It has been and continues to be, uncertain times with the continued concerns arising with the coronavirus. Lockdown has provided many opportunities and challenges for many of us to re-discover what it means to be ‘at home’. For some this has been a more active time, for others more sedentary and for everyone, day to day routines have been affected. Therefore, our most important question to you right now is “How is your body feeling?”
Self-care during this period has been paramount. We want to make sure you are ok! So sit back and relax and let us take you on a scan of the body, focusing on some potentially problematic areas, and give you some advice to avoid any long-term issues. , Grab a cuppa and let’s get started!
Head and neck
First stop is the very top! The head and neck play an important role in your overall posture and well-being. For those you have had to start working from home, not having your usual desk set up can place a great deal of stress on the neck region. So let’s check-in! Close your eyes for 30 seconds and bring awareness to your neck. Slowly move it around. How does it feel? Is it tight? Is it restricted? Does your head feel heavier than usual? It could be that your new working’ set up’ is causing some unusual strain. Are you now working on a laptop instead of a desktop computer? Are you sitting on the sofa instead of an adjustable chair? Are you using your Smartphone more? Think about the effect of having your head looking down at a laptop for 8 hours a day instead of a monitor, or the ‘tech neck’ when you are looking down at your smartphone all day. This not only plays havoc on your neck but all the associated muscles will be feeling the strain too. This can cause headaches, tight shoulders, eye strain, and reduced quality of sleep. Poor neck, poor you!
Suggestions: Try to recreate your office space as close as possible to the real thing. If you don’t have a desk at home, a dining table may be more suitable than sitting on a sofa or armchair. You also need to ensure you are moving your neck and shoulders more regularly to avoid them being in a strained position for too long. Just gentle neck and shoulder rolls will ensure the joints are kept moving. Take a break every 30 minutes and move into a different position.
Our spine sits at the core of the body, and we need good function throughout to ensure our limbs can also function with minimal effort and maximum efficiency. Spinal alignment also affects your organs, nervous system and overall health. The spine is not only the core of your body but the core of your wellbeing! That’s why moving the body in various ways is important. Have been moving more or moving less? Are you sitting more or more active? Are you used to an active job and now you find yourself homeschooling the children, or trying to break the day up with a bit of reading, gaming, TV or doing a crossword? Life for some is suddenly much more sedentary, so it’s important to avoid getting stiff. Getting stiff and tightness in the body by sitting with poor spinal posture for extended periods can wreak havoc on our bodies. Our spines curve ‘Out in the mid-back and ‘In’ in the lower back. If we don’t look after those curves carefully by protecting our posture from excessive strains, then we leave ourselves open to sore backs and poor functioning limbs as a result.
Suggestions: We recommend avoiding long periods of sitting or lying down. Never sit for more than one hour at a time. Try some standing spinal twists or bends (gently, of course). Even standing and doing five minutes of standing stretching will have a huge impact. Think of breaks that will support your body. Go for a walk around the garden, or do a session of yoga, Pilates, but remember that just simple stretching through the day to mobilise your spine will have lasting and ongoing benefits. If you have kids, get them to do it with you. They will enjoy a break from their school work, no doubt and will set a great example of the importance of self-care.
There is a song that says the “hips don’t lie” and no truer words have been said! When we have sore hips they are telling us a message. And that message is “move me!” Anyone who works in a seated position knows what effect this can have on the hips. Having your hips in a ‘flexed’ or in a seated position for long periods of time contracts the muscle and can leave your hip flexor muscles tight and short. This decreases your ability to open the body out into a fully straight position, reducing the flow of the cerebrospinal fluid through the spine body, leaving the back chain of muscles in a lengthened state, which can eventually result in the weakening of the chain.
Suggestions: We recommend lots of movements that counteract the flexion and allow the muscle to stretch the other way. Counteract the time spent seated working or extended time watching TV and to never sit for more than one hour at a time. Start with some standing-based exercise. Even a slight standing, backbend will open up the hips straight away. Jumps, skipping, walking, running or bridging is a nice way to open those hips and get the blood flowing.
Our mental health and physical health are all interconnected. Poor posture can affect the physiology of the body. Lack of physical activity, tightness in muscles, poor postural alignment can affect the central nervous system. As a result, the hormones used to regulate our mental health is impacted and we can begin to feel more anxious or depressed. If your mood has been affected during this time, think about what changes the body has gone through as shown in the above examples. Perhaps consider what the body needs to have you back to your happier livelier self!
Suggestion: We recommend keeping your posture always top of mind when walking and sitting. Slouching and allow your shoulders to roll forward create a downward movement. Have you ever noticed with depressed people how the shoulders seem hunched over? That’s both the body and mind in that state. By ensuring you keep yourself upright will help keep your mood light!
Our underlying message through all of this is to check in with yourself and ask the important question, How am I feeling? How is my body feeling? Our bodies are designed to move and this means activity, awareness and postural alignment are all required to keep us in optimum health. Gentle, soft or dynamic movements all work; the underlying message here is our bodies like to move, move, move!
Please look after yourselves. Self-care is complete care! If any of these points seem relevant to you please get in touch today 8774 9600, we are only a phone call away. Self–care is the only way to ensure we can continue to contribute and be dependable for ourselves and for our loved ones during these uncertain times.
References: Office of Industrial Relations. 2012. Ergonomic guide to computer based workstations. [Online]. Available from: https://www.worksafe.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0006/83067/guide-ergo-comp-workstations.pdf. [Accessed 04 May 2020]