Tuesday, 24 March 2015

I NEED to move it, move it!

Last session, we mentioned our bodies need movement— lots of it. How can we incorporate this into our lives?

Think back to the bad old days where elderly or sick people were left in bed all day long. They become very stiff and their joints became deformed from lack of movement. This is extreme, but simply moving around each day prevents this.

Every time we change position, not only do joints move, but the soft tissues around them – nerves, blood vessels, tendons, joint capsule, fascia and skin. When we move a joint through its full range, we move these surrounding tissues through this range too. Of course, some structures need more stretching than everyday movement to maintain a good length, like hamstring muscles.

Active people and children maintain good range of movement because they use a variety of positions and change position frequently. Think about how children ‘sit’: cross-legged, then lie on their tummies, then fidget, then roll over, then sprawl etc. We use fewer positions as adults – often dictated by our work, public appearance (could you sprawl on the floor at meetings?!) and lifestyle, and we stiffen up as a result. Mostly, we sit.

Technology enforces sitting in ‘fixed’ upper-body positions to maintain good posture (think about static head, shoulders and arm positions).

Compare this to writing (yes, actual writing!) at a desk, which allows far more movement than any desk-based e-gadget.

We need to take a few lessons from the constant activity of restless people.

So, how can we add movement? Here are some ideas to get us started:

  • Move every 30 minutes. Every 30 minutes. Plan a task – wipe the kitchen benches, make a cuppa, check the mail box etc. Cleaning – rub and scrub to get the arm joints moving.
  • Move into postures that are the opposite of sitting at a computer: stretch your shoulders, back and legs by dusting the tops of the doorways, hanging out the washing, pruning some high shrubs, play tennis. Do some low activities (kneel, squat) to bend your knees.
  • Put the printer at the far end of the house and dance/lunge/skip up the hall.
  • Write a draft using pen and paper (remember them?) and transfer to computer later.
  • Proof read using a paper copy – lie down, walk around, sit in an arm chair with a headrest.
  • Exercise 5 days each week – particularly activities that move your joints through a range: stretches, swimming, aerobics, Pilates, Boxercise, Swiss ball exercises etc (click here for more ideas). The important thing is to be moving through a wide range of movements and taking joints and muscles to their end range (without pain).
  • Free arm weights have been shown to have a significant effect on reducing low back pain.

Don’t go straight into heavy activity without warming up.

As a writer, adding movement into our day is one of the most important decisions we’ll ever make to help prevent injury. So keep active and join us for our next blog where we’ll explore more ways to keep pains from restricting our writing gains!

About the Authors

Pamela Heemskerk has worked as a physiotherapist for over 25 years and has seen firsthand the impact of relatively recent, recognised pain syndromes associated with prolonged use of technology – occurring even in young people. She has undertaken further training in the field of education and is also passionate about educating the community in the effects of hearing loss. She is a keen artist, working primarily with watercolours, and has had numerous short works published.






Adele Jones is the wife of a rehabilitated repetitive strain casualty and has been active in organisational work health and safety roles. Having witnessed the consequences of ergonomic neglect, she is an advocate of sound ergonomic practices. She writes a variety of short works, YA novels (http://rhizapress.com.au/integrate) and historical fiction (http://www.roseandcrownbooks.com). Her writing is inspired by a passion for family, faith, friends, music and science – and her broad ranging imagination. To find out more visit www.adelejonesauthor.com.

26 comments:

  1. Having had to undergo a back operation last year, I endorse all your comments above, Pamela and Adele! Now I keep a timer on my desk and set it to remind me at least to stand up and stretch every twenty minutes--and it's amazing how quickly those twenty minutes pass. We also decided to keep our printer in my husband's study so I would have to get up to walk to it, just as you suggest.

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    1. A back operation's a significant procedure to recover from. So great to hear you're being proactive with sustaining your recovery, Jo-Anne. A timer is a great idea. A little way into his rehab, I remember nagging ... er ... encouraging ;-) my husband to set a timer on the computer, for it could be all too easy to forget that even when the injury was improving, just a little neglect would have a big impact on pain levels. I think the biggest error we all make is believing these sorts of injuries won't happen to us. Prevention is the best cure of all.

