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Sitting – the new epidemic

Whatever sport you do you’re no doubt putting in endless hours of specific training, along with maybe some alternative recovery and rehab sessions like yoga and stretching. However, like most people, there’s even one more activity you’re probably doing more of than even sleeping – sitting! It’s the new epidemic.

We all spend too much time sitting. Whether it’s in the car, at work, at home or at the dinner table – you always find yourself sitting.  This situation gets even worse if your job involves a computer. If you do have a job where a computer is an essential part of your day, chances are you spend more time sitting in front of a screen than you do exercising.

If sitting were a sport, we’d probably all be World Champions.  How many hours a week do you think you sit for?  A full-time desk job could have you sitting for 40 hours a week.  I bet if you checked your Strava, your training hours would be around 6 to 8 for the above average athlete – way less than the time you spend sitting.

It’s obvious that when we sit for most of our week, slouching hours at a time in front of a computer, problems are inevitably going to occur.  Muscular imbalances, lower back pain, tightness, all of which can carry across into our training causing more pain, stresses and even injuries. You probably end up looking like this for most of your day:

Sitting is the new epidemic. Not so much the act of sitting, but how we sit – slouching, neck forward, shoulders internally rotated, lower back collapsing. Core muscles disengaged. Glutes asleep. Hip-flexors and hamstrings shortened. Just like the image here.

Those that train for many hours and then hold an office job can tell you how bad this recipe is. What you think is a training issue stems from prolonged sitting after your workouts. Added to this could be RSI from your computer mouse, screen and a bad office chair. Your workouts may not be enough to counteract prolonged sitting. In fact, even a yoga class during the week may still not be enough to wake up sleepy glutes, undo tight hamstrings and wound up iliotibial bands.

So what can you do? The solution is to treat your sitting, as an extension of your overall training. Seek ways to cultivate healthy postural habits throughout the day that will positively transfer to your sport.

What’s key is to be as disciplined in the way you sit, as that you give your training sessions.  Correct posture is key and a big part of this is how you set up your sitting spaces [like your office desk]. Click here for more info.

You need to sit up in that chair, keeping your back straight with a slight forward pelvic tilt to maintain the lordosis of your lower back.  Your head should be in a neutral position – meaning that you might have to lift your computer screen right up. Roll your shoulders back and let your scapula’s move down your back. Your ears should be aligned over your shoulders, and your shoulders over your hips to avoid that forward slouch.

Stand up desks are gaining popularity – as it’s said it will be better posture for you, however you still need to be very careful.  You can still ‘slouch’ while standing – and in fact contribute to sitting issues.

Caitlin, one of our Senior Physiotherapists here at Barefoot Physiotherapy, reminds me all the time that “the best position, is the next position”. So, at the least, incorporate frequent breaks into your workday to break up extended hours of sitting or standing at a desk. Lunch break walks, having to move to get to the printer will all assist your body. In fact a friend of mine ensures that they drink water all day, not to just stay hydrated, but to get you walking to the toilet.

There’s so many things you can do at your desk, in your chair or while standing in your office cubicle. Muscle activation exercises and stretching is always available to you, and don’t make you look too stupid to your work colleagues. In fact, when you begin to stretch, it’s infectious – anyone watching will usually start to do the same and comment, “oh yeah, I need to do some of that”. Here’s 10 ideas to get you moving:

