YYC Health - Posture On Point

Keeping That Posture On Point


evolution picture


There are many ways to define the term evolution. A common theme to all of these definitions is change and adaptation. Although evolution is most often thought of as positive, advancing and/or forward thinking, it is sometimes the opposite.

The evolution of technology is proving detrimental to our physical well-being. Take a moment to think about what you do on a daily basis: from the minute you wake up, to the moment you rest your head at night. I can guarantee that a significant portion of your day is spent sitting plus or minus the use of technology.
Whether it is a car, computer, tablet, cell phone, TV, robot or the latest hottest Apple product, we spend most of our waking hours SITTING and using these devices. Not only are we sitting, but we are also slouching, looking down, leaning to one side with your cat/dog lying on your chest, holding your baby, sipping a pumpkin spice latte as you catch up on your emails, WHILE lying on a bean bag chair. Okay this is extreme, but you get the point.

This is by no means a stab at technology; it is integral to our way of life and future advancement. Thus, as I happily sit here on my MacBook, slouching as I cruise through my Instagram feed, I remind myself, and all of YOU (YYC CYCLE Biker Gang) to check yourself before you wreck yourself.

As September rolls on and we go back to school, back to work, back to driving and are required to sit more and for longer periods of time, our bodies will change and adapt to the posture in which we choose. Bad posture can lead to recurrent back and neck pain, headaches, chronically tight/weak muscles and joint dysfunction. It is unrealistic to eliminate sitting all together, thus certain tips and exercises can be helpful in the prevention and management of these conditions.

seated-posture

Notice the obvious differences between the picture on the left vs. the right. The left demonstrates poor seated posture. On the right (good seated posture), Dan has placed his feet flat on the floor, knees, hips and elbows are approximately at 90 degrees, shoulders are pulled back, the spine is in a neutral position and his chin is tucked back.

Postural Relief TIPS – in an office/school setting

Ensure good ALIGNMENT in chair or standing
  • When sitting, use the features of your office chair to sit up straight, aligning ears, shoulders and hips. Keep the shoulders back and use your arm rests to ensure shoulders are relaxed.
  • When standing, distribute weight evenly from left to right and keep a neutral spine
  • Avoid unbalanced positions for long periods of time such as crossing feet/legs, leaning to one side, tilting head, etc.
Take periodic breaks – MOVE
  • Stand up and walk around every 20 minutes for 5 minutes.
  • Do a few yoga flows, shoulder rolls, stretch, do jumping jacks, shadow box – this is your break, do what you love
Use ERGONOMIC AIDS – this will be a personal preference as to what works for you
  • High low office desk
  • Ergonomic office chair
  • Sit on Swiss ball – maintaining good posture of course
  • Use sit disc – rubber disc that you sit on to prevent stagnant position
  • Extra support for wrists at keyboard
  • Bluetooth headset so hands are free to multitask and shoulders/head stay level
EXERCISE!
  • Spin, lift, run, cycle, jump, climb, dance, walk etc. do all things involving movement and do them often.
Postural Relief Exercises:

The following exercises are examples of ways to gain relief from postural strain, stretch tight muscles and gain more range of motion through the joints of the spine, shoulders and neck.

Exercises were taken from “Postural Exercises” by Craig Liebenson. Journal of Bodywork & Movement Therapies (2010).

1. Vertical Foam Roll – Arms at Side

layingpic

Start on your back. Hands at your sides and palms up. Breathe in and out from your abdomen. Take 10-20 deep breaths.
What you should feel:
  • Feel your abdomen moving in with each exhalation, and out with each inhalation
  • Feel your shoulders falling back towards the floor



2. Vertical Foam Roll - Arms Overhead

layingarms

Raise your arms overhead. If possible, let the back of your hands touch the floor. If not, then lower your arms. Hold for 10-20 breaths.

What you should feel:
  • Feel your abdomen moving in with each exhalation, and out with each inhalation
  • Feel your chest and shoulders stretching
  • Note: If you feel excessive or persistent pain in the front of your shoulder(s) then lower your arms until you don’t feel discomfort.


3. Horizontal Foam Roll

horizontal
Extend your back over the foam roll. Keep your chin tucked in. Stretch and roll. Arms can be up beside the head or folded on the chest. Reps: Roll back and forth 8-10 times.

What you should feel:
  • Feel your upper back stretching backwards


Common mistake to avoid:
  • Poking your chin out


4. Upper Back Cat/Cow

catcow

In the table top position with hands and knees on the floor, round your back up (letting your head hang relaxed) and breathe in (cat). Let your chest drop down and breathe out (cow). Hold this position for another breath in and out. Reps: Perform 8-10 repetitions

What you should feel:
  • Focus on feeling your upper back and chest stretching down towards the floor
  • Feel the front of your shoulders stretching

Common mistake to avoid:
  • Shrugging your shoulders up towards your ears.


Note: If you feel excessive or persistent pain in the front of your shoulder(s) when you drop your chest down, discontinue this stretch.

Okay YYC CYCLE Bikergang – let’s keep these important points in mind when attaining our best posture possible!

In health,

amymac_copy
Dr. Amy MacKinnon, DC, BSc. HKin (Hons)
Chiropractor, ProActive Health Group
403-225-3842
(dr.amy.mackinnon@gmail.com)

References:
Liebenson, C. (2010). Postural Exercises on a Foam Roll. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies; 14; 203-205.

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