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Become a guru at correcting your posture

Correcting your posture neck neutral

It is financial year end for many of us and that means more time in front of the computer. When the pain sets in from hours of sitting with a curved spine, you suddenly remember those threats of ‘sit up straight or else’. My question to you…so how comfortable is it to sit up as …

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Are sports injuries related to the New Year?

sports injuries new years

Are Sports Injuries related to the New Year? Why is it, without fail, that every year I suddenly have an influx of sports injuries towards the end of January? I have no hard evidence from a journal to corroborate my findings but after 15 years of being in the industry I can confidently say that …

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Flip Flops & Dangerous Festive Holiday Habits

Dangerous holiday habits flip flops

It’s the end of a tough year, we all drop down into slow gear looking to relax, haul out those flip flops and inevitably, all the other dangerous festive holiday habits.

Flip flops, a comfortable couch and those delicious homemade mince pies all look very innocent at first glance. However, if you place these in the wrong hands and in the wrong situation, they suddenly become objects of torture, capable of inflicting large amounts of pain.

Let us take a closer look:

Dangerous Festive Holiday Habit no. 1… flip flop frenzy.

All year you wander around the office or the gym in a pair of well supported shoes. (Ladies, I don’t mean high heels). The sole cushions your arches, the heel of the shoe supports your ankle and your toes just come along for the ride. The skin of your feet gets soft, in fact manicured and the muscles have hardly had any major work to do. Occasionally the flip flops come out, a few appearances in a one act show.

Dangerous holiday habits flip flops

Then comes December and you shove those tootsies into a pair of flip flops almost 24/7, walk miles along the promenade or the beach, attempt records in the malls and even a little jog. Those foot muscles that haven’t had much to do all year now grip for dear life onto that tiny piece of plastic between your toes. At some point in your lovely holiday, the sole of your foot has had enough and begins to complain.

Your mind goes from pure holiday bliss to being aware that every step feels like nails are driven up your heels. Dangerous festive holiday habit no. 1 has resulted in plantar fasciitis.

 

How do you avoid this?

Like any new activity or sport, build up your strength and endurance slowly.

Don’t wear your flip flops all day every day, alternate with other footwear.

Rather use supportive shoes for shopping or walking long distances.

Use your flip flops during the year, after all, donning those tiny pieces of plastic always feels like holiday.

If you have already created a little monster under your feet, click here in order to view a way to ease the pain.

Strengthen your foot muscles during the year and during your holidays. Watch this video for ideas.

 

Dangerous Festive Holiday Habit no. 2… comfortable couch snoozes.

The heat of the summer sun filters into the lounge, your tummy is full, your heart is joyful, the television has the test match at just the right volume and your eyes become heavy. Your position on the couch goes from upright to horizontal in zero to 10 seconds, occasionally you still flutter open your eyelids to catch a glimpse of the cricket score.

In your mind you are comfortable and in a happy place. To the outsider you look like a part of a Picasso painting because at this stage your head is at a right angle to your body, twisted into a hot messy lump on the armrest.

dangerous holiday habits sleeping santa

Slowly your daydream disappears and is replaced by a nightmare. This time it is your neck starting to sound the alarm bells and when you finally come round to reality, your neck is stuck in one direction like that boy band. Whenever your name is called, you have to maneuver your entire body in the direction of the voice and suddenly your driving blind spot has become the Bermuda Triangle.

 

How do you approach the couch with caution to avoid dangerous festive holiday habit no.2?

Arm the couch with good supportive pillows for those afternoon zees, keep the neck in neutral not perpendicular to the rest of your spine.

Sleep on your bed…

If your comfortable couch has already done the damage…try a hot pack for 5-10 minutes and once the muscles are warm, gently stretch them. The previous blog gives some tips on the basic rules of stretching.

 

Dangerous Festive Holiday Habit no.3…mince pie mania.

We are all too aware of all the delicious treats that bombard our diets at this time of year. This is a tough one because that crust followed by the soft centre of sweet fruitiness is the thing Christmas dreams are made of. Pile them high and shovel them in over the entire holiday and some of the kids start to mistake you for Santa. And I don’t mean because of the beard.

When you turn the corner, suddenly your belly begins to follow you. Your poor spine is screaming out at the extra weight as your enlarged gut is pulled down by gravity. In the last days before it is time to head back to work, your discs eventually give up and just as you reach down to pick up a piece of paper wrapper remnant from Christmas day, you get stuck. The pain knocks your breath out and for all you know, someone just kicked you in the kidneys. Lower back pain has struck again like a thief in the night.

 

How  do you avoid dangerous festive holiday habit no. 3?

Sho, this is a tough one. Perhaps the knowledge that added weight, especially around the belly could lead to major back pain, is a deterrent. I sure hope so.

This is an area that I also struggle with because there is nothing nicer than good food with good friends and a lot of laughter.

Personally, I know making yourself accountable to someone like a dietician helps, this has been the time when I have noticed the most positive outcomes in my own journey.

Perhaps this is a topic to be explored at a later stage, for the time being, be wise, be safe and happy holidays.

Refresh your ideas on stretching

refresh ideas stretching

We all get stuck in a rut, so it is time to refresh your ideas on stretching. Here are 3 quick steps that should be followed and can be adapted to any stretching program for any muscle:

1. Stretch after warming up, don’t go cold turkey on those muscles

Why the fuss about only stretching after warming up? Have you ever tried taking a fizzer sweet from the fridge and gently break it in two to share with your friend? It doesn’t snap, it shatters like glass. Yet if you warm it up, it can stretch for days. Same goes to say about your muscles and tendons, the risk of snapping is higher on a cold tendon or muscle.

How do I warm up? Gentle repetitive movements through the range of the muscle that you plan on stretching. E.g. Calves: slowly go up and down on your toes starting with only a small lift of the heels. Increase the height after 5-10 reps.

2. Don’t kid yourself, 10 seconds of stretching is a waste of your time

If you are going to take stretching seriously and actually improve your flexibility, then time and repetition are 2 factors you need to make friends with.

Thinking that a stretch any shorter than 20 seconds will help you gain range, is like throwing a cup of water over a fire and expecting it to be extinguished.

If you want to see a change, hold that stretch for at least 30 seconds and repeat it 3-5 times, going a millimeter or two further with each repetition.

3. Your stretching mantra should NOT be no pain, no gain

Pain is our natural warning system that something is out of sorts. So please, don’t override this clever little system with bravery bordering on stupidity.

Refresh ideas stretching

A stretch is always going to feel uncomfortable but it is not meant to be painful, especially if you follow steps 1 and 2.

Rather work with this stretching mantra…

Gradual gain = Long-term gain.