Monday, October 26, 2015

Are Your Daily Movements Helping or Hurting You?

Picture this...You reach for your alarm clock as another day begins. You roll yourself over and use your abdominal muscles (or momentum) to sit up at the edge of your bed. Up you go, thanks to your legs, down the hall to the bathroom, where you perform yet another duty of the day.  Then, you walk to the kitchen to prepare your first meal of the day, often standing and moving about the kitchen, bending down or lifting up onto your toes to reach for things in the fridge or cabinets.  Finally, you get to sit and enjoy your breakfast. 

Most of us don't think about how we are doing any of these activities (especially first thing in the morning...) let alone think about if we are doing them correctly or in ways that could be stressing out different muscles or body parts. And this is just the beginning of our day!  I haven't even begun to mention what we do with our bodies to get ourselves showered, dressed, and ready for our day, then take care of others to get them ready, get ourselves where we need to be each day, perform our tasks, eat, use the bathroom, do housework, yard work, socialize...The list goes on and on. We just go, go, go, and assume that our bodies will be along for the ride. It isn't until one of these daily activities becomes difficult or painful that we start to wonder what went wrong!?!

Think about all of the activities listed above and how much longer they would take if you had to rely on someone else to assist you through these activities. How would that make you feel? Leave it to the "muscle nerd" to think about these activities, and share with you some helpful information to make sure that your muscles are being respected and appreciated, and you can continue to perform these functions independently for as long as possible.

After working several years with clients suffering from advanced Knee Osteoarthritis, I have realized that getting up and down from a seated position can be very challenging for them. If this activity is not performed efficiently, it can actually add to the wear and tear already happening at the knee joint, as we all perform this activity many times per day.  I take the time to instruct my clients in the proper way to position themselves and use their body's weight and momentum to efficiently raise and lower themselves. Then, each time they do this, it becomes an exercise instead of another activity that may be slowly wearing down the joint surfaces and stressing the body. Like any other new activity, it takes some extra time to think through how to do this efficiently at first, but with practice, the efficient movement pattern becomes automatic. 

Would you like to be sure you are raising from and lowering to the sitting position appropriately? Here are the step by step instructions I teach my clients regularly, and they find it very simple to change their ways!

1. Be sure your  hips are at the edge of the sitting surface from which you are rising. 
2. Position your knees hip width apart, and place your feet directly under your knees with both feet pointing straight ahead. 
3. Hinge forward from your hips while keeping your spine straight until your nose goes over your toes. 
4. Use your buttocks muscles to bring your body into an upright standing position, allowing your knees to straighten last. 

Doesn't that sound simple? It gets even simpler when I say "Nose over toes, use your butt to come up!" You know PTs--we are always abbreviating everything, so why wouldn't I abbreviate these instructions too! :) 

You may be saying, "I already do it this way," and to that I say "BRAVO!!" I will likely NOT be seeing you for knee related issues anytime soon, and to that you may be saying "GOOD!" 

For those of you who feel you need to use your arms for support or to boost you up, you can place your hands on your thighs, the arm rest of the chair you are sitting on, or the bathroom counter. Just remember to let your buttocks be the main muscle working to get your body standing straight. 

If you like these helpful instructions and are wondering if you are performing your other daily activities with the most efficient biomechanics, you may be interested in attending my upcoming workshop entitled "Movement is Medicine".  In this active learning workshop we will be exploring how natural movement is a form of preventative medicine, and can also be a form of healing medicine for injured or stressed out muscles and joints. We will discuss and practice the proper technique for sitting, standing, walking, bending, lifting, raking, shoveling, carrying little loved ones, driving, and other daily activities.  It is my goal to be sure as many people as possible are practicing "preventative medicine" with their daily movements, and they will remain independent as long as possible!  For more information or to register, click:

Move Well!