We all spend so much time on computers, laptops, ipads, phones etc. these days it is hardly surprising that there are more and more people are seeking help for their back, neck, shoulder, elbow or wrist pains.
Did you know the head can weigh up to 42lbs? If the head is held in a forward position over an electrical device for an extended amount of time consider the damage being done to the neck and back.
Having a correct posture is not just about trying to stand up straight, your muscles need to be in balance in order to hold the body and spine in alignment. Looking at how you sit at work, at home and in the car is an important part of the solution.
The spine is a natural ‘S’ shape, when the lower back is supported the upper back naturally completes the ‘S’ shape. There are many ideas on back support when seated on the market from a new chair or lumbar support cushion – padded or netted, for example:
http://www.the-comfortable-seat.com/ergonomics/ Suppliers of ergonomic equipment
‘Ergonomics’ comes from two Greek words - ‘ergon’ meaning work and ‘nomos’ meaning laws. We use the word to describe the relationship between people and their posture in the work environment. The principles of ergonomics need to be applied to all areas of life not just at work.
Some important points to consider:
- Support of the lower back
- Head straight so the shoulders are relaxed by your side
- The top of the monitor at eye level or slightly below, raise a laptop or similar device at an angle towards you.
- The forearms should be able to rest comfortably on the table/desk and wrists straight. If you do a lot of typing you might want to consider a cushioned mouse mat.
- Hips pushed back in the chair so the lower back is not rounded.
- Ensure the height of the chair is correct for you in relation to your table or desk.
- Use a foot rest if necessary.
- Knees should not be higher than your pelvis as this affects the psoas –core posture muscle. Watch for this in the car, a thin seat cushion may be necessary.
A good pillow is important. There is no easy answer to this one as everyone has different tastes. Do consider how you sleep – on your side, back or front or a combination of all positions. The thickness of the pillow depends on how you prefer to sleep – the space between your head and the edge of your shoulder is greater than the back of your neck. Personally I prefer two – an ordinary pillow (feather) and a thin puffy one I can shape according to my position.
Do make sure if you lie on your shoulder that your shoulder is straight. I see a lot of frozen shoulders in my work, many may have been caused by sleeping on rounded shoulders night after night, slowly damaging the joint and surrounding tissues. I have had this specialist pillow recommended to me recently though I haven’t tried it myself.
Stretching and Exercise
When we are seated for a long time we start to stiffen up. Our muscles are surrounded and in part made of fascia, which is a very important web type substance. Scientific research has found to effectively resolve pain it is the fascia we need to be looking at, not the muscular system. Through inactivity the fascia begins to knot together, without stretching the fascia gets tougher and causes pain. Think of the cat that instinctively stretches on waking or when inactive, following this example stretching in the morning and every half hour if you work at a desk, will help keep your fascia supple, fluid and pain free.
Exercise helps to keep the back supported and the muscles strong. Walking is good though do not neglect the upper body. Exercise that helps support the posture include:
If you play golf ensure you do something else as well. Exclusive golf playing with the swing on only one side repeatedly will bring your body out of balance. Otherwise find a good Bowen Therapist!
As you can see there are many aspects of misalignment that contribute to bad posture. The Bowen Technique is very well known for improving posture and helping with pain relief, by releasing the fascia effectively but gently.
Written by Maxine Crinall.
If you would like more information or to book in with Mary Lou for The Bowen Technique please call 07501 017195.