The Unexpected Benefits of Exercise

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If exercise were put into tablet form, everyone would be prescribed one every day.

By having the equivalent of five sessions of 30 minutes moderate walking per week you would received massive health benefits.

The good news is, you don’t need to take a tablet, just the moderate exercise.

The Benefits

So, in addition to the well documented benefits of exercise, such as improved cardiovascular health and weight reduction, there are also important benefits for how our brain functions.

Stress Reduction

Exercise releases natural stress reducers in the brain. So, if you’re feeling tense take one of your 30-minute exercises doses, allowing your body to release norepinephrine which will moderate your brain’s response to stress.

Be Happy

Once again, your brain contains all the medication you need to make you feel happier. Exercise stimulates the release of endorphins. By exercising regularly, you’ll build up levels of this substance in your body.

Improve Self-confidence

Exercise improves how you feel about yourself. Again, this is due to exercise stimulating the limbic centre in your brain where memories and perceptions are modified.

Fresh Air

There’s more oxygen in the great outdoors. The outdoors further increases our self esteem.

Slow Down Cognitive Decline

Aging kills off brain cells. Exercise can and will help slow this process down. What are we waiting for!

Alleviate Anxiety

The brain’s natural medicine comes in handy again. When we exercise, chemicals that help calm you down are released into our bloodstream. These naturally occurring substances keep on working after exercise.

Boost the Brain

One 30-minute cardio session pumps extra blood to your brain, delivering the oxygen and nutrients it needs to perform at maximum efficiency. Cardio exercise also floods the brain with chemicals that enhance functions such as memory, problem solving, and decision making.

“Cardiovascular health is more important than any other single factor in preserving and improving learning and memory. You’re working out your brain at the same time as your heart.”

Thomas Crook, PhD, clinical psychologist and memory researcher.

Help Control

Short bursts of exercise can distract people from cravings, be that chocolate, smoking or whatever you crave.

Increase Relaxation

Exercise increases the body’s core temperature and when that temperature drops back to normal the body wants to sleep.

Be More Productive

Workers who exercise regularly are more productive. A perfect time for a walk could be lunch time. When you get back, you’ll be ready for action!

More Creative

All that extra blood circulation and nutrients going to the brain makes you more creative. So next time you need some ideas have a brisk walk first.

So, from now on…

  • Exercise straight from work, then you’ll sleep better.
  • If you’re meeting with just a couple of people, have the meeting whilst walking.
  • Need to be creative? Try a gym session before the think tank!

You get the idea. Just do it!

And you won’t be sorry.

 

 

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Invest in Your Workforce – They Deserve It

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Happy Business people 21195636_s

All companies have a corporate responsibility
to look after their staff
and prevent them from getting injured at work.

 
 
 
 
 

If companies provided medical insurance for their employees,
it would solve so many problems:

  • At a personal level
  • At a company level
  • And at a National Level

The Size of the Problem

To quote the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy from their report ‘How Healthy is the UK Workforce? Sickness Costs’:

‘In Great Britain, musculoskeletal disorders account for nearly a third of the total time taken off sick from work1, at an estimated cost of around £7.4 billion a year2. In addition, companies lose as much as £15 billion a year through ‘presenteeism’ when staff are at work but are not performing to their full potential because they are unwell.3

Nowadays, employers can get very good cost-effective health cover for as little as £1.00 a week per employee. This gives employees assurance that they can have access to treatment immediately should they start with a pain, so stopping it from becoming chronic and more difficult to treat. But also, it means that their suffering is reduced – and that can’t be a bad thing for a company.

Company Benefits

So, why don’t all companies provide this benefit?

If a member of staff asked for £5.00 extra a month would you deny them this tiny sum? Would you deny them this small extra amount if it meant that they felt that their employer cared about them?

Would you deny them this small amount if it meant…

• They said good things about you as an employer?
• It improved your staff retention?
• It increased your bottom line?
• It improved productivity?
• It created a happier working environment?

I know I’m biased, but even with such a simple health cover as £1 per week per employee, you can make a great deal of difference to people who need physiotherapy treatment.

Of course, the NHS is a wonderful mattress to fall back on if things go terribly wrong and I would be the first to go there. But this organisation is overworked, and employers, I think, should play their part helping take some of the pressure off by getting a professional local physiotherapist to come to them.

After all, many injuries and pains start at work, so where better place for this issue to be addressed by professionals?

All you need to do is get a physiotherapist to visit the place of work on a weekly or monthly basis and people can book themselves in for treatment. There would be no travel-time issues, and the benefits to the patient would be considerable.

