Do you wake up in the morning with sore and stiff muscles? Does regular back / hip / shoulder pain stop you from going about your daily routine sometimes? A staggering number of us suffer from back and ‘sciatic’ pain which results in us popping pain killers too regularly. Have you made a pledge to be more active in 2014 but feel you’re being held back by niggling pains? Well these 5 simple solutions to muscular pain could put you on the right track to a more active lifestyle:
1. Get a sensible exercise regime – the January gym rush is usually over by February but keep it going by taking it easy in the first four weeks of your exercise sessions. Some people have a tendency to try make up for the last 12 months of inactivity in the first week of their new fitness regime. The severe muscular stiffness, pain and injury experienced from this kind of burst of sudden activity is enough to put anyone off going again. Instead, exercise in regular 30 minute sessions and build your fitness gradually. You’ll be surprised how quickly your fitness levels will improve.
2. Check your posture – sounds like a daft question but have you actually studied how you sit at your desk / stand on the train / pick up your shopping bags? Most of us would admit to having poor posture but why not do something about it? Go back to work and assess your work station – is your chair supportive enough? Is your PC in the correct position? Next time you do the shopping, think about how you lift your bags out of the car. Are you nearly pulling your arms out of their sockets with the 5 bags in each hand?Bringing your awareness to how you carry yourself and making minor adjustments to your posture will go a long way to avoiding muscle overuse injuries.
3. Find a weekly Pilates or Yoga class – I suggest Pilates to most of my clients with weak core muscles as a strong core means a strong body. Our core muscles are made up of abdominals (stomach) and back muscles – both need to be strong to work efficiently. Yoga is a fantastic class for stretching and lengthening muscles and can help with relaxation. Both Pilates and Yoga have specific breathing techniques which helps stretch the muscles that help us breathe – these get tight when we’re stressed as we tend to breathe faster and more shallow.
4. Try changing your pillows– I heard on the radio a few months ago that we should change our pillows every 6 months! Most people probably don’t change their pillows every 6 years…but seriously, your sleeping posture is very important. Ideally your spine and head should be as straight as possible in its natural alignment. Neck pain leading to shoulder pain can be caused by too many / too few / the wrong kind of pillows. I invested in a memory foam pillow from John Lewis and although it was expensive (£45) I get far less neck stiffness and pain because of it.
5. Get a regular massage – of course I’m going to say that – I’m a massage therapist! However, if you do develop muscular pain or problems with movement in your joints, it is hard to exercise or even get on with everyday life with underlying problems. By getting even a monthly massage as part of your healthier lifestyle will help your flexibility and recovery time from exercise. If you’re intending to take part in events like a 10k run / cycling / football etc then massage is essential to prevent injury. Check out this link to find out the further benefits of massage.