  1. Nod your head as you would say yes, then increase the range of movement so that your chin touches your chest and then look raise your head and look at the ceiling above you. Then gently tilt the head from side to side, ears to shoulders.
  2. Roll your shoulders, forward and backwards – feel how awesome that is.
  3. Interlock your fingers behind your back, straighten your arms and stretch the front body. Look up, look down while you do this.
  4. Just stand up! Do number 3. Above while standing in a gentle lunge – oh yeah.
  5. While standing, you can do a forward bend and stretch the hamstrings and calves. For the more adventurous, stand on one leg as you bend the raised foot to your glutes for a lovely quadricep stretch. Push that hip forward to stretch the hip flexors. Change legs.
  6. While standing, place a hand on your desk, stretch your fingers wide, as far apart as they can go. Straighten your arm and then do some arm rotations – internal and external. Great for the rotator cuff and your wrist. Change arms. Do both arms. Do it against a wall. Have fun.
  7. Put a heel on your chair, straighten that leg and stretch your hamstring. For the more flexible, use your desk [you might have to take your shoes off].
  8. While the leg is on your chair or desk, rotate your torso over the leg, trying to get your shoulders parallel with the leg – your ITB, piriformis and glutes will thank you.
  9. Do some calf raises, both legs, then one leg with the raised foot locked behind your grounded foot. Hold on to something if you can’t balance.
  10. Get to that in-office corporate yoga program that HR has been beating on about.

Of course if you’re doing a lot of these exercises during your day and still can’t get rid of that niggle in your back or legs, feel free to click here to make a booking with us.

So your spending more time sitting at a desk or in a car during the week – undoing all that fantastic training and potentially hurting your body more than you know. The key is to focus on good posture and breaking up hours in a chair with movement –whether it’s light activities, stretching, walking or anything that supports your overall health and fitness goals.

We’d love to hear back from you around your thoughts on sitting. How long do you sit during your day? What do you do to counteract the effects of sitting? Feel free to comment below, or email us here.

A passion for soccer – a quick chat with Charlotte

It won’t surprise you that Barefooters love getting out and about, moving everyday in a way they enjoy. Women’s soccer has really taken off in the past decade, with teams sprouting up all over Brisbane with quite a competitive Brisbane Premier League as a result. If you’ve ever watched a game, you’ll see how competitive and skilful these ladies are.  Our Physio Kirsten recently sat down with Charlotte to find out why she has such a passion for soccer.

 

How did your passion for soccer develop?

I’ve always had a keen interest for all things sport, and kind of just fell into playing soccer when I was young. I guess over time I’ve developed a real passion for soccer, mainly because I love the skill, athleticism and having a great time with other girls on the field.

 

 

 

Sports can have some pretty crazy traditions or pre game routines, do you have anything you do to get ready for a big game?

Definitely nothing too crazy. If I have the time, on the day of a game I like to go out and have a kick of the ball to get some touch. And I always put on my left sock and left boot on first, but I think that’s more just out of a habit. [ha, ha, we definitely think that’s a good-luck superstition! ed.]

 

What is your favourite pre game meal?

Something with bread usually haha, avocado on Turkish bread is probably my real favourite. 

 

You recently went on a trip to New Zealand, where is your next trip going to be and why?

The next big trip on the bucket list is Canada because it looks so beautiful. Closer to home, I’d also really like to go to Tasmania and do some of the hikes down there. 

 

Rapid fire, 5 Fun facts about you 

– I’m a massive Newcastle Knights fan

– I love travelling but I absolutely hate flying 

– My sporting idols are Andrew Johns and Roger Federer 

– I love dogs and have a black Labrador named Ari who hunts bush turkeys 

– I love the beach and in an alternate life would have loved to be a professional surfer

 

We love hearing about Barefooters and what they get up to in their spare time.  Whether you have a passion for soccer or some other sport, we’d love to hear from you.  If you’d like to let us know about what you get up to, please don’t hesitate to contact us so that we can arrange a quick chat and some photos – email us.  Also, after seeing Charlotte’s pictures and reading her story, if you’d like to get into soccer, you can click this link to Football Brisbane.

