Are you noticing that you’re not as strong as you once were? Are you having difficulty doing things that up until a few years ago, you didn’t even have to think about? Or are you still as mobile as you always were, but are finding that nowadays you pay for it later?
If you’ve been out in the garden weeding and bending or pushed yourself a bit too hard when playing with your grandkids, you may find that pain and stiffness flair up the next day. This issue happens slowly over time as you age, and many people find that it sneaks up on them until one day, they just can’t move as effortlessly as they used to. This puts us at a huge risk of injury, especially when we don’t listen to our bodies.
As we age, the amount and size of the muscle fibres in our bodies reduces. A depletion of muscles fibres means we’re not as strong as we used to be, and therefore need to take more care when doing those jobs that could cause us to strain a muscle. Jobs that were once easy can now seem daunting. The good news is that with a bit of hard work, you can completely slow this process and start to improve your strength!
Resistance training! The current Australian guidelines based on the World Health Organisation recommend that adults over the age of 50 should participate in moderate intensity progressive resistance training 2 or more days a week.
But first, what is resistance training? It centres around lifting weights or performing exercises that utilise your own body weight, such as squats, lunges or pushups. These types of exercises help to increase the size, number and strength of the muscle fibres in your body, which results in an overall increase of strength.
Moderate intensity means that the effort you put into doing these exercises should sit at about a 7-8 out of 10. The key is to make sure you don’t overdo it, and always listen to what your body is telling you. If you find this too intense, start off slowly at a lesser intensity (try about a 5-6 out of 10 intensity), and build up your stamina over several weeks.
If you’re unsure of where to start or would like some advice on what exercises are best suited to you, come and talk to our clinicians. We specialise in building personalised exercise programs that will get you back on track to feeling stronger. You can either give us a call, or book your appointment online.
Fit for the office: Posture
Good posture is vital in preventing neck pain and headaches. You may find yourself trying to get that extra bit of work done, by spending prolonged periods of time sitting at the computer or slumped on your bed with the laptop. Then the neck pain starts. There’s no exact moment of trauma to blame, but slowly the pain begins to expand to your shoulders and before you know it, the headaches begin.
There are many steps that can be taken to help the situation and prevent pain from returning. Posture is everything.
1. Be aware of your sitting posture. Make sure you are not slumping, and the computer screen is at eye level. If it is lower, it forces you to look down and can strain the muscles at the back of the neck and shoulders.
2. Sit upright by lifting your sternum and relaxing your shoulders. Turn your head from side to side a few times every 30 minutes to reduce stiffness.
3. Try to avoid sitting for too long. Take breaks and walk regularly – try to move at least every 30 minutes.
4. When you are on a break, try the wall angel exercise. Find a wall, stand up against it with your back and head touching it and your feet up to 10 cm away from the wall. With your arms starting by your sides, take both arms out straight in front of you and reach overhead to touch the wall. Return to the starting position by bringing your arms back to your sides.
Hope this helps,
Last week we touched on ways to help you move more at work and why you need to. This week, we look further into the importance of moving regularly.
The postural and stabilizing muscles of the body can become painful when held in elongated and end-of-range positions. Muscles are strongest, and work optimally, in mid-range positions. For instance, when a worker continually reaches forward or leans forward to complete a task, the upper or lower back muscles and shoulders are placed in elongated positions for prolonged periods. Muscles are at their weakest and most vulnerable point when they’re working at the stretched out, end-of-range position. They fatigue over time, become painful, and can then fail to do their job of stabilising. This significantly increases a worker’s risk of injury.
Regularly changing positions is critical in reducing your chance of injuring yourself both at work and home, whether it be bending over to weed your garden, or at work slumped in front of the computer. Rotating through different jobs and tasks at work throughout the day is an important and very easy way to regularly change the position of your body. This alters the load and force that you put on your muscles and helps them to work at different lengths and consequently, reducing the risk of injury.
