Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Sit, Slide & Lean

Tired of work?  Does work, school or your day make your shoulders sore, tight and achy?  Many people carry their stress in their shoulders.  Are you tired of end of the day aches and pains?  Well let’s do something about that!

We tend to be creatures of habit.  What are your habits at work, in the classroom, or at home? These habits continually stress the muscles, ligaments and joints to repetitively produce the habit. One thing most people enjoy is a seat.  Sitting is not a good position for your body and specifically, your spine.   Taking a seat shortens the hip flexors, bends the spine forward, and places strain on the low back, upper back and neck.  Furthermore practically every action we do when sitting involves reaching in front of us; to type, grab the phone, move the mouse, or grab a drink from our water bottle.

As we begin the second half of the school/work year, let’s review a good position for your desk or work station.  It’s really as simple as “Sit, Slide & Lean” (1).

Sit. First, prior to sitting brace your core and drive the hips back to find the chair, as opposed to crashing into it with a thud, gently locate it with your tush. The chair height should allow 90 degree angles for both the knee and the hips.  The feet remain on the floor.

Slide.  This means sliding your rear end all the way to the back of the chair, so that your butt and back make a corner out the intersection between the back of the chair and the base of the chair. When we leave a gap between our back and the back of the chair, we round our back in order to “fit” into the chair.  This worsens as we tire of holding ourselves fully upright.   This places a tremendous of load, specifically flexion, on the lumbar spine, which may irritate discs. Furthermore it allows ligaments to creep, which is a deformation or stretching of the ligaments. Finally, the muscles such as the hip flexors stay in a shortened and unnatural position for many hours.

Lean.  Lean your back into the chair.  This allows you to maintain a neutral spine. Leaning back allows you to maintain proper lumbar, thoracic and cervical curves and good posture.   Your head will rest naturally over your shoulders, reducing stress on your upper back.   From this position you can maintain a relaxed and comfortable “base position” to accomplish your daily greatness.

So take a minute to step outside of yourself in order to look at how you are holding yourself while you are sitting down.  What would it look like if you could see yourself?  Now try “Sit, Slide and Lean”.  Comfortable, relaxed and confident.  Now look at your most frequent places that you sit… your desk, office, kitchen table, comfy chair, etc and apply the above to your environment. Finally, get moving with ladder reaches.  If you have any questions, give me a call, I’m here to help you.  My goal is to help you move well, live well. 

(1) Dr. William Brady,DC- Personal communication &

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Snorkeling, Posture, and Neck Pains

So we're a couple of weeks into 2013 - how are those New Year's resolutions holding up?

On vacation this past week I was recharging for the coming year, and snorkeling provided a great lesson to be shared with others. No, not that more fish hang out near you, (almost follow you) if you wear the natural sunscreen, but that it’s easy to lose sight of our Movement Rx activities in the “busy-ness” of life.   Personally this hit home when I noticed neck pain after spending time chasing fish around the reef.

Pictured: My nemesis!

Now I know you are thinking, “Well I ain’t snorkeling, I’m working at my computer, hoping I don’t have to shovel, so I can stop reading." Not so fast. The positions are functionally very similar, and when we sit, drive or eat we tend to slouch (Movement Rx- Sit, Slide, & Lean) bringing our head forward, or into flexion.  In order to keep our eyes up on the screen, we raise our upper neck, extending the upper cervical spine.  This overloads the upper neck muscles & joints as well as the upper thoracic region. We need to consistently remind ourselves to avoid overloading this area to avoid both neck pain and headaches. 

So as we prepare for our day, we have to prepare our bodies for the activities that we are going to do repeatedly, such as sit, look forward and do things in front of us.  Instead of focusing on toast and coffee, I encourage to revise your resolutions and recommit to your Movement Rx for 2013. For me this includes heavy doses (3 sets x10 reps) of the neck exercise, the Glory V and the reverse lunge. 2-5 minutes out of your day and you're done. If you can’t recall your Movement Rx stop in to review them.  In the meantime I've posted a pic of the neck exercise below. Happy New Year!