If people are getting pain when just at work, which is what usually happens, then we can visit their workstation and find out what the root of the problem is. All physiotherapists are trained to do this. We understand ergonomics as part of our training. But, even more importantly, we understand how to advise the patient to treat and self-manage the injury.

Where to find Your Physiotherapist

At Positive Posture, we help employers by giving employees the relevant information and good practice advice so that they can prevent computer-related pain whilst at work. We do that either one-to-one or through inhouse workshops at your company – whatever works best.

I’m based in Hale Barns, so if your business is in the Manchester area, call me on 0161 980 5462.

Alternatively, just go to the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy’s website and with their PHYSIO2U you’ll find a chartered physiotherapist near you.

Everybody wins!

In the end, the whole country will benefit from employers bringing physiotherapists into the workplace. By treating niggling pains as soon as they crop up, we take pressure off the NHS, making more space for when you really need their vast expertise to deal with more serious problems.

So come on companies, do your bit. Get on board with health and wellbeing cover – and organise a physiotherapist to come to your company where your employees can book themselves in, onsite, and receive treatment under health care cover. Simple!

So who’s up for this? Want some more advice? Just give me a ring: 0161 980 5462


References
1 HSE 2008/09 www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/causdis/muscloskeletal/index.htm
2 Work Foundation www.workfoundation.co.uk/research/publications/fitforwork2007
3 Sainsbury’s Centre for Mental Health (2007) Mental health at work: developing the business case

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Find Your Own Good Standing Posture

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No matter what we’re doing, we’re in some kind of posture – stooping, leaning, sitting and, of course, standing. Have you ever wondered what your own Good Standing Posture is? If so, here’s the blog and video that will teach you how to find it. A lesson for life.

What is Standing Posture?

    • It’s when you’re standing!
    • It’s always comfortable.
    • Your standing posture is probably not textbook perfect and so can be improved.

There is a way to stand that is balanced and your centre of gravity falls through certain parts of your body. In this way, we stand efficiently and the deep postural muscles are working. These muscles support our joints and can work for long periods without fatigue. However, if we don’t stand in good posture, our centre of gravity falls through different parts of our body and different muscles must work to keep us there.

This is not so good because the muscles now working are not postural muscles and can fatigue.
This causes pain.

For example: Standing with your chin poking forwards

Now, this is something many of us do because we’re sat at a desk for hours, and that encourages the “Tortoise Posture”. When you stand like this, the muscles that must come into play to stop us from dropping our heads are the middle fibres of trapezius, and they run from the top of our shoulders to the base of our neck. This muscle can’t work for long periods and is a big source of pain for many people. So improving your posture will help reduce the activity of this muscle and thus you will get less pain.

To help improve your head and neck posture, you must be able to hold your head back a little so that your ear is in line with the middle of your shoulder when observed from the side. If you’ve stood with your head forwards for many years this will not happen quickly. You need to practice the Retraction Exercise which is on my previous blog. This will allow you to stretch the tight structures that are stopping you from holding a good head posture. You must do this about three times a day to have a gentle, effective stretch.

So, to find our good, pain-free standing posture this is what you do…

  • Stand with your back against a wall with heels 2cms away from the wall.
  • Your bottom, upper back, and if possible the back of your head should be resting on the wall. If your head won’t reach the wall don’t strain.
    In this position there should be just enough space to slide your hand in between the lower back inward curve and the wall.
  • If there is too much space, flatten this inward curve until your hand is touching the wall on one side and your back on the other side.
  • This will be your good standing posture for the lower back.
  • Whilst finding this position, keep your knees straight and don’t drop your chest down.

Mini Squat Exercise

To help you to learn and adapt this position, find your good posture position as explained above or on the video then…

  1. Whilst maintaining this good posture, slowly bend the knees to do a mini squat…
  2. …and then straighten your knees keeping the good postural position.

This will help you to learn the new, correct standing posture.

Now, the Retraction Exercise in my previous post will help you cope with a particularly common fault that causes poor standing posture. But of course, there are many other bad habits we can slip into, and we’ll look at some of them in future posts. But remember, once you know what good posture is you can work towards it.

So try out the advice we’ve covered today, and let me know how you get on!

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Pain Prevention Exercise…Retraction and Head Turning

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If you work at a computer, you probably already know how uncomfortable and disabling neck pain can be. You’ve probably already experienced it, right?Neck Pain

Because although back pain is the most prevalent computer-induced pain, neck pain comes a close second. So, what can you do about it?

Well, as with all computer-induced pains, one of the most effective activities to help you stay pain-free is exercise. Not just any exercise – the RIGHT exercise.

