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To adapt to the current global work-from-home experiment that we are facing, it's important to make some adjustments to your day-to-day routine to ensure that you remain healthy and happy. Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is one of the most important things to consider, you need to ensure that you are taking good care of yourself both mentally and physically.
We interviewed Gustavo, a physiotherapist from Spain about his recommendations when working from home and how you can incorporate mobility training into your daily routine to avoid aches and pains.
When clients come to my office to be treated, they start by explaining where the pain is and how exactly they are physically feeling. The most common statement that I hear from my clients day-to-day is "My back hurts, I am feeling extremely stiff."
To find the root of the problem, I ask them to explain what exactly they dot throughout the day and a typical response is: I wake up, have my breakfast, drive for 30 minutes to work, work for 8 hours sitting at a desk, then I drive back home for another 30 minutes and in the evening, I take care of my son, I rest for an hour or so on the couch, I have dinner and then go to sleep. The next day, the same routine.
So when you look at this closely, that's 10 hours sitting, 7 or 8 hours of sleep, which makes a total of 18 hours non-activity. Now, it's no wonder that you feel stiff and by having this kind of lifestyle it's inevitable that you were going to have back pain.
We, humans, are designed to move. We have been evolving for years and years, to adapt to our necessities, generations, and generations of prehistoric history used to run, walk, build, fight, hunt, and gather. We spend most of our daily lives trying to get the resources to survive, that is what our human body evolved to do. So if we taker a closer look at what we humans are evolved to do, and what we are doing - it's a disaster.
We should not be doing the same tasks for 8 hours per day for 35 or 40 years, this is likely to lead to potential pathologies and wrong adaptations.
By living this kind of lifestyle, we are suffering dehumanization by ignoring what our body is capable of and what we should be doing with it. For example, If I can't get into a deep squat position, can't get your elbow above your head or you can't even bend to get something on the floor without feeling, cramps, stiffness or even pain, it's more than likely that you are not using your body the way that you should be as a human.
As a physiotherapist, I work with a particular method, or way of thinking that is called Functional Range Conditioning, developed by Dr. Andreo Spina, in Canada. It uses movement to preserve the normal function of a joint and it's an appropriate range of motion to prevent potential injuries or pathologies. I will share some of the fundamentals of this method with you:
It is the capacity of a joint to get into a position actively. It is different from flexibility, but lets me be clear - flexibility is not the same as mobility. We need the flexibility to have that mobility, but sometimes, people are flexible, but not mobile, so if we want to work our mobility, we need to use our musculoskeletal system and our nervous system.
So the main point of this system is to preserve our ranges of motion, to be able to get into the positions actively, keep the joints able to generate movement freely for maintaining our body away from pains and pathologies.
The first step in FRC is CAR´s (controlled articular rotations), these are some specific movements for each joint that we will use to expand our ranges of motion. This will stimulate our joint capsule, creating a bit more space in our joints, and improving the tissues of our joints. They are simple once we have learned, but in the beginning, they are a bit tricky. Working on our cars we must:
Actively stabilize the joints we are not working on by creating a global tension in the body, called irradiation.
Create tension in our body by placing your hands on your chest and moving your cervical spine. Take your chin to the chest, then rotate to the right side until you reach your right shoulder, take your ear next to your right shoulder and slowly start to get the chin up and rotating to the left side, trying to reach your left shoulder, get the chin back to the chest and repeat to the other side.
- Hug yourself and get some tension on the rest of the body, bend your trunk forward without moving your pelvis, rotate to the right side, get your shoulder close to your hip, and slowly try to get your chest and elbows up rotating to the other side, then get your elbows back to the front. repeat to the other side.
- We will work on 4 different movements here: up, down, protraction and retraction. You can divide de full car, practicing the different movements as I demonstrate in the following video:
One of the hard ones, the arm that is not working it is placed at our side making a fist and getting some tension, same happens in our belly glutes and quads to prevent any compensation, we just want to move our shoulder. Straight arm, rotate your shoulder taking for hand palm pointing forward, slowly take your shoulder up as much as you can without increasing your lumbar curve, once you reach the maximum flexion of the shoulder, rotate internally taking the palm of your hand pointing out, slowly try to get the arm back and down, increasing the internal rotation as much as you can. REST ( your hand should be next to your hip, and the palm pointing out). We are going back now, get your arm back and up, slightly rotating your shoulder pointing down with the palm of your hand up until getting our arm over the head, and get it down to the front.
If we work from home, we spend a lot of hours sitting, so our pelvis and lower back are not getting any movement. This is not a Car but we will induce movement in that area. Get on the floor, your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips into a four spots position (gata).
We have two positions, COW or global spine extension, and CAT or global spine flexion. We will be moving from one position to the other one, the tricky part is that we should try to move one vertebra at a time, we have to try to move them individually like is shown in the video. Do not get frustrated, this is not going to be easy, take some time and be patient.
It's extremely important to take care of our bodies, especially during this period of lockdown. We need to be more aware of how we are treating our bodies. As Gustavo mentioned, we were not designed to sit down all day for most of our lives, so do your best, particularly while you are working from home to incorporate some mobility training into your routine and hopefully, before you know it, you will feel the results.