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Your lifestyle, your quirk
We all do things we’re not supposed to every day, and it has ill effects on our health. Doctors warn us not to wear high heels regularly, not to slouch, to be mindful of our wrists while typing, not to sit for long periods of time, etc. While the best thing you can do for your health is to avoid bad habits, it can be difficult in this day and age. Here are a few stretches that can help minimize the damage sustained when you go against expert advice. Keep in mind that none of these stretches are a substitute for medical care, so if you are experiencing pain, you should see a doctor.
Wearing high heels regularly can cause your Achilles tendon and calf muscles to shorten and tighten because your heels rarely touch the ground (which is how they would stretch normally). To prevent tightness in your muscles and tendons, stretch them out. To stretch your calves, Canadian Living recommends standing about a foot from a wall (facing it), extend one foot behind you and keep both feet flat on the floor. Keep your toes pointed toward the wall and your rear knee straight, bending the front one. Move your hips forward to lean into the wall while keeping your back straight until you feel tension in your rear calf and hold for 10 to 30 seconds. To stretch the Achilles tendon, start in the same position but bend the rear knee. Keep both heels on the floor and lower your hips until you feel tension in your Achilles tendon and hold for 10 to 30 seconds.
Most of us spend hours on the computer each day, not always in an ergonomically correct position. This can be hard on the wrists. It’s not just typing that can cause tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and wrist pain: drumming, crocheting, knitting, and other activities that involve repetitive wrist movements can all cause problems.
One of the best things you can do is structure your workplace to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome. If you are experiencing wrist pain and suspect you may have tendonitis or CTS, it’s best to see your doctor. These stretches are no substitute for medical care, but they may help reduce your risk of developing these wrist problems. Hold your arms out, shoulder-width apart, in front of you with palms facing each other. Put your thumbs down across your palms, then cover with the rest of your fingers. Move your fists so that your knuckles are angled downward, stretching the muscle in your forearm, wrist, and thumb.
To help prevent CTS, hold your arms up in front of you, shoulder-width apart again, but hold your open palms out in front of you (like you are telling someone to stop). This will stretch muscles in the wrist. If you experience pain, it means your muscles are already inflamed and you may have tendonitis or CTS. Don’t push yourself if there is pain, but in time it should get better with these stretches, according to David Kuckhermann, a drummer who provides a very informative video with more stretches available here.
Once known as “Blackberry Neck,” with the decline in the Blackberry’s popularity, hunched shoulders and neck pain from leaning into a tiny screen is now more accurately called “Tech Neck.” Looking down at our mobile devices puts us into weird positions that the body wasn’t designed for, and it causes us pain. No one can give up their mobile device these days, so to prevent neck pain you can do some stretches. Try a chin tuck, which is done by moving your chin toward your chest until you feel tension in the back of your neck, then holding the position for about 20 seconds. You can target the sides of your neck by moving your ear toward your shoulder and holding for 20 seconds. To maximize this stretch, you can use your hands to gently push your head towards your shoulder. Repeat on the other side.
All of your daily activities may not be doctor-recommended, but these stretches should help you prevent pain. The best pain prevention is to limit these activities: don’t wear high heels every day, try to set your computer workstation in an ergonomically-correct way, use the proper typing skills you learned in school, and look up from your mobile device every three to five minutes. You’ll be grateful you did when you are pain-free later.