1) Carrying Items on the Same Side
Ex: Groceries, children, purses and yes... even murses.
There are so many of us that just grab our bags or children without even thinking and 9/10 it's on the same side you always pick them up with. We only think about changing sides if our go to side fatigues, is just simply out of commission or you are actually conscious about your body's imbalances.
Solution: Challenge yourself to switch it up more frequently or even do the most feared part about groceries.... make more than one trip! (Insert dramatic music here)
2) Climbing Stairs with the Same Leg
There are three kinds of stair climbers in the world.
1- You love them and take them any chance they get.
2- You take them occasionally when you feel like being active or the elevator is unavailable.
3- Never ever take the stairs unless there is an actual emergency.
You will wait an extra 15 minutes just to take the elevator. But no matter which kind of person you are when it comes to stairs, we all just do it mindlessly and probably use the same starting leg every time. This can lead to a muscle imbalance between each side and can even start to cause some imbalances in the glutes and hips as well. The more imbalances we have, the more likely we are to injure ourselves or have random aches and pains.
Solution: Take the stairs! Be conscious of what leg you start with and every flight switch it up or start using your non-dominant leg more. The more you are thinking about it the more likely you are to remember your weak side. Even if there’s only 4 stairs, switch it up!
3) Driving in Comfort
Yep that’s right, that thing we all do almost every day is one of the biggest causes of imbalances or tightness. When we go for long drives we try to make it as comfortable as possible by moving our bodies around and sitting in weird positions. Here are a few positions that are the biggest culprits.
- Leaning on the middle console. When we are in a vehicle that has a higher middle console it just feels so nice to lean over to the right and relax. This is causing our body to be in a leaned position for an extended length of time, putting stress on our spine and potentially our shoulder as well.
- Putting our foot on the door pocket or seat. Our hip flexors and low back taking a beating every day with the amount of sitting we do, so why are we adding to it by sitting in a more flexed position in the car. When you put your leg up you are now adding a lean, spinal side bend and extra hip flexion which adds a lot of extra pressure on the spine and shortens the muscles that cross the front of the hip. For a short period of time this isn’t too damaging but when done for a large amount of time on long drives, the extra pressure on the spine and musculature can add up.
- Slouching! On those longer drives we tend to relax and sink right into our seat. The problem with this is you eventually will start to slouch and let your shoulders roll forward and your low back rounds. For some people this can feel like a comfortable and natural position but your body actually hates it and it can cause problems later down the road with posture and potential pain.
Solution: You will be happy to hear that there are simple solutions to all of these problems. Be more aware of your body position on long drives! This is as simple as thinking about your posture every 20-30 minutes and when you do lean or put your foot up just be aware of how long you are in that position. We can’t change overnight but we can be more aware and if posture while driving is your problem then you can use a small rolled up towel and throw it between the seat and your low back. This is a good tactile reminder to be checking periodically on how much you slouch in your drive.
In conclusion the big theme between all of these habits is just simply being aware of your body and how you are using it. If you are starting to get random aches and pains think about if this is something you do quite often then start to change things up. Be adventurous and start using your non-dominant hand or foot. Keep your body guessing by alternating side or just treating it really nice by having a good posture. Apply these tips and keep all of our friends with OCD and our bodies happy.