Moving Well, Aging Well
by Jessica Durr, Dr. of Physical Therapy
We have a MOVEMENT CRISIS!
Why is it that Americans experience a high incidence of orthopedic injury? The truth is that, according to the CDC, the average American exercises or walks less than 1 hour a day. This accounts for only 1 out of the 16 available hours of movement daily (if we sleep 8 hours a night), which means we are moving only 6% of our available day. In addition, the workplace environment can make more movement difficult to achieve, which leads to high repetitive injury rates.
We thought sitting was the new smoking, so we switched from sitting desks to standing desks, but is this a solution?
There was a study done in 2016 (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29388500) on standing desks. It showed that standing desks also have a downside to them: decreased sustained attention and increased physical discomfort (suggesting the two are related). One of my favorite authors on this subject is Katy Bowman. In her books Move Your DNA and Don’t Just Sit There, she explains that swapping sedentary sitting time for sedentary standing time is not a full solution for the body because both are still static positions. Static positioning is not nourishing to your body, and then when you add hard surfaces or positive-heeled shoes to standing, now you’re really increasing the loads to your lower legs, while also negatively impacting the venous return systems.
So what is the SOLUTION to feeling better while working at home or in the workplace, when our main goal is to be productive?
MOVE MORE! Right? But how?
When trying to figure out how to move more and move in a way that nourishes your body, first consider my video on alignment ( https://youtu.be/hNkEM_Hv0sQ ) and apply that whenever you are sitting or standing for prolonged periods. When required to be still for prolonged periods, it’s best to place yourself in a better alignment to better distribute forces on the joints. Even in sitting our pelvis position should be in a position of front “hip bones” (aka ASIS/anterior superior iliac spine) are in the same plane as your “pubic bone” (aka pubic symphysis); this allows for a small curve in your lower back (the area just above your pelvis)- see photo below for anatomy points. Read the following article for a greater understanding of a neutral pelvis: http://www.balancemyworld.co.uk/how-to-find-neutral-pelvis/.
In order to achieve this neutral pelvis, it may take time, and/or just creating a new habit regularly. When sitting on a chair, placing yourself towards the front edge of the chair with a towel rolled under your bottom can help assist your pelvis to roll forward into better alignment; then, allow your front ribs to tip slightly downward without changing the position of your pelvis. When standing, think about “backing your hips up” over your ankles and then allowing your ribs to drop slightly without tucking the pelvis back. This may feel difficult to do in the beginning. Repetition is KEY!
**NOTE: Don’t force your body into any painful positions, movements, or stretches. Work within your limits and try to make gradual progress over time.**
MORE MOVEMENT IDEAS!
1) Take more frequent work breaks to walk or stretch (5-10 min at a time if possible). If you have a phone call to take, and don’t need your computer, take a walk while talking on the phone. If you can take a walk or stretch without your phone, then work on some deep breathing at the same time. Breathing is a very important part of movement. If you can find uneven terrain or a hill, then you are getting even more nourishing movement to your body. Flat terrain puts limits on our bodies’ strength, mobility and balance.
2) Set up your space at home or work to help vary the type of movements you do in a day. Gradually increase how often you get on and off the floor (or on/off of a bolster/cushion on the floor) instead on/off a chair all the time. Find the lowest chair or bolster you can that will allow you to keep a neutral pelvis. Check out Katy’s video on her home life setup:https://nutritiousmovement.com/a-day-in-the-life/. There is also a great video of her home at the end of the article.
3) When sitting, sit in a variety of ways. Examples include: legs out forward, legs out wide, legs crossed with knee out (figure 4 stretch), knees shifted to one side and then the other. Switch the way you sit often throughout your day. Try to maintain a neutral pelvis while doing these.
4) Take eye movement breaks. If you’ve been looking at a screen for a long time, take a look outside a window at something far away. This relaxes (dilates) the pupil, whereas, up close vision constricts the pupil. Even better, take a walk while looking at something far away.
5) Perform stretching while you work (see some examples below).
“Work Time” Standing Exercises: I often do these while cooking!
-Reduce the stretch intensity by bending the knee of the leg that is back; to further reduce the intensity, sit in a chair with the knee bent (thigh, knee and ankle in straight line back behind you)
2) Calf Stretch (To Improve Walking, Balance and Foot Health):
– The double calf stretch/hip hinge can be done during break time.
3) Ball or Rock Therapy (More for Healthy Feet):
-Grab a tennis ball or some “yoga therapy” balls and start rolling your foot out while standing (if it’s too intense, you can make this a sitting exercise). Roll along your foot very thoroughly, just as you would vacuum every inch of room. Hang out on the areas that are “sticky” for 5-20 seconds at a time.
-You can also make a rock mat like this one I made below. To make the rock pressure less intense, put on your socks or throw a yoga mat on top of the rocks.
“Break Time” Exercises:
-I forgot to mention in this video, if you hyperextend your elbows, allow your elbows to bend slightly during this exercise. If you don’t know if you are hyperextending or not, ask me the next time you see me!
3) Shoulder Stretches! They are the best after typing for long periods! During the triceps, biceps and chest stretches, drop your ribs down a bit after you’ve started, and you should feel the intensity of the stretch increase. During the biceps stretch, start with arms behind you, squeezing shoulder blades down and together, gradually lift arms (bending over intensifies the stretch).
These are just a FEW ideas! Stay tuned, as I will be making more restorative exercise-based videos in the future and sharing them with you all!
This brings me to some FINAL QUESTIONS!
“What if your pain and lack of mobility aren’t due to your age, but your habits?
What if changing how you move can change how you feel, no matter your age?” – Katy Bowman
I will be offering three “Restorative Exercise” Workshops that will be donation-based. These will teach more in-depth knowledge about your alignment and how to move better and more throughout your daily life so that you may age dynamically and well in your later years! There have been many people who have found recommended surgeries unnecessary and regained strength and mobility, and they move more (and better) than they did a decade prior after integrating many of the strategies that come from a restorative exercise class or workshop.
More about the Author:
Jessica trains regular weekly small group sessions at Vibrant Fitness at the fairgrounds.
(Currently on Mondays and Wednesdays at 5:30AM and 8:30 AM)
She also trains workshops around South Whidbey Island.
These teach more in-depth knowledge about your alignment and how to move better and more throughout your daily life so that you may age dynamically and well in your later years!
There have been many people who have found recommended surgeries unnecessary and regained strength and mobility, and they move more (and better) than they did a decade prior after integrating many of the strategies that come from a restorative exercise class or workshop.
Contact her via the e-mail window on our homepage
RESTORATIVE EXERCISE WORKSHOPS
Whidbey Island Yoga Studio in Langley, WA from 2:30 – 4:30 pm
April 22nd, 2:30-4:30
**Attendance is limited to 10 people**
Please let me know if you would like to attend!