We're sure like us many of you will be settling down to watch this year's summer of sport, but all this time spent sat in front of the TV can have a negative impact on your health. Physiotherapist, Andrea Wright, shares her tips on how to avoid injury whilst watching sport on TV this summer.
As much as you try to avoid sport, the summer becomes a hot bed of multi-coloured shirts and boots signifying the 2014 World Cup the white garments and lush lawns of the cricket season, Wimbledon, and the multi-sports event that is the Commonwealth Games. If you plan to get stuck-in or cast the odd glance from the sofa, it's worth thinking about the amount of time you’ll spend sitting in front of the TV.
You’re probably already familiar with the negative impact that can stem from poor ergonomic exposures at work (or home). What you may not know is the effect TV viewing has on our life expectancy. If your job largely involves sitting all day, then all this sports crazed viewing could potentially add to your woes.
Unless you are one of those fans whose like a cat sat on hot coals, then you might want to read on to consider how you can make your next few months of summer sport scrutinising injury free.
Where, how and for how long you are sitting, is probably one of the most important things to consider in order to get the best support for your body. Whether you’re in a pub, at home on the sofa or sat outside watching the action on a big screen, then it’s worth taking a few moments to prepare yourself to be as comfortable as possible.
- If you’re watching from a chair, try and make sure that you’re sitting as 'square' on to the screen as possible. Often pubs/bars are crowded if there are popular teams playing. So don’t let yourself get 'jammed-up' sitting underneath a large plasma screen. Straining it backwards to see the action will not do your neck any favours. Making sure you’re far enough away from the screen and relatively square on to it will minimise any potential sustained, rotational and awkward postures.
- Changing your posture is always a winner! Avoiding sustained postural stress on the spine will be the easiest thing to do. It’s known that there’s less activation of the back stabilising muscles with passive postures. This could have implications for increased strain on the tissues leading to pain and dysfunction, particularly when you’re in social environments. The good thing is that this aspect is probably self-limiting; if you’re with a group or watching the game alone, getting the next round in and the increasing trips to the bathroom (if the drinks are flowing) ensures that there’s plenty of opportunity to change it up a bit! But even if you’re the one white wine spritzer drinker, do make sure that you get up and move around as often as is practical.
- If the weather’s set fair, you may find yourself sitting outside on the grass watching the contest in full flow upon a big screen. This can be problematic if you know you traditionally have tight hamstrings and buttock muscles. (Here's the test: sitting cross-legged on the floor, you’ll either be hanging on to your shins to stop yourself falling backwards, or completely bent forward in a 'C' shape to stay upright, putting a huge strain on your back). So why not take a small cushion(s) with you? This will raise your buttocks, so you can potentially find a more neutral spine when sitting. It won’t be too much of a hassle to carry around if you already have a picnic bag, and could save you the trouble of an aching back that might spoil your fun for the days ahead.
So there you go, a few top tips to help you to survive a healthy summer of sport. For those who get a little too carried away and do themselves a mischief, I know just the physiotherapist to sort it out.
About the Author:
Andrea Wright is a chartered physiotherapist specialising in musculoskeletal/sports rehabilitation, fully recognised by the Health Professions Council. Andrea’s extensive experience draws on the principles of yoga, mindfulness and ergonomics. She is a specialist of Fascial Releasing, a connective tissue technique that addresses the body as an integrated whole. It rebalances all the body’s systems by addressing postural malalignments, reducing pain and soft tissue dysfunction.