Hi, my name is Lauren Poxon. Mother of a pigeon pair under 4, wife to a wonderful man twice my height (which is very useful when you need to get something out of the top cupboard) and passionate physiotherapist. This is my Level 5 Lockdown experience, tell me about yours…
Lockdown is a period of time that has and can mean different things to different people. Please don’t let my fairly light-hearted yet sincere account of my experience deter from the fact that I in any way disregard that it a very stressful time for most people. My best friend is a doctor and a mom of two boys working on the front line, so to family, friends, my colleagues and strangers working in the medical and essential services, I salute you.
I was heartened, as I hope you will be, by the fact that there were some positives during this trying time.
Stairs are an underestimated and underutilised form of exercise.
My husband, 2 kids (3yr and 20 month old) and I were fortunate enough to lockdown with my mom and dad up the north coast. This gave us some more space and some support, but also some stairs to climb on a very regular basis. The benefit of this regular form of ‘exercise’ was most noticeable in my youngest, who is now a lot stronger in her legs. My husband also uses the stairs when he gets a chance to exercise, for cardio work, lat dips, push ups etc.
Lesson learnt: take the stairs, regularly and often – it’s a very good form of exercise!
Housework and gardening are forms of exercise
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends 150 minutes of exercise per week. This can be broken up into smaller increments of 10minutes or longer, a number of times per day and includes activities like housework and gardening.
These guidelines are nicely outlined HERE.
Lesson learnt: all activity counts, so don’t beat yourself up if you can’t exercise because you are doing housework and gardening 😉
It really does take a village
We have been very fortunate to lockdown with my folks. With all the daily chores that need to be done…the cooking, cleaning, washing, gardening, fixing, sewing, etc. on top of looking after 2 very busy little bodies, the help has been very welcomed. It highlighted a few things for me – our ‘normal’ day to day lives are so busy; we are very fortunate to have help in our homes and gardens; and single parents are a super species of human beings.
Lesson learnt: build, create, use, be a village, we all need one, even if you don’t have children, we are communal beings.
I am definitely, undeniably, unequivocally not cut out to be a teacher.
So I had this suspicion all along, but if lockdown has taught me anything, it is that I was right about this fact. At this point in time, I’d like to give a big shout out to all teachers, everywhere!!!
I am indeed a ‘long sleeper’
I heard a discussion on the radio many years ago saying that you get what you call short sleepers and long sleepers, meaning that some people naturally require more sleep than others. I felt justified in my ‘need to sleep’. During this lockdown my amazing husband has been getting up in the morning for the kids and I have managed to sleep in most mornings till….wait for it…..7am!!! I am noticeably less grumpy with my kids on my ‘late mornings’
Lesson learnt: don’t underestimate our bodies need for sleep and having a short sleeper husband.
Our bodies need a variety of exercise or movement.
Maybe contrary to most people, I have had more opportunity to exercise during lockdown than prior to it (largely due to my ‘village’). The World Health Organisations guidelines recommend aerobic activity (moderate 150min/week or 75min vigorous/equivalent combination/week) as well as muscle strengthening activities involving major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week. Our bodies need cardiovascular exercise, strength and flexibility.
Lesson learnt: mix it up, there is no one best form of exercise but learn to listen what your body needs and enjoys
It is better to load your body gradually than to try make up for lost time
So I admit that my having my ‘village’ allowing more opportunity to exercise may have led to a little bit of overdoing it the first couple of weeks. Our tissues are very strong and very adaptable, there is however a point at which the load will cause a strain. This point is variable from tissue to tissue and person to person and fluctuates over time. It is affected by many factors including your genetics, age, disease, medications, and fluctuating factors like your hormones. Hormonal fluctuations can affect things like biomechanics, laxity of ligaments and muscular firing patterns.
What we all need to remember now or post lockdown, is to gradually increase your load, be it through frequency, type, intensity, resistance…….build it up and allow your body time to adapt. Some of you may have already realised this after Day 1 of Lockdown Level 4 exercise freedom.
Lessons learnt: quite a few actually. Firstly, I am only human. Secondly, I am not good at following my own advice and thirdly, to determine your levels of fitness, strength and flexibility and GRADUALLY work up from there. You can consult a physio if you are having difficulty finding your balances – we are great at advising other people 😉
I actually have no idea what to do with my pelvic floor muscles during exercise.
Yes I know where there are (deep in your pelvis), I know what they do (form the floor of your abdomen, maintaining continence and forming part of your ‘core’), and I think I know how to activate them…..but add that into exercise and my brain reaches it’s ‘strain level’ . This may be the case for many women post- partum, peri-menopausal women as well as men (post pelvic injury, surgery, prostrate treatment etc.). There are physiotherapists that have a special interest in pelvic health and can assess and advise you on this topic.
Lesson learnt: swallow my pride and go and find out more about my pelvic floor. Lucky for us, we have Candice Langford.
To be grateful for the little things
In our busy lives, I think we often get caught up in what we have to get done and not necessarily appreciate what we have. I am grateful for this time to realise what and who is important in my life.
We really, really miss you
Physiotherapy is not only about treating people with our hands. It’s also about getting to know people……what they do, what their work entails, who their families are, what they like to do, in order to try and best treat, advise, support or coach them to reach their goals and individual potentials.
So please come visit us soon, we miss your faces.