We are currently all doing our part individually to protect the Australian healthcare system from the COVID-19 pandemic by staying home. Whether it be working from home or taking school or University classes from home, you may realise that now more than ever we are reliant on using our computers, laptops, phones, handheld devices, etc. to fulfill our day to day tasks. They have quickly become our access to work, school, friends, family and leisure activities as we all isolate in our homes.
Though some of us may be required to sit behind a computer screen for hours on end to meet the requirements of day to day life, our bodies unfortunately are not made for sitting all day long. Our bodies are made to move, and in fact work more effectively when we are moving. From the cardiovascular system, to our muscles, everything tends to work better when we are on the move(1).
What are some of the signs that you may be sitting too much? Well, for a lot of people it will begin in the neck. Although we may think our posture is picture perfect, we tend to find that the longer an individual is stationary in the one position, be it sitting or standing, they become more prone to slouching, etc. which begins to change the curvature in our spine(2).
With changes to the curvature of the separate sections of the spine, individual muscles become overworked and deconditioned. As such, we may begin to experience pain or discomfort where those changes are occurring.
Our bodies are truly unbelievable things. However, we do have to help keep them in their prime condition otherwise we will have a price to pay. For example, if we do things that cause a disruption in the curvature of the spine, our bodies will not resolve that issue for us. We have to be the ones to stretch out the overworked muscle groups, and recondition the underused muscles in order to correct our wrong doings.
So, in a time where we are made to live a life where we have to use technology more, which is generally associated with longer times spent sitting in front of a desk, we have to be active in taking care of our bodies.
Below this post, you will find a list of stretching activities suitable for adults and children. We highly encourage stretching at least once daily for a total of 10 minutes, if not more if you can, to condition our bodies to be better prepared for the needs of day to day life. If you feel as though you simply cannot put away 10 minutes of your day to stretch, break it down. Do 1 minute of stretching, 10 times per day and you will make up that 10 minute recommendation. Split it into two groups of 5 minute intervals. Do 5 minutes in the morning, and 5 minutes of an evening. Do whatever you need to do in order to fit this 10 minutes into your routine because your body will thank you for it down the line.
Disclaimer: If you have any pre-existing medical conditions, injuries, etc. please consult with a medical professional prior to implementing these stretching routines. As much as we would love to see a more active population, we need to ensure that everybody is safe to perform these exercises. If you experience any symptoms during or after implementing this routine, please cease the routine and consult a medical professional as soon as possible.
Example Stretching Routine:
- Cervical flexion stretch
- Cervical extension stretch
- Upper Trapezius stretch
- Shoulder stretch
- Wrist flexion / extension stretch
- Seated lower back stretch*
- Seated glute stretch*
- Hamstring stretchWatch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=19phza4JG1I
- The dangers of sitting: why sitting is the new smoking. (2020). Retrieved 16 April 2020, from https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/the-dangers-of-sitting
- The Dangers of Too Much Sitting And How it Harms The Body. (2020). Retrieved 16 April 2020, from https://healthmatters.nyp.org/is-too-much-sitting-harming-your-body/
Written by Emily – Accredited Exercise Physiologist, PsychPhys®