Tight muscles can pull the spine out of alignment creating altered movement patterns. When you have altered movement patterns your body doesn’t move the way it was intended to. This can then create more issues. It’s a vicious cycle.
The pieces of the puzzle were finally starting to come together. Things were making sense. After we talked for a while about Vocal Cord Dysfunction my ENT went to get a scope and then did a quick procedure right in his office to confirm the diagnosis. While it wasn’t fun having this tube run up my nose and down my throat, I about jumped for joy when he confirmed that I indeed have Vocal Cord Dysfunction. I know that sounds weird, but now that I knew what was causing the symptoms, I could take action. My ENT referred me to a speech pathologist to work on ways to treat the symptoms.
The last few weeks have been quite eye-opening to me. I received a diagnosis that made so much sense, but seemed kind of silly at the same time. Why? Because surely one of the medical professionals I had seen over the past 10 years would have diagnosed this, right? Because reading about a condition on the internet, sitting there as your chin drops and your mouth is wide open because the blog post just described every symptom you have been experiencing, and then telling your doctor seems kind of nuts, right? Nope. This really happened.
Vocal Cord Dysfunction. That’s the official diagnosis. Before I get deeper into what that means, let’s back up a little bit.
Do you sit at a desk all day long for work? Do you drive for work? If so, you have probably experienced some of the aches and pains that go along with sitting for long periods of time. You know the ones I'm talking about...neck pain/stiffness, back pain/stiffness, stiffness all over. I don't know about you, but when I stand up after sitting for more than 30-45 minutes I feel like I need help stretching out my hip flexors and low back.
So what can be done about this? Quitting our jobs isn't an option, so let's look at some ways to help ease the discomfort we experience when sitting for long periods of time.
1. Set a timer/alarm on your phone to remind you to get up and move around. Recently I've started to use timers/alarms for all kinds of things because once I'm focused on something, everything else is out of mind. The length of time you choose is up to you and how your body responds to sitting. Some people may need to get up more frequently than others. If you have a "smart" device...FitBit, Garmin, Apple Watch, etc, many have alerts you can set to remind you to get up and move around at least once an hour.
2. Learn some stretches you can do at your desk or in your office. Coworkers staring at you or making fun of you? Tell them to enjoy their stiff/achy muscles or join you. Check out these stretching videos, as many can be done at your desk. Again, use the timer on your phone if you need a reminder. Siri and Alexa are just waiting for you to ask them to do something.
3. Take your breaks and lunch breaks. I know, I know, we are all busy, but if you don't take care of yourself now, you may end up missing more work down the road. Move around during these breaks. Go for a walk with a friend/coworker. Get others involved in moving more...perhaps a contest/challenge at work?
4. Walk to talk to coworkers instead of using email, messaging, or calling them. Take the long way to their desk/office.
5. Drink lots of water. Not only will this keep you hydrated, but you will have to get up to fill your water bottle and also to use the restroom.
BONUS TIP: If you drive for work, you can apply most of these to your day as well.
Do you have any tips to add?
About sixteen years ago our family received a membership to our local recreation center as a Christmas gift. I had asked for the gift, so it wasn’t unwanted. I had big plans to get up early and hit the gym before I had to take Jon to daycare and then get to work. I was going to start my shiny, sparkly, brand new routine and stick to it! We went in early January to get our membership ID cards and then we never went back. I’m not kidding! Not one day in the entire 365 days of that year did we step foot back in that recreation center. What happened to my grand plan? I have no idea. It was not until several years later that exercise became a daily part of my routine, my life. I can’t change the past, so I will not dwell on what could have been, but I can move forward. I wanted to share this with you because I want you to know that I have been there. I struggled to make exercise a part of my routine just like many of you do. Many days it is still a struggle.
Reminder: Breathe. Stay calm. Be kind to yourself. The new year is just a few days away. For many, this means a giant upheaval of stagnant routines by diving headfirst into new fitness and nutrition programs. While change is necessary to change, it is important to not adopt too many new things at once. When we do that, things become overwhelming and then we quit. And when we quit, we don’t just quit one or two of the new routines. We quit them all. Trust me when I say there is nothing magic about January 1st. Any day or any month can be the time that you make the choice to take that first step. You can read more about getting a jump-start on the new year in my last newsletter.