There’s no question we are living in some challenging times. This pandemic has brought on additional stress for everyone and placed a great amount of psychological and physical weight on the shoulders of all of us. So how do we manage? How do we balance it all? How do we take care of ourselves through these uncertain times?
I’ve always said, we need to give back to the body what we demand of it. This couldn’t be more true now, in these challenging times. Whether we are spending more time working from home, sitting at the computer, or balancing kids schooling from home while trying to perform at our own jobs, or just feeling the stress and uncertainties of job security, financial responsibilities or the health of ourselves and loved ones, it all takes its toll on us both mentally and physically. We are demanding so much more of our bodies now than ever before. In the past, I’ve written, using the analogy of our bodies like our vehicle, and while I’m not a huge fan of comparing the body to a car, truck or SUV, the analogy does fit. In order for our vehicle to run properly and get us from point A to point B, we have to take care of it. It requires oil changes, new tires, new brakes, fluids, gas, and so much more to keep it running. And we ensure this maintenance is kept up, weekly, monthly, and annually. We budget for it and we keep it running so it can get us where we need to go. So, why not do the same for your number one mode of transportation and mobility, your body. Why not ensure that the maintenance and reliability of your body is kept up. We can’t trade in our bodies and upgrade to a new one once it hits a certain number of kilometers or a certain age. We have to maintain it. We have to take care of it. So how do we do that? How does Massage Therapy fit in to all of this?
All of that time sitting in front of the computer, working from home, is placing strain on your postural muscles, those muscles activated to keep your back and neck erect while you sit. It’s placing strain on your eyes staring at a screen all day, and on your circulation into the legs and feet. Our bodies thrive off mobility, so the more we demand of them to be stationary for extended periods of time, the greater the strain placed on the structures that hold a certain position for those increased lengths of time. Those small, yet mighty muscles at the base of skull are being over worked in order to maintain that fixed position as we sit for longer lengths of time. Add this to the eye strain required to look at that computer screen and you’ve got a recipe for an increase in headaches and decreased sleep patterns. While seated for those extended periods of time, the circulation traveling through the hips, into the legs and feet is being compromised. This can decrease the health of the soft tissue structures into the legs, thus increasing the risk of cramping in the calves and feet, along with the risk of circulatory problems down the road. These are just a few of the physiological effects the body can have with this increase in stationary positioning while working from home on the computer.
So, getting back to giving back to the body what you demand of it; think about the last time you gave yourself an hour to heal, recover, de-stress, or fix some of those nagging aches or pains that have been building up over the past several weeks or months. Then ask yourself, what are you doing to fix those aches and pains, decrease that stress level? How are you making that a priority in your life? What are you doing to change those patterns and improve your overall well-being?
This is where I come in, the Registered Massage Therapist. Massage Therapy is proven to improve circulation (therefore lowering blood pressure levels), aid in the repair of damaged soft tissue structures, decrease the frequency and intensity of headaches, improve the health and flexibility throughout our muscles, and lower the overall stress levels in our bodies. Just 45 minutes or 1 hour on the table can greatly help to counter-act all the previously mentioned demands we are placing on our bodies. Anxiety, insomnia, depression, all conditions prevalent in these challenging times, and massage therapy is working to combat these conditions every day. This is how you can give back to the body what you demand out of it. Much like those oil changes for the car, this is how you can ensure that your body will keep up through the day to day challenges and maintain its’ performance throughout whatever journey you set out for it, whatever tasks need to be accomplished throughout your day. Put yourself on the treatment table and make the maintenance of your body a priority.
While I’ve sat here writing this, I’ve gotten up for 3 mobility breaks myself, as my body has told me to get up and move. I can feel the tension developing through my back and neck as I sit here, fixed in one position. I need to listen to what my body is telling me, and it’s telling me that it isn’t happy in this position for this prolonged amount of time. My next step will be to book myself in for a massage therapy treatment to ensure I’m maintaining my health throughout my own challenges from one day to the next.
These mobility breaks are key for anyone sitting or standing in one place for an extended period of time. At a minimum I recommend getting up every 45 minutes to walk, do some trunk rotations, neck rotations, and add some gentle stretching through the hips, back and neck in order to get that circulation going and give the body what it’s asking for…..movement. That bread from the screen time can go a long way both physically and mentally. Take 10 to 15 minutes each break to include this mobility at the very least when considering what you can give back to your body throughout your day.
This pandemic has presented plenty of stresses for each of us. As Registered Massage Therapists, we are working through this pandemic as essential healthcare providers. We are here, abiding by the guidelines and precautions set out through our governing body, the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario, so that everyone is kept safe and healthy through these times. This means that you can still take that time for yourself, book that treatment and begin to give back the demands you’ve asked of your body, both mentally and physically over the past several months. While there may by guidelines to follow and screening procedures to be completed, the treatment on the table remains the same and the client care you’ll receive is still at the highest standard.
Don’t wait for things to build up any longer. There are many things we don’t have control over these days, many of which can cause a great deal of stress. Control the things you can, and taking care of your health, both physically and mentally, should be high on the priority list of things you can control. There’s no better time to get yourself booked in for that Massage Therapy treatment that your body is asking for. I continue to hear the phrase, ‘take care of yourselves and each other’ and this is one way you can start to take care of yourself. You can’t begin to help others if you aren’t taking care of yourself first.
Yours in health and fitness,
Dave Kervin, RMT, ART Provider
Optimal Health Physiotherapy
193 Dalhousie St., Peterborough, ON, K9J 2M1