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Article: Monday Must: Ask An Expert: Tahira Mascarenhas

Monday Must: Ask An Expert: Tahira Mascarenhas

This week we are lucky enough to have Tahira Mascarenhas answering some community questions for us. Tahira is a registered Physiotherapist. Her goal is to get people back to their active lifestyles after an illness or injury through movement and education. She answered a couple questions down below and then did some visual aids for us on the 'gram. Hope they're as helpful to you as they are to us! 

Also, we are loving this series so much. If there's any topic or person you'd love to get advice from, please drop a suggestion in the comments! 

I work from home and I’m always sore. Are there some stretches or a better ergonomic set-up I can follow?

Let’s talk work station set-up:

1) Chair/ desk height
Things to consider when adjusting your chair/ desk height:
Wrists: Keep your wrists in a neutral or straight position. If your wrists are floating, you can get a keyboard wrist support.
Elbows/ shoulders: have your elbows at about 90 degrees or more. Adjust your armrests so that elbows can rest easily and shoulders are relaxed.
Hips: keep hips and knees in line, or knees slightly below hips.
* Your feet should be supported on the floor or on a foot stool.

2) Monitor set-up
Height: The top of your monitor should be at eye level so that you aren’t bending down to look at the screen or extending your neck to look up. If you don’t have an adjustable monitor, you can prop up your monitor on a box or stack of books.
Angle: have your monitor directly in front of you, or if you have multiple monitors, have your monitors evenly spread out around you so that you can look at them all easily without having to turn your neck too far in one direction or another.
Distance: have your monitor about an arm’s length away.
*If you have a laptop, you can set-up your laptop on a mount and use an external keyboard.

3) Back support: choose a chair with arch support. If your chair doesn’t have a built in arch support, you can purchase a lumbar support, or even use a small pillow or roll.

Movement/ Exercises

1) Most important - take regular breaks from sitting – get up and walk, do some squats at your desk, alternate between sitting and standing with a sit to stand desk
2) Chin tucks
3) “W”s
4) Hip flexor stretch

What do you recommend for people who have to take it easy due to a medical condition?

Great question!

First things first – ask your doctor or physiotherapist if there are any specific activities or movements that you shouldn’t be doing because of your medical condition.

Second – mainstream media makes us feel that the only way to remain active is to lift really heavy weights, do a HIIT workout or exercise 5 days/ week, but this just isn’t true. There are lots of ways to remain active and adjust your activity levels based on your body’s capacity.

Here are some ideas I like to keep in mind when trying to adjust activities:
1) Pace yourself and take breaks!
This may mean taking breaks while exercising, or taking breaks between your daily activities. For example, if you’re planning to exercise for 30 minutes, try not to burn all your fuel in the first half; instead, pace yourself so that you can get through the entire 30 minutes.

2) Plan your day or your week.
Spread out your “heavy” activities throughout your day or your week. Some people do this by alternating which days they do chores and which days they exercise – let’s say you want to go for a long walk or an exercise class on Monday, you do your chores on Sunday or Tuesday.

3) Prioritize
You may have a lot of really important things to do within a day, but consider which ones are the most important for you to do TODAY. Trying to do too many activities at once can really drain your energy and actually make it MORE difficult for you to get through each day.

4) Any movement is better than no movement!
Light activities, like walking, body weight exercises or stretching are great options to keep your body moving. Try to get a little bit of movement daily.

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