That’s why I’m now going to teach you one of the main exercises for office workers that will help prevent neck pain.

Neck Exercise…Retraction and Head Turning.

Perform this exercise two to three times a day with 5 repetitions each time, and you will:

  • Improve neck posture by strengthening your deep neck stability muscles.
    These help protect and prevent injury, especially when lifting but also when just sitting at your computer.
  • Maintain and even improve the range of movement of your neck.
    When you’ve been working at a computer all day for years, you’ll be used to sitting in a forward head position (“Looking like a tortoise!” as one of my patients put it). And you lose the ability to move your head backwards – a movement we call Retraction.

When movements are restricted you’re more likely to strain your neck. For instance, if someone calls your name and you suddenly turn your head, you can over-strain. But you can also injure yourself if you hold a strained position for a period of time, such as when you’re in poor posture.

So, are you ready to learn how to Retract and Head Turn?

Do try this … and keep it going! There isn’t a quick magic bullet for pain prevention, after all.

And let me know in the comments how you get on.

Remember …
Exercise + Other Positive Posture Activity = No Office Pain!

 
 

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Did You Know that ALL Office Pain is Preventable?

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Office Pain

All offices should have a government health warning on the door:
 
“This office can give you pain. Beware!”

Well it’s true! Ever since the mid-80s, when we all started to use office computers so much more, there’s been a massive surge of back and neck pain.

But why? After all, you’re only sitting at a desk!

And that’s just where the problem lies.
 

Let’s take a closer look into this…

 

The three main culprits are:

  • We sit badly – poor posture
  • We sit for too long – static posture
  • We don’t exercise at work – no movement

If we can cover these three points, then office pain IS preventable.

So, what do we need to do?

A: Getting into Good Posture

I’m not talking about shoulders-back, back-straight, look-like-a-ramrod! I’m talking about getting into your own personal good posture. And regularly coming back to that … because you WILL slouch during the day.

Because everybody’s good personal posture is different, then everybody’s workstation and chair setup is different. So that means you have to make sure everything you’re working with is in the appropriate position for YOU.

Do not neglect this – the penalty is pain!

Now, to be able to accomplish all this we need the correct equipment. Most desks in British offices are at a fixed height which means the chair needs to be fully adjustable. But don’t worry – if your chair’s any good, it will be adjustable. You’ve just got to learn how to do it.

So, once you’ve learnt your own good posture then you must make the chair, desk, maybe foot stool, and all necessary equipment fit YOU and support you in that good posture.

B: Stop Static Postures!

When we’re in one position for any length of time, certain structures in our body are under increased strain. This can lead to pain. And being static is an easy thing to do, because most people make the mistake of sitting glued to their screen without moving.

Now, just the slightest movement allows your body to cope with these strains. So, as mentioned before, regularly coming back to your good posture is also great because it creates movement and stops you being static. In fact, standing up (maybe when you’re talking on the phone, sometimes), fidgeting and wriggling in your chair,

So, once you’ve learnt your own good posture then you must make the chair, desk, maybe foot stool, and all necessary equipment fit YOU and support you in that good posture, or taking the opportunity to do a specific Office Pain Prevention Exercise will all help. Which brings us on to…

C: Office Pain Prevention Exercises

This is NOT about turning your office into a gym. No equipment or gym gear required!

Research has shown that there are specific exercises that will help you improve the quality of your posture and give you more resistance to office pain. They are simple, easy exercises that you should do at work; and most are doable at your desk.

In my next post I’ll show you a couple of really effective Pain Prevention Exercises you can do.

Do you suffer from pain when you’re working at a computer? What do you do about it?

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Keeping in Good Posture – Sitting to Standing

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Posture is a constant state…

Whether we’re moving or being still, awake or sleeping, we can be in good posture or we can be in bad posture.

Bad posture – as you know from this Blog – can harm your health and happiness.

But when you choose good posture :

  • There is less strain on your joints, muscles and tendons.
  • Your deep stability muscles have a chance to work.
  • Your circulation is better.
  • Your digestion is better.
  • You look better.

So if you know what your good posture is then you can make an informed decision. Why would you not?

In our last post, we looked a Standing Posture, so now let’s look at keeping in good posture when you’re moving from sitting to standing.

 

So Sitting to Standing…
  1. Come to the front edge of your seat whilst maintaining your good sitting posture.
  2. Tuck your feet under your knees.
  3. Whilst maintaining good spinal posture, bend forwards slightly at the hips only.
  4. Bend forwards until you have your weight over your feet.
  5. Maintain the same spine posture, so no movement here, engage the buttock muscles, squeeze your buttocks together, then move vertically.
  6. Keep your knees slightly apart.

