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What about the rest of the day?

I have told this story before, but a few years ago, I was on holiday with Katrina trekking in the Swiss Alps. The sole of the boot on my left foot came adrift . It was so loose that I couldn’t continue walking without risk of tripping. So I took the boot off and walked with one boot on and just a thick sock on the other foot. We had to walk a steep 3 km to get back down the mountain. The imbalance in the legs due to only wearing one boot caused pain in one of my knees. It became quite bad.

It is surprising that a small imbalance in your body can be the cause of much injury.  To try to correct for imbalance it is important to build core muscle strength, not only in the legs but also in the hips and upper body. Every day on my way into work I do 40 minutes of strength exercises in the gym. Clearly I believe that it does me good.

So if 40 minutes in the gym each morning is so important, just how important is what I do for the next 8 to 10 hours of driving to work and spending time at the office?  Absolutely everything we do in life, driving, sitting, standing, walking, using the mobile phone etc., can undo all of that good achieved in the gym.  In driving it is quite probable that your car is automatic requiring the use of the right leg only. So as you drive your legs are not in balance. A surprising number of people actually drive with one hand only, placing it centrally on top of the steering wheel causing imbalance as they drive. Using cruise control whenever possible avoids the need to keep your right foot on the accelerator and is also a very good way of avoiding inadvertently speeding. Keeping both hands on the steering wheel helps to maintain body balance.

At work your PC keyboard and screen should be placed centrally in front of you. Avoid having them to one side, forcing you to frequently twist your body. It is probably that you always use the same hand when answering the phone. A hands free set is a great way to avoid this, but isn’t very practical if you are in a shared office.

Sitting in one position for longer than 20 minutes at a time is damaging. You need to get up for a few seconds every 20 minutes. One of the ways of doing this is getting up to get a coffee as opposed to having someone bring it to you. If you need to talk to someone who is in close proximity, visit them rather than use the phone or e-mailing them. Not only is it good to get up, it is often more productive. If you frequently need to print documents then it is best to use a remote network printer so that you have to leave your seat to pick up the documents. Don’t eat sandwiches at your desk, visit a canteen. If you have to visit an office on another floor use the stairs instead of a lift. Another good idea is to have standing meetings. Some companies have introduced high circular tables for small meetings. The attendees stand at the meeting table as opposed to sitting. This also ensures that nobody falls asleep at the meeting.

Whilst standing you should have your weight evenly balanced on each foot, legs slightly apart. Avoid standing with one knee slightly bent. Whilst walking you should avoid having a bag over one shoulder. Norrie Williamson always carries things around in a ruck sack firmly placed across both shoulders. If you carry a lap top regularly then purchase a case which can be worn like a ruck sack rather than a shoulder case. If you shop on a daily bases for provisions then use a small rucksack to carry the shopping back to the car / residence. Incidentally, shopping daily and buying only what you need for the next 24 hours avoids wastage associated with bulk buying and is ultimately less costly.

If you really must use a one shoulder bag then alternate between shoulders.

Bad life style habits cause imbalance and lead to repetitive strain injury and uneconomical running style.