posture, have a breather and go again with some great posture.
4. Fresh Air
A more recent ‘benefit’ of smoking, since the indoor smoking ban, is some nice fresh air. It seems slightly ironic whilst inhaling toxic smoke but the fact of the matter is that us humans have spent most of our history being outdoors. We generally feel more comfortable and at ease in such surroundings. I’ll leave the debate about air-conditioning for another day!
So what should non-smokers do to make them as laid back as smokers?!
I’m not for one second suggesting everyone immediately get down the corner shop and invest in a pack of 20!
What I would suggest is implementing those regular breaks into your working day for the reasons above. Try and get out of the office every hour or two, even if it’s just to walk around the block. You can still think about work and that time away from your desk will give you greater clarity in your thinking and maybe help you get past something you were struggling with. The ideas that trigger breakthroughs with clients often come when I’m wandering around out of the clinic.
Maybe just use a small cup of water so you have a refill it regularly to give you an excuse to get up and down from your desk. Maybe develop a herbal tea habit to give you a healthy reason to have a break! (Please avoid the teas and coffees containing caffeine – I can feel another blog/rant coming on for this one – I have seen many cases where dropping caffeine intake has improved people’s symptoms).
Very little scientific to support these thoughts, but I hope these thoughts give you some ideas for ways to improve your day and be of benefit. I’d be really interested to hear your thoughts. Get in touch by calling us on 01273921831 or drop us an email using Info@BrightonSportsTherapy.co.uk
Right, blogging done I’m off for a quick break and some fresh air before the day job starts!