Most people are familiar with the saying ‘prevention is better than a cure’. Well, one of the best ways to prevent musculoskeletal aches and pains is to stay active – many of the problems we see as physiotherapists are the result of bad movement patterns/postures, or simply not moving at all.
How long do you think you sit each day? Honestly? For most people, this includes the drive to work, the majority of the work day, the drive home, sitting in front of the tv while you unwind… that’s a long time! For many people, it can often be the whole day! Do you get regular headaches? Neck pain? Shoulder pain? Back pain? In many cases these pains can be traced back to sitting in a poor position for prolonged periods of time.
Most of the clients we see day to day have some poor posture habits that have, over time, led to structural changes – upper back rounding, poked neck, protracted shoulders. So how do we combat this modern problem of sittingallday-itis? Easy! Prioritise being active, and make time to move as a human body should. General guidelines are 30-60 minutes of activity a day. This may or may not be suitable for your schedule/lifestyle, so don’t think if you can’t accomplish this that all is lost.
So, where to start? The gym is commonly thought of as the place to get fit, lose weight and lift heavy things but it is by no means the best or only option for everyone. Prefer to be outdoors? Go for a jog (hey, there’s a free treadmill outside! Who knew?), a bicycle ride, a hike, or a kayak! Prefer the indoors? Join a gym, take up a martial art, try adult gymnastics, a dance class, yoga or pilates. There is an almost overwhelming number of ways to keep fit and healthy, often times the hardest part is simply taking that first step. Try a few different things out over time and see what you enjoy!
Once you have found something you enjoy, and it may take trying a few things you don’t, the biggest hurdle is consistency. If you have spent many months/years being inactive, it will take some time to change how your body moves and it will quite often leave you sore in new places. This is normal and to be expected. The key to minimising the potential for injury, as well as the time it takes your muscles to recover, is to gradually increase the time and intensity of your activity of choice. Don’t go from zero exercise to running 10+km every day, your body is not prepared for that level of physical activity. Create a manageable plan and stick to it, small steps in the right direction will have you making progress without getting injured, which can often lead to downtime that puts you back at square one.
If you experience any pain or injuries from being more active, physiotherapy can help by correcting movement patterns, strengthening weak or inactive muscles and of course diagnosing potential injuries. In many cases it is beneficial to get your movement and function assessed before getting started – prevention is better than cure!
Inspired Physiotherapy offers a number of services to help you get and stay active:
– Pilates classes on Wednesday and Saturday
– Technique coaching for those starting out in the gym
– Functional assessments to help ensure you are moving correctly
– Massage for the aches and pains that can often occur with new activity
So get out there! Get moving!!! Have some fun with it too!
– Chris Mooney (Physiotherapist)