Hope this helps,
It is well known that work tasks involving prolonged static positions, such as sitting at the computer or standing for long periods, can lead to increased risk of injuries. The issue is the sedentary and static nature of the tasks. When muscles are asked to do repetitive and small movements for many hours without interruption, the blood flow through the muscles becomes sluggish, which increases the risk of injury or inflammation, as well as increasing the perception of pain.
Moving the major muscle groups and increasing the rate of blood flow through the body helps to negate any problems related to repetitive tasks and static positions. By maintaining muscle activity, you can reduce heightened pain perception, improve concentration – which assists with increasing productivity – and therefore lower the rate of mistakes made by workers completing repetitive tasks.
For maximum benefit, your heart rate should increase, and your major muscle groups should be moved regularly every 30 minutes.
Some tips to get you moving at work include:
* Climb the stairs rather than using the elevator
* Take a brisk walk to talk to a colleague up the corridor rather than email
* Run on the spot for 30 seconds
* Place the waste paper bin at the end of the room so you must hop up to get to it
* Alternate between a standing desk and sitting desk.
Hope this is helpful,
There are very few parts of your body that act in isolation to another part. This particularly applies to the shoulders and arms, which can impact the functionality of the neck and vice versa. Shoulder weakness can, and often does, lead to elbow and neck problems so keeping your shoulders and arms strong will help to keep you functioning well.
People who have weaker arms and shoulders are far more likely to injure their necks when lifting heavy items, or by repeatedly reaching overhead or lifting items such as shopping bags and luggage.
When lifting something that is too heavy, your head will often come forward to compensate and this is more likely if your upper spine is stiff. This can injure the neck by putting the shoulder muscles in a lengthened position and therefore make them vulnerable and more susceptible to injury.
Strengthening your upper body will help to protect your neck; however, there are other important things you can do to prevent potential injury:
1. When exercising your arms and shoulders, make sure you keep your neck in good alignment. Keep your chin slightly tucked in and your neck long.
2. Strong arms and shoulders will take the pressure off your neck. Build up your arm and shoulder strength gradually by keeping the load low to start with and slowly increasing repetitions.
3. Breathe evenly as you are exercising and try not to hold your breath.
Hope these tips have helped!
Over the last 4 weeks, we have looked at areas to work on to help make your time with your grandchildren more enjoyable. These things include improving muscle strength, balance, getting on and off the floor, and safe ways to lift and bend.
1. Remaining strong (or becoming stronger) is important to help your body cope with the physical demands of being around grandchildren. Focusing on shoulder, back and leg strength will help. Start with a few daily strengthening exercises targeting those areas specifically. Here are some more exercises that might help:
– Wall push-ups:
Stand up straight facing a wall. Take a step back and place the palms of your hands on the wall at shoulder height and slightly wider than your shoulders. Bend your elbows, taking your chest towards the wall. Keep your body in a straight line and tighten your buttocks and abdominals. Return to the starting position by straightening your elbows, lifting your chest away from the wall. Repeat this x10.
– Sit to stand:
Start seated in a chair with your feet flat on the floor. Bring your buttocks to the edge of the chair with your feet underneath you. Bend forward at the hips and stand up until you are completely upright. Lift your chest and tighten your buttocks. Sit down slowly, bending at the hips and knees, and controlling the movement. Try to do this exercise without using your hands or with as little use of your hands as you can do comfortably.
2. If you haven’t been on the floor for a while, practice getting up and down. Make sure there is someone around and a chair close by to help with getting up again which is the most challenging part.
3. Keeping good balance is also important when dealing with growing young children. Try doing some balance exercises. To get you started here are a few examples along with those from last week:
– Stand upright and straight with your feet very close together.
– Then, try closing your eyes.
– Try walking on undulating ground.
4. Lifting children can be problematic for the back, shoulders and neck. Keep your back straight and try to bend from the hips and knees. Each time you go to pick up a heavy object, brace around your abdomen to help protect the back.
I hope you have found this series helpful.
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