Top tips for keeping you body happy at work!

Top 5 tips for those who are sitting at their desk all day.

If you are an office worker chances are you have come across or experienced first hand the pains of sitting for too long. While a typical desk job may seem to expose the body to little physical strain, prolonged sitting can wreak havoc on the body. The reason for this is that we are meant to move. Our anatomy and biology is set up for us to walk, stand, squat, twist, pull, push and a whole lot more. As the saying goes, “if you don’t use it, you lose it”. In this case sitting all day causes us to lose our mobility. Muscles become tight and weak, our posture changes, and we become stiff and sore. To remove the risks of prolonged sitting check out our list of top things to do to maintain your mobility and move well regardless of the demands of your job.

  1. Perform an audit of your workstation setup

Often making a few changes to your workstation can cause you to form good posture without having to even think about it. Here’s some common faults and fixes for your workstation setup.

Common faults with workstation setup:

  • Chair too low → looking up at monitor
  • Monitor too low → looking down at monitor
  • Desk too low or seat too high → hunched over keyboard

Fix these with:

  • Chair at proper height → eyes are level with top of monitor
  • Hands comfortably at keyboard → shoulders are not rounded
  • Monitor at correct height → neck in neutral position

Want to learn more about how to setup your workstation? Click here.

 

Optimise your sitting posture:

often when we think about posture, it can seem overwhelming, often you are left with one question . . . What is the right way to position my body?

To ensure that the curves of the spine are maintained: roll your pelvis forward until you achieve a very slight curve in the lower back, sit up a little straighter through your mid/upper back, and check that the position of your head isn’t too far forward of back. It should feel nice and balanced over the rest of your body.

The next step is to get used to what being in this position feels like so you can adjust your position without thinking about it too much. After this you must form a habit of getting into and maintaining this position. To form a habit it is helpful to have habit triggers. Every time one of the following occurs hold your good posture for 5-6 deep breaths or until you forget about it:

  • You get an email
  • You answer or hang up the phone
  • You take a sip of water
  • You set your desktop background to a picture of someone with good posture and do what they do when you see it.
  • You set a reminder on your phone to notify you that its time to practice your posture habit.

Remember the most important point is that the body is made to MOVE. Even though we have outlined a perfect posture position above, remember that it’s always good to change positions often.

Regularly change your position throughout the day.

Been sitting for an hour? Why not stand for the next half hour? Or even kneel? The point is to do something different and to put your joints in a different position.

Don’t have this option? Get up go for a short walk to refill your water bottle, make a tea, go to the bathroom. You could even try marching on the spot, rolling your shoulders in circles, or doing a couple yoga moves. The takeaway from this is that there a million +1 ways to move your body and you must move it away from the position you have been spending a lot of time in.

Ideally change your position every 20-30 minutes but another useful technique is to listen to your body, i.e. is it starting to feel stiff? Are you starting to twist and move around in your seat to find a better position? If so, it’s time for a break. Get up and move or change your work position.

  1. Move often

 This can take the form of formal exercise, gardening, going for walks, anything really. If your body can handle regular movement/exercise it will develop better resilience to the strain that lengthy desk work can have on the body. Plus you’ll reap the numerous other health benefits of exercise.

  1. Get a thorough assessment from your physiotherapist

At Barefoot Physiotherapy, we assess your nerves, joints, muscles and movements to measure the amount of strain you have built up in your body. You do not need to have any symptoms or conditions to have this assessment; think about it like going to the dentist for a check-up to prevent something happening! If there is any strain building up in your body, we can help teach you how to reduce the strain and prevent it coming back again. Want to learn more or book an appointment? Click here.

Stretching vs Releases

Ever had a tight muscle that doesn’t seem to budge no matter how many stretches you do? It’s so common at Barefoot to have new clients tell us ” I stretch my ** tight muscle ** all the time and it still feels super tight” . . . so why is this happening?

Alot of tight muscles often have palpable “knots” and “triggers” in them. These are specific areas of contracted muscle within the entire muscle belly. To target these specific “hard or ropey” spots it is more effective to perform muscle releases (using a ball, pocket physio, foam roller, dry needling or trigger point massage) rather than doing a stretch. When you “muscle release” this allows for sustained pressure on a trigger point, at a specific angle held for around 90 seconds for 2-3 different spots per muscle group.

