OUCH! I just got up from my desk after a long writing session, and all of my joints feel tense and are cracking from the sudden movement. I guess I just sat too long in one attitude. Do you know that feeling?
I don't have to tell my fellow writers or readers how sitting for long periods can make our muscles and joints sore and tight. But we just can't help it! We forget to move from our spot because we become so engrossed in what we're reading or writing. Costly solutions like treadmills and other indoor exercise equipment are popular to help combat our aches and pains. Still, I'd like to offer some alternative, more economical, pain-relief ideas.
One of the easiest tools to keep a body moving is the Pomodoro Technique. It's a time management method developed by Francesco Cirillo in the 1980s to improve productivity. It uses a timer to break work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks. Each period is known as a Pomodoro (= Italian for "tomato") after the tomato-shaped kitchen timer Mr. Cirillo used as a university student. Since then, individuals have also used it as a reminder to step away from their desks frequently for a few minutes.
But that begs the question: What should you do during those breaks, besides the obvious, like going to the bathroom or grabbing a water bottle and a snack from the refrigerator?
Let's start with what not to do. Don't remain in your chair to watch videos, play video games, or check social media! After all, the idea is to get away from that desk and move around. Maybe even go outside and get some fresh air.
My massage therapist recently recommended some simple stretching exercises to me when she noticed my persistent problems in my upper back. Since I started doing those several times a day, my shoulders hurt less. She also recommended I walk daily for half an hour, which I do anyway since I have three dogs that need their exercise.
So, what about longer breaks? I didn't include them in this post because we all know there's more to life than just writing and reading. I like to go for a morning walk for about 30 minutes (in my humble opinion, fresh air is the best thing in the world to clear the head), a 20-minute kettlebell workout in the afternoons, supplemented by a 20-minute yoga session when I feel really stressed.
I know some really love their standing desks and platforms, but, personally, I can't work like that. I have to sit down. Not to mention that standing really isn't a substitute for actual movement. I need to walk and work out every day and take short periodic breaks. To each their own, I always say. Figure out what works best for you, and adjust your routine as necessary!
And remember to stay hydrated! I know I tend to forget about drinking water when I'm in the midst of writing/reading, and I know I'm not the only one to do so. However, it is vital to keep the fluids coming. And I don't mean my beloved cup of good coffee, or tea, fruit juice, or soda pops. Those don't really count. So, I try hard to remember to get up from my desk periodically and grab a bottle of water. Sometimes I even set a reminder on my mobile phone just as an added prompt.
Before I bring this article to a close, there's one more thing I wanted to touch upon, and that is snacking. I know that thousands of articles have been written about proper diet and nutrition, so I'll refrain from diving too deeply into that aspect of wellness. But snacking can quickly become a mindless obsession to stave off the monotony of our chosen profession or pastime. Unfortunately, constant caloric intake harms our health, especially if we consume giant amounts of empty calories and can also add some unwanted pounds.
Feeling good in our skin definitely requires a deliberate look at all aspects of our lifestyle. So, take a closer look at your daily habits if you feel off. You may find things you can modify to help feel better and make your time sitting in your chair more enjoyable and productive.
These are just some strategies that help me move around with ease, but my list is definitely not all-inclusive. Everyone is different, and there's no one-size-fits-all solution. So what has helped you alleviate some of those aches and pains associated with prolonged sitting? I'd love to hear what works for you!
Piper is the award-winning author of The Country Girl Empress series. When she isn't busy typing on her computer, she can be found chasing after her furry children or holding on tightly to a good cup of coffee. Follow her on LinkedIn, Facebook, Medium, and Goodreads.
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