Updated: Jan 19
Stretching is the obvious one but in our busy lives we often forget to or we don't prioritise it enough.
Stretching for up to 30 seconds is most effective and that's why most Osteopaths, Physiotherapists, Chiropractors and personal trainers/ fitness coaches will encourage you to hold stretches for at least 30 seconds.
Over stretching can injure tissues so if you still feel your muscles are tight after a 30 stretch make sure you stop there and have a break before repeating the stretch.
Mornings and evenings may be the best time for you for your schedule to stretch. Otherwise, once a day suffices.
Always stretch after a workout and always do a 5 minute warm up preparing the muscles you're about to work.
2) Stay hydrated!
We are essentially human puddles. If 70% of our makeup is water, then our soft tissues must also be made up of water.
Dehydration is a cause for stiffness in muscles, joints and other tissues and most people are unaware of this.
Many of my new and returning Osteopathy patients that come in with acute pain and nasty flare ups are dehydrated.
The volume of water you need depends on your size, gender, activity and more, however, a basic rule of thumb is if your pee is clear, you're hydrated. If it's pale yellow, or darker...get sipping!
Find it difficult to drink enough in a day?
Download the free drink water app or pop an alarm on your phone every hour to remind you. Keep a 1L bottle with you at all times for ease.
3) Eat more fruit and vegetables. As well as being packed with tonnes of micronutrients and antioxidants, many fruit and vegetables are packed with water.
Watermelon, grapes, celery, berries and tomatoes are some examples of fruit and vegetables loaded with water so adding these to your diet is an easy way to increase your hydration levels.
Furthermore, fruit and vegetables high in potassium such as avocados, sweet potatoes and bananas and those high in magnesium such as spinach and bananas may help with muscle relaxation and muscle recovery (see more about magnesium below).
4) Magnesium supplementation! (Consult a registered dietician first).
Studies show magnesium oil/sprays and supplements or using Epsom salts containing magnesium sulphate help to promote muscle relaxation and muscle recovery as magnesium is a salt.
This demonstrates that having a bath with Epsom salts, using magnesium sprays after workouts and taking daily supplements may therefore help to keep you supple.
P.s. please avoid using salts if you have high blood pressure.
5) Electrolyte therapy!
Just like ingesting salts via diet and supplementation, oral rehydration therapy can help to keep you hydrated and therefore supple, as well as aiding muscle recovery after exercise. Many sports drinks contain electrolytes for active people to consume during and after exercise. Take in moderation only, and keep an eye out for high sugar content.
6) Keep moving!
Most of my Osteopathy patients are desk workers due to being sedentary. The most common complaint Osteopaths see is low back pain, followed by neck and shoulder pain, then other joint pain such as knee pain or ankle pain may follow.
Being sedentary for long periods not only has been proven to increase the chance of heart disease but also increases the likelihood of back pain. When we sit, all our weight and pressure moves to the low back. The lower part of the low back has the most weight bearing discs, so these are most likely to be compressed and be the cause of pain. Low back discs are more likely than anywhere else in the spine to become herniated with prolonged periods of being sedentary without adequate care.
Muscles get tight and achy and joints get super stiff when you're sat down for too long and a lot of this tightness in muscles is caused by muscles weakness that accumulates over time when a person is sedentary. Strength training and keeping mobile can help to counter balance some of the negative weakening effects of being sedentary but it's important to be consistent.
Pop an alarm or timer on your phone to encourage you to move around every 20-30 minutes. Walk around, have a stetch, or even better go for a short walk in your breaks. It might do your mind some good to have a break from screens and any tech too.
Osteopaths are trained in ergonomics and we recommend the use of standing desks for patients to help prevent stiffness . However, while standing puts less compression on the spine than sitting does, it's important to realise that no fixed position for long is healthy for our bodies. This is why the majority of standing desks allow you to alternate sitting with standing and I would recommend no more than 20 mins of standing or 20 minutes of sitting at this type of desk to prevent stiffness and pain.
There you have it folks. I hope that was helpful!
Stay happy and healthy 😊.
Osteopaths are healthcare professionals and therefore our role is to promote health and wellbeing. If you have any further questions or would like to know if or how seeing an Osteopath could help you, please don't hesitate to get in touch.
Registered Osteopath & Fitness coach
Sports massage practitioner
My OsteoPATH to Wellness
Berrylands, Surbiton, Kingston