Muscle Releases

Muscle releases can still be performed if your muscle is tight due to nerve irritation, however stretching should definitely be avoided. It is difficult to know whether you have nerve irritation or not until it is tested by a qualified Physiotherapist. If you have consistently stretched a muscle correctly for >3 days and you’ve had no change, then you’ve tried doing muscle releases and there is still no change, then it is likely that there could be nerve involvement. Luckily at Barefoot this is something we test and specialise in, so if you need to get this checked click here to book an appointment.

Stretching can be effective if you have an entire muscle group that is notably tight and is not originating from nerve irritation. If this is the case, it is important to hold your stretches for a minimum of 60 seconds each using the correct technique to have the desired effect. If you do not know the correct technique, a Physiotherapist can help teach you.

So how will this help your muscles & body?

  1. Your muscles will feel “good” when relaxed at rest.
  2. Your injuries will be prevented
  3. Allows you to maintain full motion of your joints
  4. Allows full strength by having full range of motion
  5. Your recovery will be quicker after exercise!
  6. Your muscle soreness will be reduced
  7. Happy muscles & joints = happy nerves!
  8. Sports performance will be improved
  9. A reduction in headaches
  10. To stop us feeling old & creaky!
When and How?

Practicing muscle releases or stretches everyday is ideal. We recommend you set aside a minimum of 10 minutes a day to work on the areas that make the biggest difference to your body.  If you have a few areas to work on, you have had a big day at work or you are exercising at a high level, we would recommend 20-30 mins. If you aren’t sure what areas need to be released in your body to help you perform better, a Barefoot Physiotherapist will do a head-to-toe assessment to work out where you need to focus on for your body.It is normal to feel some discomfort during these releases and it should stop as soon as you release the pressure. If it doesn’t, please notify your Physiotherapist to find out why. Remember to breathe while you do your releases! Breathing in & out deeply will help relax the muscle contraction and speed up the releasing effect.

Be aware of your position while you stretch/release. Our brain always likes to take the easy option, so it will sometimes sub-consciously put us in the position where we get the least resistance. This doesn’t help us achieve the flexibility we are after. Posture and technique are key to sustaining a good stretch on a muscle. Want to know more? Check out the rest of our post here.

Sarah’s musical adventures

Barefooter Sarah has a love for all things musical theatre related and travel! She’s performed in over 12 different musicals and travelled overseas to many different cities and countries including New York and England. Physio Kirsten sat down with Sarah to hear all about her incredible performance in Wicked, and to chat about what is next for her travels!

You have been involved in musical theatre! How did you get involved in this?

I always had a love of performing since childhood (not surprising seeing as Mum is a speech and drama teacher and Dad is a jazz musician), and forced my family to sit through countless living-room performances in my early years. The first time I experienced musical theatre at the age of 10 as a chorus member of Joseph and the Technicolour Dreamcoat with the Toowoomba Choral Society Youth Choir. I had a broken arm at the time, so my family could pick me out from the other 100 children by looking for a blindingly white cast waving about. That really kick-started my love for musical theatre and the people who work so hard to create something magical.

What has been your favourite role and why?

Since Joseph, I have performed in 12 different musicals in my spare time over the years, but I would have to say my favourite role so far has been Nessarose in the Empire Theatre’s production of Wicked. I discovered Wicked as a young teen, and absolutely fell in love with the story, the characters and the music. Playing Nessarose 10 years later was a dream come true for little Sarah. It was also exciting and challenging to play a character who changes so much over the course of the show, from being quite innocent and sheltered, to becoming one of the few characters who is truly “wicked”.

You grew up in Toowoomba, how does that compare to living in Brissy? Fav spots to hit up when you are back visiting?

Toowoomba was a great place to grow up, and I love going back to visit family and friends. However, I love living and studying in Brisbane as there are so many opportunities, things to do, and people to meet. When I visit Woomby (as I like to call it) I usually can be found visiting the local parks (especially at Carnival of Flowers time), as well as checking out some street art and local cafes, and of course catching a show at the Empire Theatre.

Other fun facts:

Another great passion of mine is travelling – I think it’s similar to performing in that you get to experience things, people and cultures you would never encounter in your own every day life. Of course, combining those two passions is the best part – being lucky enough to travel to New York and see some life-changing performances, as well as living close enough to London for a year that I spent every paycheck on a different show! Aside from sitting and watching show after show, I love exploring a new place by foot and getting to know what really makes that place and it’s people special.

