Adapting Your Life...
The Healthy View
The weeks have started to add up. You’ve spent a lot of time at home, isolating with your family and loved ones. But with everything going on in the world, we’re all experiencing poor posture, increased time on the couch, and rushed (and stressful) trips to the grocery store. So, this week’s Healthy View Blog is highlighting important tips, stretches, and practices to improve your day-to-day living in our new world.
As always, should you have any questions for our team of therapists, do not hesitate to reach out by emailing your questions. Your emails will be responded to as soon as possible.
Back Health while Working from Home
For many of us working from home, we’ve had to convert our home offices into our workspaces. Much like at the office, we should remain cognizant of our posture while we work, as sitting down for long periods of time, repetitive movements, and awkward work positions may lead to pain and discomfort. Moreover, prolonged sitting and screen time, can lead to improper postures such as forward head posture, that we’re all guilty of at one time or another. However, holding our heads forward of our shoulders over a prolonged period of time can lead to overactive and underactive muscles.
This common postural dysfunctional pattern is known as upper crossed syndrome, which puts increased stress on our head, neck, and shoulders. Upper crossed syndrome is commonly seen in people who work or sit at a desk all day with poor posture. In this case, the upper trapezius, levator scapula, and pectoral muscles become overactive and “tight” and the cervical flexor/deep neck flexor, lower trapezius, and serratus anterior muscles become inhibited and “weak”.
The Ontario Chiropractic Association offers ergonomic tips that will make your home work station more comfortable and help prevent chronic postural dysfunction such as upper crossed syndrome. In addition, as noted below, it is important to move and change positions regularly, in conjunction with stretching or movement breaks such as going for a walk, to ease the stress we put on our spine.
Have questions about this or any other posture-related issues, please reach out to David.
Posture Tips for Binge Watching
Okay. We know you're watching more tb than normal right now. I mean...who could avoid Tiger King?!? So, because of the increase in your binge watching behaviour, Joanne has some important posture tips for you to think about while you're spending time on the couch tonight.
Get up frequently and move!
Even the best position can cause stiff muscles and joints after a prolonged period of time. Aim for a postural change every 30 minutes. Walk a few laps around your house. Get some fresh air and stretch on your deck or balcony. Do 5 minutes of bodyweight exercises between episodes.
Don’t watch shows on your phone!
Make sure your screen is at eye level so your neck is in a neutral position and not flexed forward. Use a laptop stand or place your laptop on a stack of books, if needed. Ensure your screen is directly in front of you so you aren’t rotating your neck.
Set yourself up properly before hitting PLAY!
Sit all the way back in the chair or sofa. Make sure your back and neck are supported. Use pillows behind your low back so it isn’t rounded. A pillow under your knees is helpful if you’re watching in bed.
Do your physiotherapist’s favourite stretches:
- Cat Camel
- Figure 4 Glute Stretch
- Standing Side Bends
- Standing Calf Stretch
Have questions about your binge-watching posture? Reach out to Joanne directly.
How to Be Well
With the unique world situation we currently find ourselves in, personal and team creativity may provide healthy options and growing solutions. It’s important for us all to keep our bodies fit and our minds stable.
While we appreciate that stories continue to develop and it’s important to stay updated, it’s also good to take time to unplug from the media, limiting EMF (electric and magnetic fields) and blue screen exposure. These elements can heighten neural agitation and affect immune function.
We also suggest that you consider freshening up your living space: organize, try organic essential oils and natural area sprays, etc. This can provide a quiet space to set-up for some regeneration work of stretching, breathing, and meditating which is important for your physical and mental fitness.
During these adjusting and adapting times, you need to listen to your body. It’s a valuable self evaluation tool. Fit in light stretching, dynamic mobility, and breathe training. This can be a few 5 - 10 minute sessions, or longer 20 - 60 minute sessions, where you can ‘work-in’ to deeper layers and feel restrictions and messages from your body.
With prolonged sitting or limited body pumping, metabolism fluctuates, nervous system gets flat, and lymphatic and circulation stagnant. Find creative ways to move and spend more attention on areas of chronic restriction.