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    2. Great idea using a timer, Jo-Anne! it is all too easy to get engrossed. After any surgery or broken bone - 12 months is the recovery time, really, despite saying you'll be healed in 3 months, 6 months. Healed up, yes, but not back to full strength or flexibility. And there will still be some slight on-going improvement after this for most of us. Well done for looking after yourself!

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  2. Thanks for those tips. Since I've been working at home, I probably don't move enough during the day. At work I was always getting up to go to the photocopy room or the staff room (or just to chat to someone), but it's easy to sit at my desk for an hour or more at a time without moving. Fortunately the printer is in Tim's office, so I'll start skipping down there. Maybe we could even add a Prancercise session :)

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    1. You're right, Nola, it's all too easy to to get sedentary. My work changed last year but led to me being more active, which was a positive. Within a short period of time I noticed a reduction in aches and pains. Prancercise ... well, there's an idea ... Once you've worked out your routine and have your lycra ready, give me a call. ;-)

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    2. Oh Adele - You should know by now that it's dangerous to throw me a challenge. You're on ;)

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    3. Prancercise ... half of me wants to see the video, and the other half? Just no.

      Now, please excuse me while I exercise some joints by doing housework. (Oh no! A reason to do housework!).

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    4. Housework and prancercise. What a combination, Iola! LOL! So long as you're moving. ;-)

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    5. Iola just for you, here's the link to the Prancercise video. I know you'll thank me :) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o-50GjySwew

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    6. Adele and I will run Prancercise for Beginners at Queens Park on Monday nights from ..er..2am - 3am? Ok with you Adele?
      And housework? Ever wondered why women outlive men? They get more exercise!!

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    7. Great! See you in the park next Monday :)

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  3. I have found since walking daily I feel better. im not a writer but do live with chronic pain and currently have tennis elbow which I don't recommend to anyone. Im not a writer but it does apply to others also.

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    1. It sure does, Jenny. We can all benefit from increased activity. No, I wouldn't recommend tennis elbow either. :)

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    2. Hi Jenny. No, tennis elbow is no fun at all! Esp when you are playing tennis! Good on you for staying active - it make such a difference to general well-being.

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  4. Thanks Pamela and Adele. Definitely something I need to keep in mind - moving more often & incorporating exercise into my life :)

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    1. It's all too easy to get caught up in our 'doings' and let the hours pass without moving. Jo-Anne has the right idea setting a 'move now' timer.

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  5. Great post Adele and Pamela. Thanks for the reminder. I definitely need to keep it in mind - sitting at the computer is something I love to do. But ouch... my body does need movement doesn't it? Thank you ladies. :)

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    1. Even knowing the importance of moving I can still find myself getting caught up in the writing moment, too, Anusha. Getting up to find myself stiff and sore isn't the best reminder. We all need to remember to move it! :)

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  6. Thanks for the reminder, but now I've got that song stuck in my brain!

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    1. Lynne likes to move it, move it ... :p

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    2. I have a Santa that likes to move it move it!

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  7. Thanks Adele and Pamela for this very informative post. It is something I'm becoming increasingly conscious of. What are your thoughts on the "standing table" concept that is now beginning to get traction in certain circles, even in Corporate offices?

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    1. Standing desks sound like a good idea generally, but I think like anything needs to be assessed on an individual basis for suitability. (There was a time when I was recovering from injury and couldn't stand for extended periods.) I know of organisations where whole areas have converted to standing desks. It will be interesting to see what benefits are identified long-term.

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    2. I'm with Adele - it will be a while before we see the effects of this. And physios and GPs will be at the frontline here when the first people come in reporting any symptoms. Long-term standers (e.g. shop assistants) have been shown to have various health issues related to that - varicose veins, for one. It's the contraction of the muscles in our legs when we move that enhances the venous return - i.e. keeps the blood moving and prevents swelling. It's a great idea, but like anything - it will probably prove to be better in moderation. For myself, I would switch between the two - this allows different parts of the body to take the strain at different times and in different positions.

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  8. Excellent post, ladies. Thanks for sharing your helpful tips :)

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