Why Body Movement Is Important, Especially When Working From Home
Sedentary lifestyle has emerged as an issue of grave concern where today’s youth are concerned. While it seems a perfect fit for now, in the long run, it will harm the body seriously.
In the last couple of years, as the office desk moved to the comfort of the bed, it brought along extended sitting hours slouched in one place with no movement whatsoever. Though this was precipitated by the lockdown, it was the corporate work culture coupled with a sedentary lifestyle that pushed people to remain ensconced in their comfort zones - literally. Sedentary behaviour is defined as indulging in activities which require little to no energy expenditure above the resting level, such as sitting, sleeping or watching television.
There has been a drastic change in the lifestyle from the time when children and adults alike would step out of their homes in the evening for walks or play. In the current scenario, the free time has boiled down to clicks and sliding through the touch screens.
Doctors and experts are now warning us of the possible outcomes if this lifestyle is not altered at the earliest. “During and after lockdown, people have gotten into jobs that involve longer sitting hours which gives them neck and back pain. This happens solely when people adapt to ‘comfort posture’, which is not always good,” says Dr. Ashlesha Shriwadkar, Senior Physiotherapist, INHS Asvini, Mumbai.
Though a comfortable posture will keep the body relaxed, it is not good for the body at any cost. The physiotherapist explains that since the natural shape and structure of the spine is curved it needs to be maintained at all costs. Any change in the natural form or the body’s natural body posture results in muscle and back problems.
“When sitting the legs, hands and back should be positioned in such a way that not much pressure is exerted on the spine. Initially, when one adapts to postures that are comfort-oriented and not suitable for the spine and muscles, the body will show no sign of discomfort because the muscles are strong. So much so, that the body and the muscles can take any amount of pressure exerted on them,” she informs.
But she adds, “Over a period of time, the muscle power starts to weaken. Eventually, the muscles get into spasm mode. Then due to excess pressure of the incorrect posture, the body starts to experience degenerative changes, which in medical language is termed as Early Degenerative Changes.”
The degeneration takes place mainly due to age-related wear-and-tear on the spinal disc, which is further accentuated by injury, genetic predisposition, and majorly due to lifestyle factors. According to the physiotherapist, in recent times the signs of early degenerative changes have frequently been noted amongst young people aged between 20-30. “They are quite young to be acquiring degenerative changes. Such changes in the body are usually witnessed in people above the age of 45,” rues the physiotherapist.
Identifying The Causes And Moving Toward Change
Dr. Shriwadkar lays out the reasons for spasms and degeneration in the body and explains that it is all because people do not exercise. But the major reason is the wrong posture - wherein people slouch the whole day. Being seated in one place for long hours without any backrest becomes the cause of pain.
“First, relax your body and remove any pressure from the muscles. The longer you put pressure on the muscles the more spasms you will experience. It is simply because the muscle is now tired of taking the pressure of the inaccurate posture,” she shares.
As per the physiotherapist, one has to start listening to the body, as it is the most accurate medium when it comes to sending signals to the brain. It tells you that it has had enough. But more often than not, one doesn’t understand these signals or the fact that the body has been pressured into non-movement. “We need to take breaks in between, not sit continuously in front of the laptop or read for long hours. Take frequent breaks and do something as basic as a neck movement - up and down, left and right, clockwise and anticlockwise. Even doing this is enough as it will give a great stretch to the muscles and relax them. There is only much you can make a human body do. And if you give it rest it will work more efficiently afterwards,” appeals Dr. Shriwadkar.
The Various Do’s And Don’ts
Dr. Shriwadkar spells out the most basic movements, which are necessary and can be done in the comfort of our homes.
If sitting for too long, take a break for water after every 30 minutes.
If one is too engrossed in the work, doing some basic leg movements also helps. Lifting the leg stretches the muscles, and holding the posture for a few minutes strengthens leg muscles.
A few back stretches can be performed while sitting on the chair, such as the sitting version of the cat and cow yoga pose. Keeping the spine straight, curve the back, push it outward, followed by slowly pushing the chest out.
Stand in front of the mirror and correct your posture. Or else stand straight against the wall and check if the head is touching against the wall, and the shoulders are round or straight in a line. If not, then work on it.
Walk Is Not Enough, Stretching And Strengthening Of Muscles Is Also Needed
Dr. Shriwadkar emphasises that besides stretching the muscles, it is equally important to stretch every joint of the body. “People say they go for a walk every day, but that is not exercise. That is just opening up the body and doesn’t involve any particular muscles being stretched. One has to pay attention to each and every muscle. Stretching and strengthening are important. First, stretch and then strengthen the muscles. Regular movement of the joints helps in avoiding any stiffness and degenerative changes,” avers the physiotherapist.
Yoga is the best remedy for body movement because it stretches every muscle and part of the body.
With these simple and mindful techniques, you will no longer experience morning stiffness or prolonged lethargy. It is necessary that one takes their body more seriously and develops healthy habits, as they will be beneficial in the long run.
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