It is essential to get deep rest for healing and regeneration. This may allow for neural-hormonal (endocrine) repair and regeneration. Many are used to ‘going-fast’, and may have reached or been on their way to fatigue states. Fit in some long sleep or afternoon rest points. This can be aided by stretching or rhythmic breathing before rest to allow the ‘busy brain’ from being overactive during rest and repair time.
Rest well, be mobile, build physical/mental fitness in preparation for when the opportunity opens up to return to work and sport.
Here are a few stretches that can be practiced in sequence or individually. Work at your comfort level to build tension, good form, and progress to greater range of motion and micro adjustments. Modify position if required; there should be tension rather than pain or compression. Stretch hold time of 20 - 60 seconds, based on personal feel. After the session, lie on your back and work in some pump breathing; inhale through the nose, exhale through the mouth in moderate depth for 10 - 20 reps, then rest and meditate/centre for 2 – 20 minutes.
These are a few unique mobility tools.
Eldoa (segmental spinal stretching) and myo-fascial stretches are longitudinal stretches (full tension). This style of stretching is an active-integration and requires technical precision, quality awareness, and active muscular component. These fascial stretches aide structural mobility and neural-hormonal organization. The goal is to feel the tension, improve mobility, and bring this into daily improved posture and functional movement...create the space to move well.
- Myofascial Stretch – Psoas (L/R x 2), hold for 30 seconds each, rest for 5 seconds
- Myofascial Stretch – Rectus Femoris (L/R x 2), hold for 30 seconds each, rest for 5 seconds
- Myofascial Stretch – Rotational stretch, hold for 30 seconds each, rest for 5 seconds
- Eldoa – T6T7 (2 – 3), hold for 30 seconds each, rest for 5 seconds
- Eldoa – L5S1 (2 – 3), hold for 30 seconds each, rest for 5 seconds
- Cross-Body Stretch (L/R x 2), hold for 30 – 45 seconds each, rest for 5 seconds
If you have any questions about these stretches or your posture and mobility, please reach out to Rory.
Shopper's Guide to Health
It is more important now than ever to care for ourselves and the planet. One foundational way to do this is through impeccable nutrition. Here are a few tips to consider the next time you're selecting groceries for you and your family:
Do most of your shopping around the perimeter of the grocery store...
...this is where most of the whole foods are located. A diet rich in whole, fresh foods is integral for health. They also tend to have less of an environmental footprint, particularly when you choose locally grown items. Select items with an expiry date and read all labels; look for items grown in Canada. A good rule of thumb is that the best foods are those that do not require an ingredient list.
Eat the rainbow.
Consume a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, aiming for 8-12 servings per day (1 serving = 1/2 cup). Pigments that give produce items their colour are indicative of different nutrient profiles. For example, spinach, kale and other dark leafy greens are high in B vitamins, purple-blue items like blueberries or purple cabbage are rich in anthocyanins which are potent antioxidants, and orange vegetables provide the body with precursors to vitamin A. All of these nutrients are integral to health.
Consciously select your proteins.
Proteins include land and marine animal meats, eggs, dairy products, legumes, nuts, and seeds. To optimize your health and preserve that of the planet, select organic proteins. Avoid processed proteins and instead select whole foods - an organic grass-fed steak from a local farm, wild sustainably caught canned salmon, or organic eggs from well cared for hens. Rotate your proteins daily, ensuring you regularly have meals that are plant-based and contain a protein like lentils, chickpeas, organic tempeh, or nut butter.
Healthy fats are your friend.
Eliminate poor quality fats like vegetable and canola oils, and opt for a source of healthy fat in each meal. Examples of one serving of good quality fats include: 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive or coconut oils, a small handful of raw nuts, 1/4 avocado, a generous sprinkling of raw seeds, or 2 tbsp of nut butter.
Don’t avoid carbs...
...just choose the right ones. Fill your cart with grains that are close to what they look like when grown in nature. Avoid grains that have been ground into flour and combined with other ingredients. Whole brown or wild rice, steel cut oats, quinoa, millet and buckwheat groats are all excellent options that support healthy fibre intake and gut health.
Diet is one aspect of our daily lives where we can exercise choice; by choosing wisely, we will not only optimize our health as individuals, but also that of Mother Earth.
If you have any questions about your nutrition, please reach out to Dr. Cugliari directly.
Do you have a tip or topic you'd like us to discuss? Please email us to let us know!