…and of course, if you’re injured or just feeling a bit sore and tired from your Barefoot adventures, you can always come and see us: I need an appointment

 

Turtle Conservation in Malaysia

Putting her diving ability to good use while she studies for a Masters Degree in the Environment, Kirsten recently landed her Dream Job studying and caring for Turtles in Malaysia.  Turtle Conservation is her passion and her journey is amazing. We’re excited to share her story:

You have just scored your dream job, working in turtle conservation in Malaysia for 8 months. Tell us more about what the job entails and why you are so passionate about this work

I have worked on a few turtle conservation projects in the past, which have involved patrolling the beaches at night for nesting mothers. When you come across one there is often a procedure of measuring, tagging and observing the nest and its parameters which are crucial to understand their mortality rates. The work also involves tracking hatched nests, their success rate and causes of depredation among the eggs.

Turtles are the most magnificent animals to work with and I’ve never felt more peaceful than sitting with a mum as she’s laying. Sometimes it isn’t the most glamorous work (scrambled turtle eggs and vultures is not an uncommon combination) and walking anywhere up to 8km throughout the night can be tough but being around these prehistoric creatures make it all worth it in a heartbeat.

The programme I’ll be looking after in Malaysia will cover all these things, where I’ll be working to coordinate volunteers from all over the map. I’ll have some big shoes to fill but having the beach as an office has been my dream for some time!

A few projects I’ve worked on have also involved surveying the beaches for poachers. Luckily this isn’t a problem in Australia, however is still a reality in many countries where sea turtles lay their eggs. I fell in love with sea turtles on a project in Costa Rica in 2012 with an amazing crew of local conservationists who were dedicating their lives to protecting them. Only a few months after I came home in 2013 one of my mentors, Jairo Mora Sandoval was brutally murdered by poachers. Its hard to believe, but this is how serious animal trades have become in some parts. I’ve never met someone as passionate for conservation as him, and I promised myself that Jairo’s death would not be in vain.

One of your big passions in life is scuba diving – tell us what it is you love so much about diving and where are some of your favourite dives?

 The feeling I get when I’m underwater is indescribable. It’s one thing to sit on the beach and marvel at the view but knowing what lies beneath makes me appreciate what I’m looking at a whole lot more. I feel so lucky to live in a world where such exquisite life exists. And even better is how us humans have worked out how to breathe underwater!

 

 

Every dive is different, but my most memorable ones have been throughout Central America. I dived in a cenoté in Mexico which is an underwater limestone cave that you enter through a hole that may only be a few metres wide but would open up to a range of huge caverns underneath. It was extremely challenging both mentally and physically, knowing that you had to conserve enough air to be able to follow a line throughout the cavern. At one point we surfaced into ’The Bat Cave’, which as the name suggests, was full of bats hanging from the stalactites (those formations that hang eerily from the roof). I don’t know if I’d do that bit again!

Nothing compares to exploring your own backyard and diving over at Stradbroke Island during Grey Nurse Shark season is truly amazing. They are gentle sharks who nurse their young in the waters off Straddie, and I’ve been lucky enough to see a manta rays, turtles, nudibranchs and so much more on the same dive!

 

Tradie Health Month! Are you at risk of injury?

August is Tradie Health Month and we wanted to thank all the wonderful tradies for doing what they do! With that said, the work involved on a day to day basis for tradies can often be demanding on your body. 

There is an ever increasing number of injuries that occur when tradies are working. Did you know that 1 in 5 workplace injuries involve those working on the tools? What you may not know is that the predominant amount of these injuries are preventable – Physio Alistair has all the details!

How to tell if your body may be at risk of injury

Before a painful injury occurs there are often clues that the body is being exposed to strain. You may feel tightness or soreness in your muscles, stiffness through your back, or perhaps there will be days where a body part aches, and then the next day it feels totally fine. These are all signs that your body is under too much strain and there is a limitation causing the body not to move as well as it should.

