For anyone who uses a computer (or even a smartphone) regularly, it's common for wrists and forearms to get tight and sore. To help you stay limber and pain free (and to decrease the risk of repetitive-use injury, including carpal tunnel), I wanted to share this video. In it, I demonstrate a quick, simple forearm massage you can do throughout the day to release tension and reduce pain in your wrists, hands, and arms. I hope you'll check it out.
We know how important it is to have an ergonomic work station at your office. But what happens when you work a couple days (or more) at home, where we rarely have an ideal ergonomic set up?
Here is some practical advice to keep your body healthy and happy when working from home:
The most important thing is not to stay in any one position for more than 50 minutes. Moving into different scenarios keeps your body in different positions so it doesn’t settle into any (potentially harmful) patterns. For example, if you like to work from a certain comfy chair with your laptop, that’s fine, but don’t let it suck you in for hours. Set a timer for 50 minutes, and when it goes off, switch locations. Try using your kitchen counter as a makeshift standing desk. After another 50 minutes, move to your kitchen table.
When you change location, take a few minutes to walk the stairs in your building or to take a walk around the block. Getting the blood flowing helps keep your muscles loose, and has the added benefit of quieting and focusing your mind.
Every hour or two, get on the ground (a yoga mat or rug is great) and do some spinal twists, hug your knees to your chest, or just stretch and roll around however feels good to you. If you’d like some simple exercises to target specific sore or tight areas, check out my YouTube channel.
Do your hips get tight or fidgety after sitting down for a long time? I hear this from lots of my patients, since so many of them spend most of their day in front of a computer. Try this simple hip stretch throughout the day to keep your hips supple and pain-free. You don't even need to leave your chair (although I recommend you do that, too ;)
Ask any of my clients and they have undoubtedly heard me talk about the psoas, a muscle deep inside the pelvis that connects to the lower spine and is a key stabilizer for the whole body. The latissimus dorsi, or the "lat" for short, is kind of the psoas of the upper body. It is the muscle that pulls your shoulders back and opens your chest—and it's commonly underdeveloped, helping contribute to our computer-related posture issues, including "text neck."
While well-meaning yoga and exercise instructors may tell us to "pull" our shoulders away from our ears, if the lats are not strong, this action can create unwanted tension in the neck and shoulders. Instead, I suggest a few simple exercises that, done regularly, will help you strengthen the lat, improve your posture, and relieve upper body pain.
To strengthen the lat, try a single arm row, which allow you to focus on one side of your lat muscle at a time. Choose a weight that you can perform at least eight repetitions with; don't do more than 12 repetitions. To perform a single-arm row, place your left knee and left hand onto the bench and place your right foot on the ground (or place your left elbow on your left knee, as in the illustration). Keep your back flat, hold the weight in your right arm, allow your right arm to hang toward the ground, lift your right hand upward until it is next to your chest, and lower your arm back down. After you complete the desired number of repetitions on the right side, switch to the left side.
The easiest way to stretch the lat is to lay flat on your back with legs bent, and let your arms fall to your sides in a "cactus" position (see video). Slowly raise your arms, keeping your elbows and hands in contact with the floor, then lower. Repeat eight or ten times.
I have a lot of patients who enjoy yoga. Yoga is a wonderful practice that can help with strength and flexibility. But, like any physical activity, it can have negative side effects if you don’t listen to your own body’s needs while doing it.
Have you ever heard the instructor suggest a pose you’re pretty sure you’re not strong enough to hold, and when he or she gives a modification, a little voice in your head says, “Oh come on, do you really need to modify this?” I’m here to suggest that you kindly tell that voice to buzz off.
Because the fact is, you are the one who has to go home with your body when the class is over. Not the instructor. Not the person next to you with perfect form who can balance their entire body on one arm. You. Hence, “you-ga.”
When that “Oh, come on” voice speaks up, just remember what the instructor probably told you at the beginning of class: whenever you feel you need a rest, you’re welcome to return to child’s pose. Child’s pose is a totally valid pose, it’s not just “resting,” even though it’s restorative.
If you don't pay attention to what your body is capable of at any given moment, you may end up pushing yourself to the point of injury. Common injuries occur from stretching too deeply (remember to relax into a stretch, rather than pushing into it) and doing poses you don’t have the strength for (which makes you likely to be out of alignment and, therefore, prone to hurting yourself).
After an injury, you most likely will need to stay away from yoga and potentially other activities until you heal, which is no fun. So next time you’re heading to a yoga class, remember to practice you-ga as well.
What do you do for a living?
