Updated: Sep 1, 2020
Ask yourself how much travel you are currently doing for the job you love? Most senior positions may involve over 20 hours of travel per week. Whether that is through driving, train travel or flying. That's a lot of strain we put our bodies through on a regular basis. It got me thinking about how long my body could continue to endure this.
I used to work as a personal trainer and sports massage therapist. Some of the facts we know are that being in a seated position, for prolonged periods of time, can have a serious gravitational effect on the spine; rounding the shoulders, tilting and rotating the hips, not to mention the decreased efficiency of the lymphatic system, which can only be stimulated through bodily movement and gravity. Add all that together and you've got a whole lot of conditions waiting to happen.
I have never been as flexible as a contortionist but what surprised me was when I started to find it difficult to bend to tie a shoe lace, turn over in bed or even climb the stairs as easily as I used to. Being only in my 30's, I knew something had to change. I have started to take positive steps to overcome the inevitable changes through excessive travel.
Here are some top tips to help you too:
Take up yoga - The age old practice will work though a range of postures to help realign your body, as well as helping you to reduce the level of cortisol in your body, caused through stress. I would recommend a class at least once a week to give instructional advice. If you can't commit to more than that, then YouTube has many 30 min videos that can be done at home or in your hotel room. Inverted poses also help with lymphatic drainage.
Read on your stomach - Most people sit for long periods of time with a rounded lower back so reading on your stomach now and again whilst resting on your arms, chest lifted, can help to strengthen the lower back and stretch the abdominal muscles. It sounds easy enough although you may find that after just 5 mins your body starts to ache so aim to build up to 30 mins.
Swimming - Water helps the body to relax and takes the pressure off the spine, aiding re-alignment. Take a dip!
Get a sports massage (yes, even if you don't play sports) - Highly trained massage therapists will assess your body and know what specific muscles to work on to get your body back to tip top condition. For example massaging the back and shoulder will only decrease symptoms in many cases so that pain reoccurs in the neck and shoulder, when in fact the tight chest muscles will be the root cause. Same for the lower back, tight hip flexors will pull on the lower parts of the spine so rubbing the back wont be enough unless the hip flexors /quadriceps are released too.
Feet up - Really up! As I mentioned earlier The Lymphatic System cannot pump itself, so a quick way to relieve fluid build up and drain your legs is to lie for 15 - 30 mins on your back with your legs high up, resting on the wall. This is great if you are also on your feet all day.
I hope this has been some food for thought. I for one will not be stopped by the necessary travel for the role I love. I have seen far too many people laid up with body conditions that could have been prevented. There is that age old saying "Make time for health now or make time for sickness later"
Please let me know if you have other tips or have experienced similar.