Strategies to prevent injury

    1. See a physio – A physiotherapist will assess your movements, muscles and joints to see where your body is limited. At Barefoot we will treat the cause of your movement limitations and teach you strategies to maintain good movement. Once your body is able to move better you are less likely to load up other body structures which may be compensating for poor movement in another area of your body. The result is better movement, less pain and stiffness, and more knowledge on how you can best look after yourself.
    2. Develop a technique to keep your back in it’s optimal position while performing heavy physical tasks. If you’ve ever experienced an episode of back pain you’ll know how debilitating it can be. Any movement at all feels uncomfortable and you can’t do the physical activities required for everyday life. To prevent injury to the back it is helpful to learn what in fact neutral spine is and how it feels to move maintaining neutral. We call this this the two-hand check and have adapted it from the book Becoming a Supple Leopard by Kelly Starrett. Here’s how to do it:
    1. Place one hand at the bottom of your sternum with your palm facing down and your other hand at your pubic bone palm up. This should create two parallel horizontal planes – the top hand represents the bottom of the ribcage while the bottom hand represents the pelvis.
    2. Lean back and forward and notice how your hands move apart when you’re overextended and together when you’re rounded forward. These are indications that your spine isn’t in neutral. While the spine LOVES to move (and we love it to do so!) when a task is heavy it is best to maintain neutral spine as this places the least amount of strain on it.
    3. Have a go with your mates seeing if you can do a squat while maintaining neutral spine!

( See from left to right – Neutral, Extended, Bent)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Get your work mates involved to call you out when you’re in a poor position! See your buddy hunched over in some funky position when he’s lifting something? – let him know about it! It’s easy to fall back into old habits and ways of moving and we all need reminders to stay in a position that’s going to prevent injury. Having others to keep you accountable in maintaining a good position will help you build this habit and prevent injury long term.

Want to learn more, or pop in to see one of the Barefoot Team? Click here. To get involved visit the Tradies health Facebook page or the Tradies health website.

Accumulative Strain explained

You’re bending down, or doing a movement you have done hundreds of times and then all of a sudden you’re in a world of pain. Accumulative strain can present in multiple ways, and significantly affect how we function and move on a day to day basis.

Have you turned slightly the wrong way and had your back go?

Have you had an injury seemingly come out of nowhere?

These are just a few examples of how accumulative strain presents in our body.

 

So what is Accumulative Strain?

It is a build-up of load from various sources, such as:

  • Postural load
  • Sports technique
  • Previous Injury
  • Poor footwear
  • Lack of sleep
  • Stressful/Emotional load on our brain (anxiety, worry, depression)
  • General Health issues (immune system, endocrine/hormonal systems, infections, illness)

And leads to:

  • Tight muscles
  • Stiff joints
  • Irritated nerves

One thing on its own may not be enough to cause injury or symptoms, but in combination, strain can add up so that a small change in one aspect of your life can lead to a seemingly disproportionate amount of pain/ injury/ dysfunction. If previous injuries/stressors were never completely resolved we bring our tipping point closer to the pain threshold.

In the graph below you can see this depicted. Ideally everyone should be functioning in the optimal zone. This is when muscles and joints feel relaxed and mobile, movement ranges are 75% + and other factors such as nutrition, sleep and stress are being addressed.

What can I do to limit strain?

To limit strain in your body you want to improve all aspects that contribute to it. For example:

  • Improve your posture at work, on the couch at home, driving in your car, or standing at a bar having a drink.
  • Set your workstation up best for YOU!
  • Ensure you are as fit and strong as you can be for the activities you do.
  • Be smart about your footwear.
  • Getting enough sleep. Sleep is essential for brain development and cell recovery.
  • Lead a Balanced Lifestyle. Try to take time out to do the things you enjoy often. Working too much or feeling stressed can have negative effects on your body & your health.
  • See a Barefoot Physiotherapist. To work out if strain is building up in your body that would eventually become an issue, we can do a thorough assessment of your nerves, muscles, joints and postures. You do not need to have symptoms to have an assessment. It is a positive step towards injury prevention.

At Barefoot our goal is to get you back to doing what you love. Whether you are an elite athlete, an office worker, a parent or even a student, it’s so important to listen to your body. At Barefoot Physiotherapy we want to help you continue to live the life you choose, pain free. Want to find out more? Click here.