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 AuthorsPamela 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.