If you know of someone who would benefit from popping in to see the Barefoot Team, feel free to send them to our website. Or to read more about Barefoot Physiotherapy, click here.

Women’s Health Week: Pelvic floor and Pregnancy Tips

Pregnancy is such an exciting time, however it can also bring a lot of questions about your health & well being. As your pregnancy progresses and your baby bump grows it’s important to strengthen your pelvic floor and improve pelvic floor health.  Sami Cattich from Body Birth Physio gave us her tops tips for improving the health of your pelvic floor, positive positions and how to maintain posture throughout your pregnancy!

√ – Practice Good Alignment

Poor alignment affects our pelvic floor muscles decreasing the ability of the abdominal and gluteal muscles (which are essential to the function of the pelvic floor!) to respond appropriately. Since your becomes used to what you do most frequently, continuous poor alignment while sitting, walking, or standing will result in a less functional pelvic floor. 

Often when you’re pregnant, or even when you aren’t it can be so easing to stand in positions that cause us to lean our pelvis our in front. With the hips out in front of you, your pelvic floor muscles are no longer able to appropriately respond to the load of the rest of the body and belly above it, and as such will not receive the input to build the strength required to support this extra weight – so pregnant or not, think hips over heels!

 √ – Sit With a Neutral Pelvis

Having a slouchy posture with your weight on your tailbone or sacrum (which is the middle of your pelvis) will put you pelvic floor muscles again into a disadvantaged position where it cannot do its job properly. Furthermore, pushing the sacrum INWARDS, especially when the ligaments are more stretchy thanks to pregnancy hormones, will have the affect of shortening the pelvic floor muscles and narrowing the pelvic outlet or birth canal – not something you want to be doing leading up to childbirth. The solution? When sitting – get your weight ON your ischial tuberosities (i.e. your “Sit Bones”) and OFF your tailbone and sacrum.

 √ – Release Your Stomach and Abdomen

Unfortunately this can be one of the most difficult tips to master ( we struggle with this too!) We’ve been conditioned from a young age as women to believe slim is desirable and as such suck in our stomachs and tense our abdomens on a daily basis.  However what you may not know is that this inhibits the ability of the pelvic floor and abdomen from functioning properly? That pressure has to go somewhere, and its usually down towards your pelvic floor causing undue stress and strain on the pelvic floor muscles. Try to relax and release your tummy & try not to wear restrictive or tight clothing that causes you to “suck in”. 

 √ – Employ a Proper Position While On the Toilet

Who would have thought that there was a proper position while on the toilet?!?

The most natural position while going to the bathroom is squatting. It allows your muscles to relax and removes the kink in your bowel that would otherwise make things difficult.  Unfortunately for those living in most western countries the height and shape of your toilets are not set up to allow for this. The solution? A raised platform like a shoe-box, stool, or squatty potty (if you haven’t heard of it, they explain this whole squatting while on the toilet concept in the most entertaining of fashions here) under your feet to allow you to assume this all natural position while going to the bathroom. 

The squatting position will also allow you to go without pushing – which is you do not want to be doing, especially when pregnant with the ligaments being more prone to stretch because of hormones. Pushing on the toilet can be a large contributor to prolapse and pelvic pain, so don’t go until your body lets you know its time and try to relax.

 √ – Wear Flat Shoes

They may make our legs longer & come in all different heights, shapes and sizes but for pelvic health  Unfortunately I’m not just talking about your favourite pair of stilettos, I’m also talking about those running shoes with a padded and elevated heel. Your pelvic floor health starts at your feet, the more time you spend in a shoe with a heel that is higher at the front than it is at the back, the more your body will adapt to that position – think shortened calf muscles and a pelvis that is constantly trying to compensate for being loaded in the wrong position. 

What you may not know is that wearing heals over a long period of time and cause your body to adapt even when you take them off! So we suggest trying out a pair of cute flat shoes, with a neutral heel when moving and exercising.

 √ – Move

This one is relatively straight forward, get up and about and keep moving! Sitting in the same position for long periods of time can cause shorting of your hips muscles, limiting the mobility of your pelvis and also contributes heavily to pregnancy-related lower back pain. 

Try to plan a walking meeting at work, stand at your desk occasionally, take a movement break, or print at the furthest printer from your desk – the options are infinite and the result is you getting move movement into your day.

Thanks to Sami Cattach from Body Birth Physio for these incredible tips and blog post !

To find out more about pregnancy and physio click here or follow the links to book in to see one of the Barefoot Team.