October Wellness: Musculoskeletal Health

Mobility, a tool for injury prevention

People from all walks of life often overlook the importance of mobility. Mobility is how well you walk or move. It is important for both physically active workers and deskbound workers to pay attention to tight joints. Your concerns are unique to the type of daily movement you are used to. Someone who is on their feet all day may have different concerns than someone who works at a desk or in a factory.

Musculoskeletal professionals are available to help you with aches and pains. They can assess your movement to help identify issues. They will be able to provide a custom set of exercises you can practice every day. These exercises are designed to help improve your overall joint mobility. The examples below are common movements that can improve hip mobility and core strength.

Check with your healthcare provider before beginning a new exercise routine. Remember to complete the movements in a slow and controlled manner. Each movement should be done for at least 60 seconds. You can do it in sets of 10-30 seconds at a time or all at once. A mild discomfort while stretching is normal. Sharp or intense pain should be avoided.

Source: ACSM.org, NIH.gov, Healthwise.org

How to prevent aches and pains while on the clock

Whether you are on your feet all day or spend most of your time at a desk, it is important
to have a work environment that promotes musculoskeletal wellness. Musculoskeletal wellness focuses on the way your movement impacts your muscles, nerves, blood vessels, ligaments, and tendons.

For example, awkward body postures or performing the same or similar tasks repetitively at work can lead to poor posture or injuries. A large portion of the American workforce sits
for over 4 to 6 hours a day. This may lead to low back pain and posture issues. Those who work from home should also have a comfortable workspace and practice good habits to prevent injuries. It can be easy to set up shop anywhere in the house. The way you sit or type can cause your posture to suffer and lead to aches and pains.

Prolonged sitting paired with poor posture can lead to muscular imbalances. It causes low back pain, neck pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and headaches. It seems like it is comfy to slouch — maybe even lean back and swivel a bit. But this posture is harmful. Try this instead: Sit all the way back in your chair. Place a small, rolled-up towel or lumbar cushion behind your mid-back to protect your spine’s natural curve. Bend your knees at a right angle and keep them the same height, or a bit higher than your hips. Place your feet flat on the floor.

While it is important to focus on how you sit, one of the best things you can do throughout the day is to get up and move. Movement gives your body a chance to get out of the same position. Try to stand or move 5-15 minutes each hour. Simply standing up and shifting or lifting your legs up and down can go a long way.

Posture is key, even when you are standing. Try to remember the following cues while you stand: feet forward and parallel, legs hip-width apart, hips neutral, and head looking forward. Ask yourself how you your body feels or how your posture feels when you stand. You might become aware of the footwear you have on as you pay attention to your body. Shoes with a minimal heel lift and a wide toe box are ideal. Shifting your weight back and forth is also a great way to activate muscles and fight against staying in one position while you stand.

If you are struggling with aches and pains, talk with your healthcare provider. Healthcare providers can assess your symptoms and help you receive the proper treatment and prevention options.

Source: ACSM.org

Sitting for long periods at a time can cause aches and pains, especially if you have poor posture. It’s best to take breaks and allow yourself to stretch and move. Try this 5-day movement challenge!

Feel a little tight? Try these stretches at your desk:

Watch this video to learn how to make your own weights at home.

Read this article for comfortable home office tips.

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