It seems like 75% of my work day is spent at my desk. I edit photos, respond to emails, answer the phone, and do most of the same things a majority of our clients do at work. Then I go out to my photo shoots and lift my camera over and over with my right arm. For years I also carried a camera bag that hung over my right shoulder. A year and a half ago my doctor told me that my severe back pain was caused by Nonstructural Scoliosis. I had a muscle imbalance and the muscles on the right side of my back were overworked and bulging. They had actually pulled and pushed my spine into a curve. My hips angled about 30 degrees to the left at all times. Changes had to be made. Some were simple and others were harder, but I know that everyone who has a desk job or a photography job can adopt one or two to make their life better. So... here they are.
- I get up and stretch after about 15 or 20 minutes at my desk. Nothing major, just touch my toes and do a couple of side bends.
- I don't "Group like tasks" quite so much anymore. It's great for my productivity, but bad for my body. If something needs to be filed, I get up and file it right away. The important part of that sentence being I GET UP.
- I replaced my desk chair with an exercise ball. To be honest this one didn't last long because the floors aren't level in our 116 year old building. It's charming until you sit down to realize your chair has rolled to a different location. A ball chair is in the works though.
- I drink more water. Muscles are more likely to spasm if you're not hydrated.
- I make an effort to lift things with my left arm, or to distribute weigh evenly on both sides.
- I replaced my shoulder sling camera bag with a Tenba backpack. Now the weight of my equipment is evenly distributed.
- I asked for help until I got stronger. I admitted a weakness and asked someone to go with me on shoots that required heavy lifting for a few months.
- I set aside 20 minutes every morning to stretch my body and strengthen my core. If you have a diagnosed issue like I did, make sure you're doing exercises that your doctor or physical therapist recommends. I did this for about six months before adding anything else. A few good options are listed here.
- I started taking daily bike rides. Riding a bike requires you to balance your body.
- Once I was physically ready, I started taking yoga classes at Samadhi Yoga Center. This one has been what has kept me on track. There's no emphasis on calories burned, and I don't feel like it's a competition. I enjoy it, so I'll actually make an effort to put it on my schedule 2-3 times a week. Now that I'm healthier I'm challenging myself to accomplish poses that require balance or core strength.
- Lastly, I started going to a balance class at All About U Fitness. This one is so far out of my comfort zone it's ridiculous. You have to wear real shoes. There are weights involved. In all honesty, I didn't intentionally start this one. I accidentally went to it thinking it was a yoga class. But they were super nice and let me do the class barefoot the first time. Once I got used to it, it was really fun. I am determined that I will be able to balance on that exercise ball on my knees soon.
After a year and a half of hard work, I have undone some of the damage I've caused to my own body over the last ten years. I can stand up straight. I can lift both arms straight up over my head. I can pick up my kids. I can play soccer with my kids. I can do a headstand, and I'm close to being able to hold a handstand (My record is currently 4 seconds). I've gained 6 pounds of muscle, and I can't remember the last time I needed a muscle relaxer. Best of all, I'm setting a healthy example for my kids.
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