STAND UP FOR YOUR HEALTH: THE RISKS OF A SEDENTARY LIFESTYLE

Exercise is well known for its health benefits - but please beware that exercise alone will not make you immune to the health risks of a sedentary lifestyle.

There are so many benefits of exercise and physical fitness on mental health and cognitive performance. We know that the changes in the brain are profound, some of these include positive changes on synaptic size and density, vascular density and nerve regeneration. See link for an in-depth article on brain changes and exercise. Exercises increases the size of hippocampus and improves memory, which otherwise deteriorates with age and a sedentary lifestyle.

The human body is evolved to move around so it’s probably no big surprise that a lack of physical activity has detrimental effects on our mind, sleep cycle and organs.

The stats are clear – every hour spent sitting is associated with an 11% increased risk of death from all causes, 18% increase risk of death from cardiovascular disease and 9% from cancer.

The Australian recommendations on physical activity are (http://www.health.gov.au):

  • Accumulate 150 to 300 minutes (2 1⁄2 to 5 hours) of moderate intensity physical activity or 75 to 150 minutes (1 1⁄4 to 2 1⁄2 hours) of vigorous intensity physical activity, or an equivalent combination of both moderate and vigorous activities, each week. Do muscle strengthening activities on at least 2 days each week.

Also, just FYI for all those bootcampers and hot yogi’s: sweat sessions do not make you immune to the side effects of being sedentary. In fact, working out and limiting time spent sitting are the key for overall health.

The solution is move around as often as you can. Augment your activities with something called ‘nonexercise activity thermogenesis’ (NEAT). This means: low-impact movements that keep your metabolism on the go and your circulation flowing. Use NEAT to your advantage – move around while talking on the phone burns extra calories.

CHOOSE YOUR FOOTWEAR CAREFULLY THIS SUMMER!

A question that people frequently ask us at the clinic is whether there is a seasonal pattern in injuries.  The answer is yes.  With the beginning and ending of different sporting seasons, the increased rehearsals for the end of year dance concerts, the increase in stressful periods for office workers.

WHAT DO WE EXPECT DURING THE HOLIDAY SEASON? 

Well, the summer holidays often coincide with an increase in foot related injuries.  It’s just that time of year that people tend to find themselves walking in flip flops (and other unsupportive footwear) for longer periods then they usually would.  When you consider that your feet bear the entire weight of your body and then think about the distances you walk around sightseeing as a tourist, you would be likely to reconsider your footwear.

THE PERILS OF FLIP-FLOPS….

The problem with flip-flops is they don’t offer your foot any support or protection.  They also force you to grip your toes, so you’re not walking in the normal heel-to-toe manner. This is confounded by different factors including weight gain, age and poor biomechanics, existing injury, as well as external factors such as walking surface.

Excessive ‘rolling in’ or pronation causes the arches of the foot to collapse resulting in unnatural elongation of the foot. This can lead to overuse or dysfunction in the muscles that support the arch such as tibialis posterior, and the connective strut of the arch, the plantar fascia. Additionally over time a ‘heel spur’ may develop (a bony growth which forms on the calcaneus), in many individuals this may be pre-existing, but can cause or contribute to the foot pain. The end result: injury to your feet, and potentially along the kinetic chain in the knees, hips and low back.

NOW WE’RE NOT ASKING YOU TO WEAR SNEAKERS WITH YOUR SUMMER DRESS…. 

Although the extent to which painful feet can inhibit your daily activities may make you think twice.

People who experience foot pain should seek treatment immediately and never assume that time alone will make the pain go away. Rest, ice and anti-inflammatories (topical / oral) are the best initial management of these issues.  However, alone will not correct the whole issue.  Physiotherapy will manage the condition holistically with correction of biomechanics, exercise prescription, and safe progression to previous activity.

Confusion to the Core!

The word core is commonly misinterpreted, particularly when it comes to performing ‘core’ exercises. While there are specific exercises aimed to isolate core muscles, essentially your core muscles are active in ALL movements of the body. If your aim is to gain a stronger core (…and we know that it is!) then being aware of how these muscles are best engaged is a must.

Let’s get the boring (but necessary) stuff out of the way with a brief anatomy lesson. The core muscles consist of the:

  • Transversus abdominis: visually consider this to be similar to a corset wrapping around the trunk. It is deep to the ‘6 pack’ rectus abdominis, and obliques;
  • Multifidus: We have many multidifi which are back muscles, they provide segmental control - that is they attach across one to two vertebrae.
  • Pelvic floor: This consists of a group of muscles that lay horizontally in the pelvic cavity.

What makes the core muscles different to other muscle groups? This group of muscles serve to compress the abdominal cavity, and support and protect the spine.

Consider this difference – core muscles maintain a low level of tone (recruitment) throughout the day to provide compression and support. This is unlike other muscles that serve to produce more global movements, such as the biceps which turn on to pick up an object and turn off when replacing it.

When the core is not doing its job very well, the compensation tends to appear elsewhere. Often the more global movers will try to take on the load and this can result in pain, restriction and tautness in the muscle and that region of the body, or a compensation further down the kinetic chain.

Simple steps to get you started:

Transversus abdominis: Draw the belly into the spine, by trying to be “skinny’ you will use this muscle. You'll also find that your posture naturally corrects itself as you lengthen the spine. It’s simply a gentle drawing in.  No breath holding! Try to time it with the exhale.

Pelvic floor: Imagine that you trying to stop urine flowing midflow and at the same time trying to stop yourself from passing wind (… there’s not really a more graceful way of explaining the fundamentals). Again, time it with the exhale.

It's important to note, that often when we perform so called core exercises such as sit-ups or planks, we can very easily not be recruiting our core muscles very well unless we bring attention to them.  

It doesn’t matter if you remember all the latin lingo or not! But the rundown is that you have a group of core muscles that serve to protect a pretty important part of your body. By training these muscles well, you will prevent injury and be more powerful in sporting and other activities.

Posted by Alana