Updated: May 19
In our profession, us therapists sometime take for granted the daily habits that we naturally incorporate into our routine that help keep our bodies feeling mobile and healthy. But, we DO know off the top of our heads what NOT to do, and I'd like to share some of those with you today!
Sitting for longer than 30 minutes at a time. This is a top bad habit. I'm sure you've heard the "sitting is the new smoking." This is true in many ways. Sitting for prolonged periods can contribute to neck and back pain, headaches, and joint stiffness. Now this doesn't mean that you have to go for a long walk every 30 minutes. Just get up, shift your weight back and forth a few times, or take a few steps. Just get out of that sitting position for a bit, even if it's 20-30 seconds. This can make a big difference by the end of the day.
Eliminating movements and positions from your can-do list. Many people without realizing it slowly start to eliminate movements and activities from their daily routine. Some people start to avoid stairs because their knees are achy, some avoid getting on and off the floor to clean because they're unsure of their balance. Some people avoid crouching because of issues with their knees, hips, or back. This habit is okay for short periods of time (days or a few weeks) while recovering from an injury or surgery. The problem comes when you start eliminating these movements from your routine permanently. You can lose strength, mobility, balance, and function quickly, and your list of can-do movements becomes shorter and shorter, leaving you with less overall movement and quality of life. If you find yourself doing this, consult with a Physical Therapist who can show you the ways to safely and surely incorporate these movements back into your routine again.
Crossing ankles or knees while sitting: This is okay to do for short periods of time, but over prolonged periods, this can cause rotation/torsion/twisting at your ankles, knees, and hips, and even pelvic and lower back. This can contribute to pain in your ankles, knees, hips, and back over time. Try sitting with your hips, knees, and feet aligned and feet flat on the floor.
Standing in one position for too long: Okay, so we just told you not to sit too long, but it's also not great for your body to stand in one position for prolonged periods. Our bodies respond best to a variety of positions, postures, and movements. If you use a stand-up desk or stand for work or at home a lot, consider shifting your weight from side to side while standing or placing a small step in front of you to take turns resting one foot on it, then the other every 10-15 minutes. Also, short walk breaks are good to get the body and joints moving again.
These are just a FEW of the many things NOT to do to keep your body moving and feeling great, and ways to avoid them. I hope you find this useful, or at least that it gives you some food for thought. If you're ever confused about what to do or not to do, or how your particular pain, injury, or condition may affect how you go about breaking bad habits and incorporating better habits into your daily routine, consult with your Physical Therapist! If you have any questions about this blog article, leave it in the comments below!
In good health,
Dr. Ashley Bertorelli, PT and Clinic Owner www.thegreenroomptny.com