The idea is that your buttocks work really hard and so you don’t have to bend the back.

Remember … what you DON’T want to do as you sit down or stand up is:

● Arch your lower back
● Let your knees come together

Some people will find this too difficult, so if you do, just raise the seat or find a higher seat to practice this exercise. This will make the job easier for the buttocks.

Then progress the exercise by gradually lowering the seat.

The buttock muscles are a very important muscle group and so I’ll dedicate my next blog to this muscle group and give you some more exercises to engage and to strengthen them.

PS: Don’t forget to share the video with your friends!

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Get Rid of Lower Back Pain with Good Standing Posture

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Lower back curve problemsDo you get pain in the lower back when you stand for a while?

Well, it could be that your standing posture isn’t quite as it should be, and that’s what’s giving you the nagging lower back pain.

If you stand with an accentuated inward curve in your lower back then small joints in the lower back, called facet joints, are under increased strain. And this can lead to strain and pain if you hold the posture.

But you can overcome this problem with practise and a couple of simple exercises to help correct the habit or pattern of movement.

Watch this video and I’ll show you what you can do to help…

So, this is what you do…

  • Stand with your back against a wall with heels 2 cms away from the wall.
    Your bottom, upper back and, if possible, the back of your head should be resting on the wall.
    If your head won’t reach the wall, don’t strain.
  • In this position, there should be just enough space to slide your hand in between the lower back inward curve and the wall.
  • If there is too much space, flatten this curve until your hand is touching the wall on one side and your back on the other side.

This will be your good standing posture for your lower back.

Whilst finding this position, keep your knees straight and don’t drop your chest down.

 

Mini Squat Exercise

This will help you to learn and adapt this position:

  • Find your good posture position as explained above or on the video then…
  • Whilst maintaining this good posture, slowly bend your knees to do a mini-squat
  • Then straighten your knees, again whilst keeping the good postural position. This will help you to learn the new, correct standing posture.

 

 

 

 

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You Don’t Know What You’ve Got Till It’s Gone

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IMG_3191This can be said of many things: the love of your life, a great job or just a friend living near by. We all have so many treasures that we don’t realise we have and we take so many of them for granted.

I mention all of this because not being in pain is like a gift we take for granted. We don’t even notice it’s there.

But back pain amongst office workers is at epidemic levels.

By definition, an epidemic occurs when, for a given population, over a given period, new cases of a certain disease substantially exceed what is expected based on recent experience. Well, actually, there has been an “epidemic “ since the eighties, so “epidemic” is probably the incorrect term nowadays. Perhaps, now, we should use the phrase “continued onslaught”.

Plus… we do expect this pain in offices… But how sad – people just accept what is preventable!

Anyway, back to “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone”. Living a pain-free life is a blessing. Yet there are so many people who, from no fault of their own, have pain on a daily basis. It seems so wrong that people who don’t have pain take this for granted.

For example, if you’re NOT in pain and I suggest you do some simple PP Pain Prevention exercises, what are you going to say? Can you be bothered? Too much like hard work? I’ll do it later?

Sadly, ‘later’ might be too late. ‘Later’ you might be a victim of Office-Induced Pain. Just for the want of doing a few simple activities every day you’re having to cope with all that pain, cost and suffering. And you could have prevented it!

So, the moral of this story is, BE BOTHERED!

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Arms on Chairs … Help or Hinderance?

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Office Chairs... With and Without ArmsArms on chairs… Hmmm!

First and foremost, you MUST be able to get your seating in the correct position.

Can you raise or lower the seat so that your shoulders are relaxed and your hands and forearms are in the correct position to work at your computer?

Can you then draw your chair up to the work surface with about four fingers between your body and the desk front?

So many times the problem is that the chair arms get in the way and you can’t draw the chair up close enough to the desk!

And the solution is… Remove the chair arms. I think all office chairs should have this option: easily removable arms.

Of course, another option is to alter the desk height, if you have the facility, but this doesn’t always solve the problem. For example, small people, with small torsos, may need the desk lowering which impinges on the chair arms, so that’s no good.

So, when are chair arms good?

If you have a painful back or leg condition, then chair arms can significantly assist by partially taking the weight off the painful areas when you stand from sitting at your office chair. And we know you should be regularly getting out of your seat.

Chair arms are also good if you’re not inputting at the keyboard and resting. At the appropriate height, chair arms can take strain off the neck and shoulders when resting.

But chair arms are not essential. Remember the most important feature is being able to adjust your seat so that your workstation fits YOU.

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