Every day in my work as a massage therapist, I see people with aches and pains that could be avoided through some simple lifestyle and dietary changes! I have put together a list of 10 easy things you can do to prevent aches and pains today.
When we over use our muscles, for example during repetitive action or exercise, knots can occur which may eventually lead to pain. This can be counteracted through stretching. This is especially important after going to the gym: make sure you stretch each muscle that you have used. But it’s also important after any other type of muscle use, including walking and cycling, or even after sitting hunched over your desk.
Try to build stretching into your daily routine. For example by doing a few stretches when you get up in the morning or after work. Even doing 10 minutes a day will help. If you aren’t sure how to stretch, try checking out Yoga with Adrienne for easy 10 minute beginner sessions online for free.
This is my personal favourite, I find doing Pilates even for a few minutes each morning really helps me to keep away the aches and pains. As well as stretching and elongating your muscles, Pilates strengthens your core, and when your core is strong then your other muscles will be too. You could try joining a local class, or check out the free videos available on the NHS Website to get you started.
3. Keep Moving
We evolved to be active and a sedentary lifestyle can lead to muscles stiffening up, eventually leading to pain. You could join an exercise class or take up a sport; even walking and household chores can be a good way to keep active. Most smart phones have a step counter on them, set yourself a goal for a number of steps you want to achieve a day. Could you try parking your car a bit further away or getting off the bus a stop early to get up your step count?
4. Keep Hydrated
When we consider three quarters of our muscle mass is actually made out of water we can start to appreciate how important staying hydrated is to keep away muscle aches! On average we need around 2 litres of water a day. You can use herbal teas towards your intake but not caffeinated tea or coffee as they are dehydrating, as are sugary drinks and alcohol. Keep a water bottle with you at all times to remind you to drink regularly and if you find water boring, try flavouring it with lemon, lime, mint or cucumber.
5. Get a Decent Desk Set Up and Good Posture!
Now that working from home is more common, I get a lot of massage clients with aches and pains after hunching over a laptop all day. Please try to ensure your desk space is set up properly. If you work for a company, ask them to carry out a display screen risk assessment or get a free copy yourself from the Health and Safety Executive.
A decent desk set up is only good if you adopt the correct posture while sitting at it! Watch your posture at other times too and avoid slouching while sitting at the dinner table or watching TV.
6. Have a Healthy Diet
High amounts of meat, sugar and processed foods create inflammation in the body which will increase the likelihood of suffering from aches and pains. Instead aim for an anti-inflammatory diet with lots of fresh vegetables and high fibre pulses and grains. Omega-3 essential fatty acids help to reduce inflammation in the body. The main dietary source is oily fish (such as mackerel or sardines), but you can also include flax seed, chia seeds and walnuts, and/or contact me about a suitable supplement.
7. Get a Rucksack
Another thing I commonly see in my massage clients, especially the female ones, is carrying a heavy handbag on one shoulder. I highly recommend replacing your handbag with a rucksack, you can get some really nice ones nowadays so you don’t need to compromise on style. It will make a big difference to have the load spread evenly across both shoulders. And if you can try to minimise the weight at the same time, that will be better still.
When we are stressed or angry, our muscles tighten up. But when we relax in our minds, our whole body relaxes, and studies have found this can alleviate pain. My favourite relaxation technique is Mindfulness. I recommend the Mindfulness Association App for guided sessions to get you started.
9. Keep Warm
When we are cold, this is another way our muscles can tighten up, and here in Scotland that can be an issue even in summer! A hot bath is great for soothing muscle aches and pains, and you could add in Epsom Salts: these are a natural form of magnesium which is absorbed by the skin and further promotes muscle relaxation. Other alternatives are saunas and steam rooms or heat blankets and lamps.
10. Get a Massage!
One of the most common things my massage clients say to me is, “I need to do this more often!” I always agree, because getting a regular massage, rather than waiting until the pain occurs, is a really good way to keep on top of knots and keep the muscles relaxed.
To find out more about massage therapies I offer in Edinburgh contact me.