Thursday, July 19, 2012

Get off that chair!

A relative of mine (I’m not revealing which one) called the other day saying she was in pain and wanted my advice. Oh, I just wrote “she” – well for those of you who know my family, you now have a 50% clue, if you’re really trying to figure out who called.  Anyway, this relative told me she’d just spent hours in the car and more hours sitting at the computer and could barely stand up, that the space where her thigh meets her torso and going into her groin was really tight. It hurt too much to straighten her leg and she was having trouble walking. I had a good feeling about what was going on and offered some suggestions: Ice, stretch, and get off your chair.
When a person sits the muscles that allow you to flex your hip, to be in that seated position, are contracted. Shortened. And after time, after hours of driving or seated at the computer or in front of the television they need to be lengthened. If not, eventually you will have discomfort that will lead to pain. And that pain in front of your body will lead to more pain in your lower back. (I’ll bet some of you just got up to stand right now!)

I know when I spend a great deal of time at the computer, which I do when I get into writing my stories, I have to remind myself to stand up, to get away from my chair. It’s easy to let 2-3 hours go by when I’m into a good scene without even realizing the time has passed. But, my back certainly will! So, I stand and do a back extension (Dec. 13, 2011 blog-post) and a hip flexor stretch which is shown below. You can't see my pelvic tilt, but I am performing one. My hand is placed at the spot where you should feel the stretch. The pelvic tilt is the key to this stretch. All you have to do is contract your buttocks and tuck it under - tuck your tail between your legs! You'll feel the stretch right where your thigh meets your torso.
Go to my blog-post from Nov. 22, 2011 titled Fitness Tip- Neutral Spine for the full details to perform a safe and effective pelvic tilt.

Wondering what that toy is on the floor behind me? It's my grandson's for his cars.  And grandchildren are the perfect reason to keep in shape.

Now, back to my relative. How did she fare with my suggestion to do this stretch a few times a day? A few hours after her first phone call, my phone rang again. She was feeling much better. I hadn't expected such quick results, but she started doing the stretch while we were on the phone (when she first called) and did them every twenty minutes for the next few hours. She was determined. Her pain had lessened. It hadn't gone away completely; she would need to continue stretching, icing, and getting up from her desk to walk around. But thankfully, my suggestion helped. That always makes me feel good.

If you're a sitter, please get up from your chair every half hour. Stretch, lean backwards, get a drink of water, walk. Your body will applaud you. Or, if you must stay at the computer for hours on end, get a stand-up desk, one that doesn't require a chair. Personally, I wouldn't like that, but Sandra, a character in my novel, FLOURISH, does. Here's an excerpt from FLOURISH related to that. In  this scene, Liz is showing Bobbi the architect's design for their new winery building, the one Liz has dreamed of for years, as Sandra enters. Enjoy!

Sandra walked into the kitchen.  “Remember Liz,” she said, “I want a high desk.”  She noticed Liz’s pale face.  “What’s wrong? Do you feel okay?”
“Yeah, I’m fine,” Liz answered, waving away Sandra’s concern.  “You can design your own desk if you want.”  She knew Sandra hated being seated for any length of time and preferred a desk where she could stand and work, as well as sit.  “Whatever you want.”
 “I’ll stain all the desks and chairs, too” Sandra offered.  “I’ll even paint the office if you want.  I love doing that kind of stuff.”
Pointing to another place on the architect’s drawing, Liz told the women about the temperature controlled warehouse.  “This is just what we’ve talked about,” she said.   “We’ll have a store house right on premises. We don’t have to drive to Rosetto anymore.”  For years they stored their wine in a rented basement several miles away.  Twice a day, they’d heft 75 cases of wine onto the back of a pickup truck and make the drive, a time consuming, exhausting endeavor.  “We’re too big for that now.
 “You know, we’ve grown nearly ten-fold in the twenty-six years we’ve been together. It’s fantastic and you made it happen,” she said nodding at both Bobbi and Sandra. As they protested, saying Liz was the one who kept it all going, she had a moment to catch her breath. “We’re producing 35,000 gallons a year now,” she continued ignoring the knife-like stabs in her rib-cage. “Quite a growth from the 4,000 we produced back in ’85.  Bobbi, remember how we thought 10-12,000 gallons a year would be fabulous?” Liz grabbed her stomach and doubled over. 
“What’s wrong?” Bobbi and Sandra shouted at the same time. 
“I don’t feel well.  It feels like a cleaver stabbing right under my breast. I’m nauseous.”

Find out what happens to Liz when FLOURISH gets published. No date yet. I'll let you know when I know.

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