There is never a good substitute for movement, but keeping active can be challenging. For many people, going out for a run or taking time to perform a full workout can be daunting, especially if this is not a part of their usual routine. Here are some ideas to get you away from your desk, your couch, or anywhere that keeps you in a static posture for too long...
There are a few quick and easy ways to add some movement to your day, starting with something as simple as boiling the kettle or just getting a drink from the fridge or water cooler. It only takes 2-3 minutes, so challenge yourself to see if you can complete these three exercises before going back to sitting down. You can focus on one each day, or work through a different one each time.
1. Challenge your balance.
Standing on one leg is something many of us assume we can do, yet rarely take the time to check. This is an essential skill that can deteriorate without being noticed until everyday activities, such as getting dressed, are impacted. Being able to stand on one leg is important for putting on shoes, trousers and reduced balance can be a risk factor for falls.
Start by seeing if you can stand on one leg with your eyes open for the entire time a kettle is boiling, or time yourself with a stopwatch. Test both legs, making sure you are close to a bench that you can use to support yourself. To increase the difficulty, try balancing with your eyes closed, then progress to balancing on your tiptoes. If you can balance on your tiptoes, with your eyes closed, then you can ask your physio for more suggestions.
2. Heel Raises
Start by keeping your knees slightly bent and lift both heels off the ground at the same time. You can begin with repetitions of 5, have a quick rest then repeat. Challenge yourself to increase the speed of your heel raises and see how many you can fit into your 2 minute workout. As you bend your knees, aim to keep your knees over your second toe. If you feel this is a little too easy, you can progress to single-leg heel raises, which will also improve your balance!
You can start a daily competition with the people in your home or workplace to see who can complete the most repetitions in a set time period.
Squats are a great exercise to keep your large muscles working. You can start with 5 shallow squats, aiming to slowly increase your number and progressively squat to a lower position. As with heel raises, when you start to find squats to be less of a challenge, you can move to single-leg squats.
Don’t hesitate to ask your physio or posture specilaist for tips on how else you can stay active at home or in the workplace.
If I asked a group of people if they suffered from any pain or discomfort, the majority would say ‘yes’. Pain is so common these days and I constantly encounter complaints related to the lower back. Without some solid prevention strategies, the number of people suffering from this problem will continue to grow.
According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, a study examining mortality or poor health as a result of diseases placed low back pain as the sixth most troublesome condition in 1990. As of 2010, low back pain jumped to third place. Most other western nations are no different.
You read that correctly, as of 2010, low back pain ranked 3rd!
I’m going to jump right to it and mention 3 habits you need to change if you want to reduce lower back pain. While this isn’t the only list, nor does it completely cover everything involved it’s a great start to get you on a mission toward a more comfortable, pain free future.
1. You sit too often
Most of us know that sitting isn’t our friend. The problem is we still do it for long periods because life often demands it. You may sit during your meal times, on the ride to work, and while at your job. Like many, you may be sitting for 8-10 hours or more per day. If you’re concerned about your lower back, you need to start standing and moving around more often. If you are sitting in poor alignment for this amount of hours, your risk of incurring a serious problem increases.
2. You exercise with poor form or not at all
Whenever you exercise, pay attention to the way you’re performing your techniques and the position of your body. There’s a good chance the way you’re exercising and the kinds of activities you might be doing in the gym are contributing to an insidious problem. If you don’t exercise, this is your invitation to get cracking because exercise in proper alignment is beneficial for maintaining the integrity of your spine, as well as the rest of your body. It can also improve coordination, and develop proper posture and muscle balance.
3. You don’t pay attention to your body alignment during your daily routine
Sleeping, eating, washing the dishes, walking, and a host of other regular activities are often done in poor alignment. You should start thinking more about what you do on a consistent basis. What position do you sleep in? When you eat do you hunch forward? What is your body doing while you’re working? Pay special attention to anything you do daily, and mind your body alignment.
While this short list is not a call for you to scrutinize every little activity, I implore you to pay closer attention to what you’re doing and start making changes today. Lower back pain is unpleasant and far too common. Small but regular changes can make a big difference!