Lockdown Workspace

Week 2 of lockdown has started, meaning many of you are still working from home and not in the office where your desk should be setup up support a good posture. Not everyone has a home office or a desk that is set up correctly with their computer equipment, so here are some simple tips that could help you improve your new workspace.

  1. Work at a desk or table with adequate knee clearance so that you can sit close to your laptop.
  2. Use a separate keyboard and mouse – this will help prevent you from ‘hunching’ over your laptop.
  3. Position the keyboard directly in front of you within easy reach, the mouse can be moved to various position, even swap hands to prevent sitting in one position the whole time.
  4. Position your laptop so that the top of the screen is level with your eye height. If you don’t have a laptop riser, use a box file or some books to adjust your laptop to the correct height.
  5. Try and use an adjustable chair while sitting, if this isn’t possible then rolled up towels can be used to support your lower back or use a cushion to raise the height of the seat.
  6. Maintain a good posture; if sitting, try to ensure that the small of your back is supported (this is where the towel can be used) and relax your shoulders
  7. If you want to stand and work, then a kitchen work top is often a good height or a chest of draws. Remember to raise your laptop using books etc. it is important to keep your legs, torso, neck and head approximately in line and vertical – try not to slouch, twist to the side or lean on the worktop.
  8. Don’t sit or stand for too long – change your posture every 5-10 minutes and take regular small breaks from your laptop.
  9. Take a longer break every 30 minutes

Please do not work on your sofa, I know it is really tempting to slouch onto the sofa because it is comfy, but it will cause all sorts of postural issues in the future. It is important to have a designated workspace and a chill out space so that you can have a change of scene.

I have posted some good stretches and exercises on my instagram (@mollysportsmassage) to help you keep mobile during lockdown.

Tennis Elbow

Tennis elbow or Lateral Epicondylitis as it is clinically known, is a condition that causes pain around the outside of the elbow, it often occurs after strenuous overuse of the muscles and tendons of the forearm. You do not have to play tennis to get this condition! I have seen several cases of Tennis elbow recently so thought I would write a Blog identifying the causes, symptoms and treatments.

Where/when is the pain?

  • On the outside of your upper forearm, just below the bend of your elbow
  • When you lift or bend your arm
  • When gripping small objects or when twisting your forearm e.g. opening a jar

Tennis elbow can last 6 months – 2 years, but it completely depends on the treatment you receive. Tennis elbow is most common in people aged 30-50, although anyone can get tennis elbow if they do repetitive motions.

The cause of tennis elbow

Lateral epicondylitis  (tennis elbow), involves the muscles and tendons of your forearm. Your forearm muscles extend your wrist and fingers. Your forearm tendons (often called extensors) attach the muscles to bone and they attach on to the lateral epicondyle. The tendon usually involved in tennis elbow is called the Extensor Carpi Radialis Brevis (ECRB).
If the muscles and tendons are strained (overused), tiny tears and inflammation can develop near the bony lump (the lateral epicondyle) on the outside of your elbow.

As the name suggests, tennis elbow is sometimes caused by playing tennis. However, it is often caused by other activities that place repeated stress on the elbow joint, such as decorating, playing the violin and repetitive lifting.

Treatment

Approximately 80 – 95% of people suffering with tennis elbow recover fully using treatment. These treatments include:

Rest
The first step is to give your arm proper rest, this involves stopping any sport/repetitive motions or heavy work activities for several weeks.

Ice
10 minutes at a time over the elbow joint, you can also take ibuprofen to reduce any inflammation and reduce the pain you may be experiencing.

Physical therapy
Sports Massage and manipulation into the forearm will help to reduce the tension in the muscles. Specific exercises are recommended to help strengthening the muscles of the forearm. Massage will help to stimulate healing of the micro-tears in the muscles. (exercises are shown on my instagram page @mollysportsmassage)

Equipment check
Check your racquet to make sure it is a ‘proper fit’ for you. Stiffer racquets and looser-strung racquets often can reduce the stress on the forearm. This will take the pressure off the muscles in the forearm and therefore reduce the likelihood of tennis elbow reoccurring.

Check the weights you are lifting – reduce the weights and less reps while you are in recovery. All of this will help to speed up recovery.

 

Is your Desk Job causing your hip pain?

I had a client recently say that their hips were hurting and felt tight, they told me that they had been sitting at their desk for a long period of time and doing a lot more driving. I explained that sitting for a long period of time is 1 of the most common causes of hip pain.

Sitting for a long period of time causes the glutes to be inactive and cause the quads and hip flexors to become tight. There is no scientific evidence of this, but it has been argued that sitting for long periods at a time physically shortens the hip flexors.

Therefore, it is so important to make sure that you take regular breaks from sitting and do some simple stretches that will prevent tight hips and prevent long term damage. Tight hips will have a knock-on effect on the lower back and glutes. So, if you have pain here you may also have tight hips, so these stretches are aimed at you too!

