4 Lessons Non-Smokers Can Learns
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 is currently 20%. In the 10 years of Swindon Sports Therapy I estimate that the proportion of smokers we seen through our doors is certainly less than 10% probably closer to 5%.
It would be easy to dismiss this statistic as due to less sporting activity of smokers and therefore less likelihood of injury. However, if you consider that about 50% of all our clients don’t actively participate in sport and then further consider that about 75% of all 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. Continue reading to find out what.
It is generally accepted in the Physio world that having a relaxed attitude towards life means you are less at risk from overuse conditions. (There is come evidence to suggest this is the case with acute injuries also but lets keep things simple). 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. Many of my breakthroughs with clients 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).
Just a few ideas with very little scientific back up but hopefully thoughts we can all benefit from. I’d be really interested to hear your thoughts. I hope these thoughts give you some ideas for ways to improve your day.
Right, blogging done I’m off for a quick break and some fresh air before the day job starts!