Column: Working in a winter wonderland

Helen Martin Affordable Community Massage

Helen Martin Affordable Community Massage

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This time of year can be a time when conditions flare up – extra physical and emotional stress can build up too. We’re a lot more prone to injuries – here are a few common ones and easy ways to avoid them.

The first thing I notice with people coming through to Affordable Community Massage is that because we are doing a lot more sitting or driving and getting out a lot less than in the summer months, ‘old’ conditions that people had forgotten about like sciatica or trapped nerves are recurring because muscles are getting stiff.

When you’re sitting you want to engage the deep abdominal muscles that support the back, rather than working from a position where the shoulders and neck are left to hold you up. You should find your neck rises naturally and your shoulders relax.

The second most common thing, is that mood dips. You’re not alone with the feeling of wanting to hide under the duvet. For some people it’s worse than others, but for most of us it seems to be a common biological drive at this time of year, particularly first thing.

Feeling tired a lot of the time (unless you have a chronic health condition) can sometimes be helped by doing the opposite of what you ‘want’ to do – actually slowly increasing exercise and physical activity.

The way a healthy body works is the more you do, the more you feel able to do – and the less you do the more sluggish you feel.

Certainly for me, it’s worse in the morning – but knowing that it will pass, the most important thing is what I do with that feeling.

If you have trouble, it is suggested to try something small, say briskly hoovering first thing or walking ‘like you’re late’ for five minutes as soon as you feel a wave of tiredness, then build gradually from there.

As the first Christmas trees go on sale and bending to put in brand new sofas before Christmas we’re also seeing twists in the lumbar region and lower back.

When lifting, top tips are be mindful of where the ‘load is’ – keep it near to you. Almost think of yourself like a robot, with elbows and the load close to the body. – rather than the box going one way and you going the other.

Be careful to watch for slips on ice and leaves. The natural reaction is arms out and ‘twisting’ away from danger. This can jar spines and muscles and crick necks.

When we fall the muscles surrounding the spine ‘clamp up’ to protect it and absorb the shock. This clamping can last for weeks or months, leading to more and more tension. Comfortable shoes are a must this time of year.

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