What’s better when sick: movement or bed rest?

What’s better when sick: movement or bed rest?

What's better when sick: movement or bed rest?
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At the time of writing this, I’d just come back from a short 4-day break in Malta (great weather and scenery) and because planes, trains and automobiles were involved in the journey there and back, I’ve been exposed to germs from countless air conditioning units.At the time of writing this, I’d just come back from a short 4-day break in Malta (great weather and scenery) and because planes, trains and automobiles were involved in the journey there and back, I’ve been exposed to germs from countless air conditioning units.

To be fair, it was first time this year I’d been unwell *touches wood*, so I can’t really complain, eh?

If you haven’t known me long, I can tell you now, whenever I get sick – it always – without a doubt – affects my voice.

I teach 10+ pregnancy, postnatal and mainstream Beginners and Improvers Pilates classes per week, and up to 6 personal training clients too.

Exposure to germs is part of my job being in contact with people and babies (which seem to just be tiny little carriers of big loads of germs, huh?).

The cold I had was mild: a bit of a sniffle, build up of phlegm, slightly groggy head, and a feeling of fatigue.

It’s nothing I can’t handle.  I’ll soldier on, you know.

However, rather than choosing to “sleep myself well”, this time I decided to put some of my biomechanics knowledge to the test to see whether movement…

…or more specifically, the right types of movement, to the right areas of the body…

…would actually be more beneficial than bed rest alone.

There are lymph node sites or rather “clusters” of lymph glands at various points in your body, these being the main areas:

  • Groin / hips
  • Jaw line (where the Doctor checks your swollen glands), and
  • Armpits

It made sense to me to experiment a little here by stretching, releasing and increasing the flow of blood to these main sites.

Put simply, if you keep the areas around these sites moving, it improves the efficiency of your immune system.

Mobility = improving movement at the joint.

Motility = improving the flow of fluid.

So, it’s both mobility and motility we’re going for here.

NECK MOBILISATION

My neck is my tight spot, stemming from staring endlessly at computer screens in a past life.

It’s only natural that I’m going to suffer with ear, nose and throat infections as a result.

But, keeping my neck mobile, and free of tension has made all of the difference to my voice this time round, so that’s my first win.

arm exercises
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CHEST OPENING

With a big “cluster” of nodes located in your arm pits, you will definitely want to add some chest opening exercises into your sickness program.

Arm circles, scissor arms, pec flies, windmills, open door, chalk circles, floor angels – all of these exercises I do in my pregnancy Pilates, postnatal fitness classes and Beginners and Improvers Pilates sessions are perfect for increasing mobility (and thereby motility) to the affected area.

I did variations of all of these exercises several times a day over a 48-hour period, and oh man – I felt so much better.

GROIN / HIP STRETCHING

groin exercises
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When you’re under the weather, you can actually physically feel a significant “cluster” of nodes that have become inflamed in the groin area.

I became acutely aware of these (they almost felt tender to the touch), as I did a tonne of hip opening exercises, and after only a few minutes switching and cycling through various mobility exercises, the discomfort has dissipated.

Am I suggesting you keep moving the next time you’re sick?  Well, yes and no.  I’m not a doctor and you know your body best.

If you think about the position your body naturally retracts itself into when you’re sick – the fetal position, you might want to ask yourself: is blood flow encouraged to the neck, hips and chest here, or inhibited…?

I’ve never NOT felt better after gentle movement or going for a walk, so if you’re not sick enough to not move, I’d say it’s ok, and it probably helps.

I cover all of these and many other aspects of muscle and body mechanics in my Pregnancy Pilates and buggy workout classes, and mainstream Beginners and Improvers Pilates sessions.

So, if you’re after a class that will give you more than just a workout, but an education – I aim to go over and beyond this in my instruction.

And, if you’re poorly reading this now – get well soon!

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Claire Mockridge
Claire Mockridge is an Ante/Postnatal Fitness Expert, Pilates Teacher and Train-the-Trainer. She's worked with over 950 pregnant and postnatal women and enjoys empowering and educating her clients on safe and effective exercise. Claire is a Health Columnist for the Nottingham Evening Post, a Health Expert for BBC Radio Nottingham, regularly writes for the national press and is the Winner of Theo Paphitis' Small Business Sunday Award.

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