There are a few things you can do that will help you to reduce the tightness in the hips. One is to try and stand more during the working day, if there are standing desks in your office then try and use them for a couple of hours a day. It is a great way to break up the sitting pattern. If you do not have a standing desk area, then at least try and stand up throughout the day. For every 60minutes of work try and stand for 10.

The most effective is to do regular hip stretches, if you can do them during your breaks then that is perfect, if not then at least get them in before or after work.

  • Kneeling hip flexor stretch

Kneel on one leg, the other in front of you make sure you knee is at 90 degrees to your foot. Drive your hip forward and your knee into the ground. Your iliopsoas muscle (one of the hip flexors) requires isometric activation to stretch it.

  • Runners lunge stretch

If you cannot kneel then an adapted stretch is to position yourself as if you are about to start you race, lift the back knee off the floor. It is like a lunge but with a straight back leg (picture of how to do this stretch or see the image at the top of the blog)

  • Modified Camel Hip Stretch

Put both hands on your lower back and lean back, push your hips forward and look up to the sky.

  • Standing Quad Stretch

If you cannot balance very well then use a wall or chair for support. Lift your heel up towards your glutes (bottom) and hold the foot in your hand. To increase the stretch, push your hip forward.

Foam rolling your quads, ITB and TFL is another brilliant way to help with releasing the hips. Monthly massage is another brilliant way to help prevent tension, massage focusing on the hip flexors, quads, ITB and glutes will help to improve flexibility and reduce tightness in the hips.

 

All of these stretches will be featured on my instagram @mollysportsmassage over the next few days

 

Hamstring Stretches

So my past few Instagram posts have shown me doing some hamstring stretches. I have torn one of my hamstrings twice – both times playing hockey, you would have thought I might have learned from my mistakes but apparently not! Therefore, I understand the importance of looking after this muscle group.

About the hamstring

The hamstring refers to a group of 3 muscles that run along the back of your thigh, from your hip to just below your knee. These are called Bicep Femoris, Semimembranosus and Semitendinosus

Your Hamstring muscles are not used much while standing or walking but are very active during activities that involves bending the knee, such as running jumping and climbing.

When does injury occur?

An injury occurs when any of the tendons or muscles are stretched beyond their limit. More often than not they occur during sprinting, lunging or jumping. More gradual slower movements can also cause the hamstring to overstretch.

Prevention 

  • Regular stretching
  1. Towel stretch
    Sit upright, loop a towel over your foot and hold each end. Pull your leg up and do NOT bend your knee, keep your other leg flat on the floor and your back straight. Hold for 20-30 seconds, relax and repeat 3 times on each leg
  2. Simple stretch
    Sit on the floor with both legs straight out in front of you. Extend the arms and reach forward by bending at the waist as far as possible. Keep your knees straight. Hold for 20-30 seconds and repeat 3 times.
  3. Hurdle Stretch
    Sit on the floor 1 leg straight out, bend the other leg at the knee and position sole of the foot against your opposite thigh. Extend arms and reach forward over the straight one by bending at the waist. Hold for 20-30 seconds, relax and repeat 3 times on each leg
  • Foam Roll
  • Massage
    If the hamstring is still tight after stretching and foam rolling then you need to book in for a Sports Massage. 30 minutes on just the hamstrings is enough to prevent an injury. You need to listen to your body otherwise you will end up with a tear like me and you will be out of training for weeks!

See my Instagram for pictures of the stretches @mollysportsmassage

Desk Stretches

Recently I have had a lot of clients coming in complaining of tension headaches, achy shoulders, pain around the neck and shoulder blades going down the back.

Monitor height, chair height and desk height are all key components that will be contributing to the shoulder and neck pain you are feeling. I am sure you all get told by your company how to set up your desks, so I am not going to bore you with how to do this. I am going to give you some stretches to do at your desk which will help to break up your work cycle and help your muscles!

  • Neck Side Bend

Place your left hand on your head and gently guide your left ear down towards your left shoulder. Stop when you feel a stretch on the right-hand side of your neck – Hold for 10-20 seconds. Repeat 5 times each side.

  • Shoulder Blade Pulls

Relax shoulders and neck, squeeze your shoulder blades together as if you are trying to hold a pencil between them. Return to neutral and repeat 5 times.

  • Reverse Hands Push Outs

With your palms reaching forward, hold hands together (link fingers) and extend your arms straight in front of you. Keep your back straight. Hold for 10-20 seconds and repeat 5 times.

  • Pray hands Position

Place palms together fingers pointing upwards, push your hands downwards to the middle of your chest. Hold for 10-20 seconds, repeat 5 times.

 

Let me know how you all get on – tag me @mollysportsmassage in your Instagram stories of you and your colleagues attempting these simple stretches! Happy Easter.