5 Movement (Rx) Snacks Leaders can Use for Neck and Back Pain Relief
Dr. Theresa went live on LinkedIn on January 10, 2023 to discuss an article recently published on NPR about movement snacks titled, “Got neck and back pain? Break up your work day with these 5 exercises for relief.” She shared her favorite “movement snacks” for leaders to decrease neck and back pain for optimal function and performance, including some her favorites that NPR missed!
Key Takeaways from Dr. T’s LIVE
#1 We need to lead ourselves first, especially when it comes to taking care of our bodies.
Anybody who leads others counts as a leader in our eyes. This includes mothers, fathers, community leaders, healthcare providers, mentors, and more. But, as skilled as we may be in leading others, we must remember to lead ourselves first and take ownership when it comes to our health and life. When we are feeling physically and mentally well, we can work through complex problems more quickly, communicate more effectively, and lead others from a place of calm confidence rather than stressed-out insecurity. When we practice consistency in our health behaviors, we not only reap the physical and mental benefits for ourselves, but we become more resilient against the hard hits that inevitably come with being in charge of others.
#2 The breath is an often neglected movement pattern that can be harnessed to decrease stress.
Dr. T described breath as a remote control for the brain and body. It can turn stress levels up or down. Think about how you feel when you hyperventilate: big inhales, fast exhales creates a sensation of lightheadedness, unrest, and anxiety. Now think about slow, deep inhales and long exhales. This creates a sense of calm in our body. These effects are mediated by the “vagus nerve,” a master controller of our “rest and digest” (parasympathetic) system. Since we have voluntary control of our breathing, we can use long exhales to create calm in stressful situations, and to create relaxation in our tight neck and back muscles.
Dr. T took some time in the video to teach proper breathing mechanics, including a drill for “box breathing” where you can use your hands to give you feedback on if you’re breathing correctly.
#3 Desk exercises will work, but standing exercises are even better.
There are a ton of desk exercises for back and neck pain out there, but as physical therapists, we know that one of the main causes of stiffness in desk workers is simply lack of blood flow (along with stress). Our tissues get their nutrition from bloodflow, but when we’re not moving for hours at a time, those neck and back muscles get thirsty and communicate that via sensations of tightness or even pain! So, rather than sitting, stand up and move!
In the video, Dr. T takes us through some low equipment standing exercises to get your blood flowing, muscles warm, and joints loosened up.