The current Covid climate has again bought on increased demand for home-friendly workouts. For anyone who has done even the slightest of searching, it is clear that there is no shortage of follow-along workouts and programs online.
What is more difficult, however, is guidance on how to replace activities of daily living (ADLs) that slip through the cracks when we spend our days cooped up at home. Things as simple as our walks to and from the bus stop, rearranging heavier items, or frequent postural changes that come with a more structured day are lost, and although they are seemingly insignificant, these ADLs play a big part in our overall physical health. They are first and foremost injury indicators - when an ADL such as completing your regular walk or standing up from a chair becomes difficult, we know that something is wrong. Additionally, ADLs ensure that we maintain a baseline level of mobility even if we are not actively exercising - a key element to living a full and healthy life.
Bear in mind that this is not a workout routine. Below is a simple follow-along guide to staying mobile when WFH (or lockdown) has other plans. No equipment? No problem! This guide is 100% equipment-free and is as easy to implement into your week as it is to climb a flight of stairs.
Get those steps in
The Australian Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines recommend an average of 10,000 steps a day. In one go, this would take around 1.5 hours (depending on individual factors) but these steps can absolutely be accumulated throughout the course of the day. During a normal day out and about, you’d be surprised how easy it is to reach this amount, although when we spend the day inside it proves more difficult. Increase your step count by taking walks before work or after dinner, walk to the grocery store or try taking the stairs instead of using elevators.
A great way to keep your steps and motivation up during a lockdown is to try and keep your routine as normal as possible. Get up at a normal time, get dressed (maybe not the suit, but whatever makes you feel good) and complete the walking part of your commute. If you usually walk to the bus stop - do it, and then home again before you sit down and start working. You can do the same at the end of the day for your homeward commute.
Integral to avoiding injury due to a sedentary lifestyle is ensuring that our joints stay mobile. If our joints are able to move freely within their ranges of motion the likelihood of pain arising from sitting for long periods or from fatigue when we do move is decreased. Mobility work is different to stretching because it is joint-centric, not muscle-centric. This means we are focusing on the way that certain bones move in relation to each other, rather than the way our muscles stretch, pull and move. Consider joints throughout the entire body: your fingers, wrists, elbows, neck, shoulders, ribs, hips, knees, ankles, toes… the list goes on! Have a look at our article here for details on a few mobility exercises.
Here are some simple mobility movements to include in your daily routine;
Yogi squat for hips: with feet hip-distance or wider, squat your bottom down as close to the floor as possible (as if you are squatting over a drop toilet - remember those days of travel?) Use your elbows to press your knees away from each other
Wrist circles and finger curls: make a fist and move them in circular motions 10 times in each direction. Then open and close your fingers to their extremities 20 times, moving slowly and making sure every joint in the finger curls and uncurls.
Here’s where you can focus on conditioning your muscles. Stretching once your joints are mobile is a great way to ensure you aren’t going to move into territory that may cause injury from overstretching. Instead of sticking to a regimented stretch sequence, scan your body and try to identify areas that are feeling tight or neglected. A great way to scan the body is to split it into four sections: anterior (front), posterior (back), and lateral (two sides).
Anterior chain stretches:
Lie flat on your back with a rolled-up towel under where a bra strap would run to open out the chest. Open your arms perpendicular to your body
Cobra stretch - Lie on your front with your hands flat at chest level. Push your torso up gently
Glute bridge holds - Lie on your back, knees bent up, and feet flat on the floor. Without gripping your glutes, raise your hips and hold for 20 seconds, lower and repeat
Posterior chain stretches:
Standing forward fold/seated forward fold
Tuck knees to chest and roll gently back and forth along the length of the spine
Seated sideways reaches, alternating sides - reach up and over your head with an outstretched arm
Supine lying twist - Lie on your back with legs straight. Lift your left knee to tabletop position and move the knee towards the floor on your right side
Standing forward fold with one foot crossed over the other (stretch for the outer lower leg)
Self Massage is possible without equipment, light pressure strokes along tight or sore muscles - especially after a warm shower or bath can make a significant difference. If you do have a spikey ball, trigger point ball or even a tennis ball you can also provide relief to tight pecs, which will in turn help relieve a sore upper back. You can use our video on self release to help guide you.
Implementing the above routine takes no more than 15 minutes, and with consistency, will influence the state of your joints and soft tissue hugely. Give it a go on your next rest day!