When I watch my kids move all I can think of is Gumby; you might remember that green, flexible fellow from years ago. If you don’t know Gumby don’t worry it probably means you do not need to read this blog post because you don’t have stiff and achy joints. My kids are bendy and move with such grace and ease. I remember when I moved like that and the freedom I felt within my body. Now after years of contact sports and intense training followed by years of decreasing activity and finally minimal exercise because of work and raising kids even your physical therapist gets achy joints.
I have had a lot of people ask me what I do for my stiff and achy joints. I thought I better write a blog about this topic because it comes up a lot in conversation. So be ready for some simple tips, some you may know and others you have not thought about.
Autumn is such a beautiful time of the year to lace up the boots and head out into the hills. There is nothing better than breathing in the fresh air, feeling the cool air blowing against your face, and taking in the scenery of all the yellow, orange, and red of the falling leaves. An autumn hike is surreal and magical unless you end up with a sprained ankle or a bummed knee.
There is nothing more aggravating than having to hobble slowly down a mountain trail after spraining an ankle or straining your knee. The autumn magic quickly fades away and your left with pain and the thoughts of an ice pack, anti-inflammatories, and staying at home.
The chances are that injury did not have to happen.
We know how important it is to get out there and enjoy a nice trek on your day off. The last thing we would want is for that hike to be put to a halt because you got hurt doing the thing you love. That’s why we wanted to give you some tips, ideas, and pointers on how to stay safe and prevent injuries when heading out for an autumn hike.
In our last ‘The Office’ post we gave some tips on how to set up your workstation. We hope these tips were helpful and your workstation is now a comfortable space, letting you get your work done without the frustration of pain getting in the way of your next project.
Now that your workstation is set up for success, we wanted to give you some additional tips that will help you stop any nagging aches and pains from returning.
Have you ever watched someone work on their computer, their eyes glued to the monitor, their face practically touching the screen and then wondered how in the world can their neck hold that head up in that position for hours? How about your coworker next to you that looks like a deflated balloon sitting in their chair through the entire workday? These can’t be comfortable or efficient postures for the body to maintain all day long. Over time, these positions could lead to some stiff and achy joints, tense muscles, and even pain.
At Body Evolution we believe the best posture is the next posture. In other words, changing positions throughout the work day will decrease the stress and strain on those body parts that work overtime.
Changing posture through the day reduces the buildup of stress in our body. This is a simple thing to do during the day, but can be difficult when your job requires you to be focused on the current task causing you to be in front of the computer screen for extended periods of time.
The world has changed dramatically over the years and our lives have followed that pattern. Humans, not too long ago, spent most of their time outdoors with most of their day spent moving. But in recent times we have become more sedentary and our jobs have us sitting down for most of the day. Years ago one may have injured their knee on the job doing physical labor, but now most of us complain of neck and back pain from sitting at our desk for too long. Our bodies get stiff, we are more immobile, and feel older than we should. Humans were not designed to sit all day long staring at a computer screen. But that’s just part of the territory that comes with our chosen career path.
At Body Evolution our clients often ask us if there is anything they can do at their job to reduce their aches and pains. The answer is YES!!
This is such a common question we thought we would do a ‘The Office’ series including ergonomic setup, tips to reduce stress and strains, and a few desk jockey exercises to help you get rid of your nagging aches and pains.
Give the tips and exercises a try. If you are still having aches and pains that just don’t seem to go away, then it might be time to seek out a professional. At Body Evolution we help people like you every day. Come in for a Free Discovery session to find out how we can help you get through the workday pain-free.
The last blog was focused on dynamic stretching. This blog we will discuss what most people consider normal stretching (static). This is the type of stretching you will typically find on YouTube videos or most healthcare providers will prescribe to you.
These stretches are focused on effecting the muscles. These stretches are held for a shorter duration than myofascial stretching and longer than most dynamic stretches. Each stretch is held for about 30 seconds and often repeated several times for the same body part. While many believe they are lengthening the muscle what is happening is the muscle simply relaxes. This type of stretching has a short effect on the nervous system causing a relaxation response. Tense muscles are those that do not seem to relax. When you stretch not only do relax the muscles, but also allow improved blood flow and oxygenation. This benefit is found in all types of stretching.
Previously, in the last blog we focused on what we call myofascial stretching. To complete this blog series we will discuss what’s called dynamic stretching. This is a type of stretching you can easily find on YouTube and is often used for warm-ups prior to a workout.
These stretches are called dynamic because they involve movement. With dynamic stretching we are taking a muscle and putting length into it through movement and then shortening the muscle when moving back into the starting position. This type of stretching allows the muscle to move through its full range of motion. When stretching like this you are even able to strengthen the muscle because it is put under load. Dynamic stretching has been shown through research to be a preferred stretching method prior to a workout versus ‘normal’ stretching. ‘Normal’ stretching can be inhibitory to the muscles making them less reactive which is not something we want before sport or a higher-level activity.
In our last blog post we briefly discussed the use of stretching for reducing pain, increasing flexibility, relaxing the body, and improving the cardiovascular system. We touched upon finding stretches on YouTube and are they the best ones for you? Stretches can be done in different ways and have varying benefits. This blog post will focus on ‘myofascial’ type of stretching.
What is myofascial stretching? Myofascial simply means muscle and fascial stretching. Fascia is the connective tissue of the body that surrounds muscle tissue (and all other tissues and every cell of the body) and under a microscope can look like a spider webbing.
How could a fascia focused stretch be different than a muscle focused one? . That’s a great question.
Stretching is one of the first things people think to do when they are having pain and YouTube provides the answer. Sciatica?...YouTube says stretch the piriformis. Plantar fasciitis?…stretch the calf muscles. We agree that stretching can be a very effective way to reduce pain/discomfort, increase flexibility, and even improve the cardiovascular system. Stretching is a powerful tool to bring the body into better balance. But sometimes stretching the wrong muscle group or performing stretches incorrectly can make things worse. That’s why if your YouTube stretches aren’t working then you should find an expert who can give you the best stretches for what your body needs.
What many people don’t realize is that there are different ways stretching can be performed that have different effects on the body. The majority of people who stretch tend to hold a position for 30 seconds and repeat several times. This is one way to perform a stretch.
At Body Evolution Physical Therapy & Wellness we believe intention is key. When you start a stretching program what is your intention? Why are you stretching? Is it to reduce pain or gain mobility? Do you want to feel more relaxation? Stretching can be an important part of a healthy lifestyle and we want you to find what’s best for meeting your lifestyle goals.
Over the next several posts we will discuss different ways of stretching and why you might choose one over the other.
The first part of the series we will focus on myofascial stretching.
Don't hesitate to comment below or ask one of our therapists a question about stretching. We can help you get back to an active, healthy lifestyle.
Have you ever had back pain so bad you felt you couldn’t move? You just wanted to lie in bed all day? I know from experience what that feels like and believe me the last thing I wanted to do was move. But here is the thing…bedrest is not best for a back injury. The old saying ‘motion is lotion’ holds true even when you are having pain. You just have to modify your activity and take some steps to manage the pain.
(Click Read More for some simple tips to manage back pain.)
I'm just a guy helping active adults and athletes frustrated by nagging aches and pains naturally return to a healthy lifestyle.