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Health and Wellbeing - March 2019

28 Feb 2019

Flexibility, mobility and wellbeing

One of the most physically impressive athletes (only in my opinion …) has to be a prima ballerina, or any accomplished ballet dancer for that matter.

Their grace, posture, power and strength comes from years of disciplined training. If you have participated in yoga, Pilates or stretch class recently you will be able to pick the dancers a mile away.

They are the ones that just seem to fall into the splits as if they were born that way – but that’s not the case. Very flexible and mobile individuals have likely been active and stretched every day of their lives and we, well probably, not so much.

I am not recommending we should all start stretching every day for two hours for the rest of our lives. What I am suggesting to you is to incorporate some stretching, mobility and relaxation exercises into your weekly routine in the interest of your own wellbeing.

Let’s start with some basics: we should all be exercising, or at least be physically active for 30-45 minutes per day, every day.

Now you may be close or even on top of this but have you incorporated your stretching and mobility exercises into this routine? If you are taking yoga, stretching and Pilates classes regularly you most likely have this covered. If not, your regular exercise without stretching and mobility exercises will be great for building muscles, muscle tone and strength, and improving your cardio vascular fitness. But without stretching, it is likely to be having an adverse impact on your mobility and flexibility.

So for every workout you do, make sure you are stretching the muscles worked, and also all the muscles around your spine and hips. This will help reduce neck and back pain. You should also incorporate flowing stretches with movement as a preference to just static stretching. If you are not sure, join a stretch or yoga class and get your own feel for it that just make it what you do.

Health benefits of running

Running is one of the most portable and least expensive forms of exercise for participants.

You can run by yourself if you prefer solitary exercise or you can run with friends or join a run group if you are looking for a more social experience.

Aside from investing in a good pair of runners and some comfortable running clothes (loose fitting, breathable material), the cost of participation is low.

If running is one of best forms of exercise (it is), then why don’t more people get out and run? The reason is because it is hard work. But like most kinds of hard work, it pays off.

Let me re-clarify; when I say that it is hard, I mean hard to get started. Once you find your rhythm and develop a routine, running becomes enjoyable.

So if you are just starting out, first get clearance from your doctor to run. Then follow these tips to make sure your there is longevity in your career as a runner!

  • Build it up – distance, time and intensity;
  • Warm up and cool down/stretch with every session;
  • Drink plenty of fluids - before, during and after;
  • Vary the workouts – don’t run every day;
  • Plan your course – think about the environment, surface, safety and pollution; and
  • Track your progress – you will improve, so your progress will motivate you to continue.

Why run anyway?

  • Build stronger bones;
  • Strengthen muscles;
  • Improve fitness;
  • Maintain a healthy weight; and
  • If you can’t run, walking with some enthusiasm is also great!

Five tips to help manage lower back pain

Before you reach for the medication… make sure consider the following tips to help manage your lower back pain for the long term:

  • Exercise - It doesn’t need to be strenuous, but maintaining regular and gentle exercise routines like walking and getting out of a seated position will help;
  • Limit down time - Excessive bed rest or lying down can be counterproductive. It may help relieve the immediate symptoms by taking pressure off the spine, but will not resolve underlying issues. If you can move, then you should. And the more you move the better;
  • Strengthen your core - Poor core muscular conditioning places strain on the lower back. Strengthening the core muscles will provide more support to the spine;
  • Improve your flexibility - Tight hamstrings, hip flexors and lower back muscles can play havoc with your posture and alignment of your pelvis. Combined with balanced strength work in these areas, stretching and improving flexibility will provide long-term solutions and pain management;
  • Consult a physiotherapist - Rather than relying on generalised advice or information, consult a physiotherapist. They will assess your personal situation and pain, and then prescribe treatment and actions including strengthening and flexibility that you can complete in your own time.

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