I am an esthetician/makeup artist by trade and I own LK Skin Studio, a day spa in San Francisco.
How long have you been going to a chiropractor?
Before meeting Helaine, I had been to see a chiropractor once a few years back. It was a very different experience.
I started coming in regularly in September, 2015. Immediately I knew Helaine wanted to get a full understanding of my body and how it works. She asked so many questions and watched me walk. You can tell she is passionate about her work!
How does it make you feel?
I always feel like a million bucks when I leave. I LOVE when she adjusts my neck!! I feel so invigorated!
What else do you do to feel healthy?
I am always playing around with my diet to see what helps my mind and body operate at an optimal level.
I also play soccer in a women's league and sample different types of workouts at all the boutique fitness studios in SF. Most recently I tried Barry's Bootcamp (killer). I would like to incorporate some extra time for stretching this year and work on running more.
Favorite health tip?
I am constantly on the go and sometimes don't realize how wound-up or in my head I am. I like to rub peppermint oil or tiger balm or the Headache blend by DōTerra onto my temples throughout the day. All 3 have analgesic properties. This can tame tension headaches and calms me down, too.
A few weeks ago, I was chatting with a patient who was complaining of tightness in his back and legs. I told him, "I think this should be the year of the hamstring for you." Tight hamstrings create tension in more than your legs—they can cause pain and tightness in your neck, middle, and lower back as well. So I'm declaring 2016 The Year of the Hamstring for everyone!
And in honor of this important year, I want to share a simple, fun exercise you can do to keep your hammies happy. It can be done anywhere there's a doorway—you don't even have to change your clothes. As you can see in the video, I'm demonstrating it in our office in between patients!
Start by lying on the floor near a door frame. Put one leg up the wall and scoot your butt in until your raised leg is as straight as it will go. Then, keeping your back flat on the ground, raise and lower the other straightened leg, as shown above. I love this stretch because it statically stretches the leg against the wall while dynamically stretching the one you raise and lower. Do this at least once a day, 10 raises on each side to help loosen your hamstrings. Happy 2016!
I was getting my hair cut and colored by my friend Brooke (at Veer&Wander, BTW). I've been going to her since 1999. It was time for the blow out and I told her that I never blow dry my hair. It takes too long. Here is my list of reasons:
It takes too long
I start seeing patients by 7:45
I need to get up early
I can never get it as good as she does
She just stared at me. She told me that she could teach me how to do it in 5 minutes. Here's the wisdom I learned and I realized I say the same thing to my patients with regard to doing their 5 minutes of daily exercise. She said, "People want a great result without doing anything extra.They expect these great results but won't put any effort into it." So I said, "Okay." I put my timer on and she proved to me that I could dry my hair in 5 minutes.
We all have 5 minutes! I'm a big believer that it's the cumulative effect of doing something every day that makes us healthy and our bodies feel good.
My clients are so awesome. Meet Julie Babin ofwww.juliebabindesign.com and a fantastic client.
Q. What do you do for a living?
A. Residential Interior Design.
Q. How long have you been going to the chiropractor?
A. Since I was 6 months old.
Q. Why do you go?
A. I use chiropractic as the main form of keeping in good general health. I go once a month for what I like to call “a tune up.”
Q. How does it make you feel?
A. It always makes me feel lighter, and I move more fluidly.
Q. What else do you do to stay healthy?
A. Love to eat healthy, tons of dark leafy greens and clean lean protein. Also acupuncture once a month. Yoga, Pilates and dance three to four times a week keep me strong.
Q. Want to share a favorite health tip?
A. Kombucha! I drink one every day. It takes away any sluggishness, headaches, belly aches. It’s a cure-all for me.
I must be honest. I’ve stolen this recipe from my new favorite cookbook, “Cook Yourself Sexy,” by Candice Kumai. I’ve made a few changes and additions, but the recipes are so delicious, I even ate oatmeal for lunch yesterday. Now, most of the time when I eat oatmeal, I’m hungry an hour later; but because of this recipe’s almond milk and peanut butter, I feel quite satisfied. For several hours.
Makes 2 servings:
- 1 cup oatmeal (but not instant. I’ve been using the gluten-free version from Trader Joe’s)
- 1 cup almond milk
- 1 cup water
Cook your oatmeal. Put it in a pretty bowl (it’s all about presentation). Add fresh raspberries (I’ve also used bananas). 1 tsp of your favorite peanut butter (I’ve tried almond butter but it’s just not as delicious). 1 tsp of your favorite Nutella-esque spread (Justin’s makes a healthier version, but it’s just a tsp, so go to town). Sit down and enjoy!