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Ask an Exercise Physiologist: neck pain and morning workouts

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Ask an EP is here to help with all your health and wellness questions and challenges: lifestyle, wellness, pain, health.

Do you have a burning health and wellness question? Now is your chance.

Every week we will pick a bunch of questions, and help you solve your burning query. If we share our problems, we are more likely to solve them.

Let’s get started.

“Hi Kirra, I have been experiencing a stiff and sore neck with very little mobility for the past three months. Just over the last two days, I have been very lightheaded with a localised pain at the base of my skull!

I have been seeing a chiropractor who gives temporary relief but the condition persists. Any suggestions?”

– Sharon, 64

Hey Sharon,

Have your computer hours changed over the past 3-5 months due to COVID? I’d recommend starting a “computer and phone posture diary”—to keep a track of your hours. You’ll be surprised…and may find some patterns.

Often, localised pain can be caused by poor static posture and poor postural strength-endurance.

Here are three hacks to help you avoid posture problems, and improve your neck mobility:

SUBSTITUTE SITTING WITH AN ACTIVITY

  • Balance on one leg and do some chin tucks, while talking on the phone.
  • Switch to a standing workstation, and take a break every 25 minutes to have a couple of specific neck stretches.
  • Sit on a Swiss Ball and do shoulder blade squeezes—this will encourage you to sit up straight and use your postural muscles.
  • Schedule a walking catch-up, rather than sitting in a coffee shop!

BE ORGANISED: PLAN YOUR SCHEDULE THE NIGHT BEFORE

Look at your diary—where are your stationary meetings, is there some flexibility in your day?

Could you squeeze in a quick 15-minute upper limb strengthening workout between commitments? Schedule in your activity breaks the way you would schedule in a meeting.

Be organised, write it down, and make it happen.

OFFICE FRIENDLY MOVEMENTS EVERY HOUR (OR TWO)

Can you do 5-10 wall push-ups every hour and a ten seconds of wall squats? Set a reminder on your computer/phone!  It’s the little regular movements that help your postural neck pain.

“Hi Kirra, do you have a morning exercise routine? I have little kids and can’t seem to motivate myself to exercise in the morning (but I know it would be good for me!). Any tips would be greatly appreciated!”

– Clare, 41

Hey Clare,

My morning routine is the lifesaving non-negotiable in my crazy world.

The trick is to choose a morning routine that is an instant “feel good”, is time-efficient, realistic and repeatable. We’ve designed this simple morning movement planner for you, welcome to print it off, as a reminder (print the PDF here).

Here are my go-to’s (depending on how time-poor I am!):

  • 25 minute run, with two mins of conscious breathwork up the top of Mt Painter (breathe in for four seconds, and breathe out for five seconds)
  • 15 minute run (5 minute warm-up, 5 minutes at 80%, 5 minutes easy); then two minutes cold/hot/cold shower (maybe work up to 2 minutes—start with 20 seconds!).
  • 20-minute silent walk
  • 15 minute at-home core circuit to relaxing music (my favourite session is below!)
  • Yoga (SOULution Yoga is my second home!!)
  • 30 minute Super Advanced H.I.T Hydrotherapy session or Hydrolates (Aquatic Pilates)

Here’s a 15-minute HerWorkout Morning Workout—you’re most welcome to add it to your morning ritual:

1) Knee Hovers
2) Side plank on Knees
3) Tabletop lower-limb cycling
4) Pilates spine twist
5) Lumbar Extensions

You can print the PDF here, and IGTV clip is dropping into Instagram later today.

If you’re fit and healthy I’d recommend doing the five exercises 10-12 repetitions, and three sets. If your fitness needs nurturing, try for six repetitions, and two sets, three days a week, depending on how much time you have to start your day.

Great questions everyone. I’ll answer more next week!

Want to ask your own question?

We are all better together! Do you have a burning health and wellness question?

Fill out our Google Form, or email us your health and wellbeing questions, to either: editor@hercanberra.com.au or kirra@capitalhydrotherapy.com.au.

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