Written by Deborah VanderKruk, RMT
Diversify. It’s usually a term that comes up in conversations about our financial investing. But I want to apply it to our daily movement patterns. Think about the movements you do, day in and day out.
Our bodies get comfortable with certain postures, gait patterns and asymmetries due to the demands of our lives.
If someone posted a shot of your work posture on Instagram, what would that look like? Ugh.
In my work, for example, I spend most of my time standing, knees slightly bent, twisted to the left, arms reaching forward, head down. I’d like to say I look like an RMT in a modified warrior position, centred and strong. But by the end of the day, I’m far from it. I’m really setting myself up for rotator cuff injuries, headaches and swollen ankles.
How do I make sure my work pattern doesn’t stick and become my default profile? How can I prevent my shoulders and head from drifting forward?
The short answer is: do the opposite. Sure, a regular yoga, pilates, walking, martial arts routine would undo most of our repetitive movement. More simply, however, we can be mindful to move in other ways than we do for most of the day. For me, I need to spend time opening my chest, shoulders and arms, engaging my back body, extending my head and neck up and back, elevating my feet and doing deep twists to the right. Basically, it’s about diversifying my movement.
So, how can you change up your movement? First, take some inventory. Then, flip it! Take a look at the possible scenarios below. If you don’t fit into any, you may get some ideas. This practice is meant to be simple and practical. Try making small changes when you wake up, eat lunch, drive, play a sport, hold your children, walk your dog, cook dinner or scroll on your phone.
Texting pro: overuse of thumb, head/neck tilted down and forward, squinted eyes
Put your phone down! Open and close your hands as far as possible, stretched each finger back individually, bring head up and gently back, circle your arms backwards for 60 seconds. Close eyes, keep them as soft as possible.
Commuter/Desk Job: shoulders internally rotated from mouse/steering wheel, hip and knee flexion while sitting, clenched jaw
Move whenever you can! Do arm snow angels against the wall. Bring knee to chest, standing. Make circles with your knee to open up hips. Repeat on other side. Open and close your mouth as wide as you can.
Parent: shoulders elevated/internally rotated, one sided hip/back tension from carrying child on one side
Roll up a bath towel, lie down on a flat surface with towel vertically under spine, head supported with small cushion. Breathe deeply. Bring knees to chest and then let them fall to one side of your body. Hold for 30-60 sec. Repeat on other side.
Teacher: tight lower limbs from standing, fatigued low back, tight arms and hands
Lie down close to a chair. Elevate feet on chair, knees bent to 90 degrees. Rest here for a bit. Place hands on lower abdomen and breathe. Stretch arms straight out in front of you. Lock elbows, pull fingers back in a stretch and then into a fist. Continue by bringing arms out in a T formation . Repeat hand movements.
Try to incorporate new micro movements into your day. Your body will thank you and fewer injuries will creep up. If you have any questions, get some feedback from your massage therapist or osteopath at your next visit. They can give you a postural assessment or discuss ways to inject new movement into your life.