Ugh!! The waiting….

I picked up a little bug that was going around that included a lovely flu symptom for a couple of days and now what seems to be a continuous cough that seems to just goes on and on. I’m taking classical voice at the Music Conservatory and just discussing this with my teacher. She has told me that I shouldn’t sing and it could be a while before I can let it rip again. All this has made me acutely aware of what it is like when I tell a client that they need to back off for a while when they have an injury. Many times, the client responds with “I was hoping you wouldn’t say that”. But I think it is like any goal that you are working towards. You need to keep visualizing where it is that you want to be and the transition steps that you need to make to get there.  For me, I need to do lots of things like drinking lots of fluids and really listen to my voice and make sure that I’m not overdoing it. Patience is the biggie though.When  a runner, for example,  has a moderate injury that may allow them to remain active (but not running), I will advise them to walk for the same amount of time that they normally run. Do not walk through the pain. During the transition, they re-integrate running. So maybe walk for 1 hour, then walk 55 minutes with 5 minutes run, then slow transition until they are back to running. This allows the person to remain active but also allows the body to heal itself properly and avoids re-injuring the area (making their return to activity even more lengthly).  This is true with any activity and injury that can occur.  

The benefits of cool down

From my own personal experience, when doing a strenuous bike ride, I have made it a habit to spend at least 10 minutes post activity to spend cooling down. I think that 5 minutes cool down per 1 hour activity is a good baseline. When I am biking, I will go into a much easier gear and do high rep’s for that amount of time. A runner may find it beneficial to walk for 5 minutes or so after an hour of running. This is beneficial in helping the body to rid itself of any metabolic waste from the muscles, therefore helping to reduce or eliminate DOMS (or delay onset muscle soreness). I would prefer doing this over stretching after an activity. This is especially important when starting or working towards a goal with an activity.  So, if you are experiencing discomfort or muscle pain post activity, give this a try. Remember to stay hydrated as well up to 6 hours post activity. 

Computer positioning and reducing neck strain

Very often I have clients that come in complaining of neck muscle strain and very often they are in a job or have a hobby that involves sitting in front of a computer. As part of my home care, I help the client to re-establish a good position for the shoulders an proper balancing of the head on the neck. Once you properly position the shoulders and the head, if you work with a computer, then you need to adjust the position of the monitor and the keyboard so that you can maintain your shoulder/head position. A good rule of thumb is to have the keyboard pretty much near your belly button (so that your shoulders are back and in a good position) and have the monitor usually about 1 or 1 1/2 feet away from you with the bottom of the screen at eye level. This is easier if you have a flat screen. The reason that the screen is so close to you is that often the resolution is so high, it makes the print very small, leading you to lean forward to read the font (another option is to make the print bigger on the screen). Using a glare protector is helpful to reduce eye strain. Also the screen is so high because when your head is balanced, you are actually looking up about 10 degrees from the horizon. This is because the front of the head is heavier than the back, so it needs to be tilted back a touch to be properly balanced. So there are some thoughts about keyboard and monitor position. It is always good to adapt your environment to you so you don’t have to adapt yourself to your environment (which will cause chronic muscles strain, pain and headaches. 

Shoulder Position and Rotator Cuff Strain

I am a huge advocate of the importance of having the shoulders in a neutral position to reduce things like joint impingement, nerve impingement, muscle fatigue and pain, reduced range of motion to name a few. I wanted to talk about muscle fatigue today. Like other joints in the body, the shoulder joint (or Glenohumeral Joint) has a capsule that surrounds it. The very top of the capsule is thickened and supports the arm bone as it hangs down. If the shoulder is rolled forward at all, the stress of the arm pulling downward is then transferred to the rotator cuff muscles. As rolling forward the shoulder also stretches and weakens these muscles, they will go become fatigued over long term and go into chronic spasm.  The rotator cuff muscles are responsible to control joint movement while the arms moves around, so arm movement will also be affected.So to make a long story short, neutral shoulder positioning is important to take the strain off the rotator cuff muscles that have their own job to do during the movement of the shoulder joint. Don’t let your shoulders fall forward   

Got me a Sit Disc

I have clients that have low back issues and very often, they are sitting for long periods of time during the day. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of sitting on stationary surface for long periods of time. I recommend using the big exercise balls (which I use in my clinic room as much as possible), but sometimes that isn’t possible as they are very bulky and sometimes not very appealing in a business atmosphere. So what does a guy or girl do in this situation? You can use the balance disc to sit on. It’s a flat disc that is often used for standing on to improve balance in rehab. Anyhoo, you can sit on it too. The best thing about the disc is that you can sit on it and continuously keep your back moving. It also helps to reduce the compression forces around your low back and pelvis. This is a really good thing. Locally, in Victoria, you can pick up this product from Sports Traders or Aloyd Fitness. If you get a disc, make sure that there isn’t too much air in the disc. Keep it fairly deflated, but not so much that you feel the surface of what you are sitting on. Clients have mentioned that they use this product in all sorts of different places like at the movies, theaters, sports events, meetings. So pick one up, try it out. They’re really portable, inexpensive and good for the old back.