It’s the New Year and time to make a fresh start. Here are some tips for keeping pain free in 2017.
- Stretch/Mobilise Daily
Most people will either only stretch when they are experiencing pain or not stretch at all. Don’t just wait for a painful experience to happen before you do your stretches/mobilisation exercises. If you did some simple stretches or mobilisations involving the neck, back, shoulder, hips and ankles this would help to maintain good function in your joints and muscles. One of the main causes of musculoskeletal pain is loss of function (or dysfunction) of joints and muscles, therefore logic would tell you that if you kept them functioning well then you could potentially avoid a lot of painful experiences. Keeping everything functioning well will help to counteract the effects of sitting at the office all day, or carrying heavy concrete blocks etc, whatever it is that you do for a living that puts strain on your body. You can speak to Sam, Kate or Amanda for up to date stretches and mobilisation exercises which you can do to avoid pain.
- Take up Yoga/Pilates
If you don’t feel motivated to stretch or mobilise by yourself, then do it with others. Doing a Yoga or Pilates class 2-3 x per week will help to keep your joints and muscles happy and functioning well. Being with others and having an instructor guiding you on what you should be doing will motivate you to do your exercises. You never know, you may even meet some new friends while you are there. There will more than likely be Yoga or Pilates classes on at the gym you attend, or you will be able to find local independent classes that you can either drop in or pay for a block of sessions. Speak to Sam if you would like to know any that are local to the Heatons.
- Keep Active
Try and do about 6 hours of walking per week, or 3 hours of jogging. It is great for your health in a number of ways. Not only will this help to counteract the effects of having a sedentary work/home life, it is also good for your cardiovascular system, weight loss and prevention of chronic diseases like Diabetes Type 2. Research indicates the maximum benefits for increased longevity occur after you expend more than 2,000 calories per week on exercise. Walking uses slightly more than 300 calories per hour so if you walk for 6 hours per week you will help reduce the risk of dying before your time. (Sears 1995)
- Do Not Sit for Long Periods
This applies to both work and home. Try not to sit for longer than 20 minutes. This does not mean that you need to take a 15 minute break from work every 20 minutes, your boss would not be best pleased if that was the case. All it means is, just stand up every 20 minutes, have a shake off, adjust your position and wake your joints and muscles up. Generally people can maintain good sitting posture for about 5 minutes before they start to slouch. Your joints and muscles will start to let you know about it after about 20 minutes so getting up every 20 minutes should help to prevent any aches and pains from sitting for long periods at work and home. Sitting for long periods can lead to things like reduced range of movement in your ankles, tight calves, tight/short hamstrings and hip flexors, increased thoracic (upper back) curvature, forward head posture and rounded shoulders. These issues can lead to problems like back or neck pain, shoulder pain, hip pain, recurrent muscle strains. We need to do things to counteract the effects of sitting, one of which is getting up every 20 minutes.
If you are experiencing any type of musculoskeletal pain, get an ice pack straight on to help reduce painful inflammation. Wrap it in a tea-towel and place over the area that is sore for 20 minutes. Take it off for 40 minutes and then replace for 20 minutes and so on.
- Don’t Ignore Warning Signs
If you are experiencing any aches or pains, please don’t ignore them. Listen to your body, particularly if you have had an episode of back or neck pain (or any other pain) in the past. They may not amount to anything, and be nothing more than a nuisance, but they could also be the warning signs of something worse to come. It’s best to get these aches and pains checked out by a qualified practitioner (Chiropractor, Osteopath, Sports Therapist or Physiotherapist). They will be able to assess you and tell you whether they think you need treatment, or whether they think it will pass by of its own accord.
Written by Sam Davies (MChiro DC)