It’s undeniable. Whether at work or at play, most of us spend a lot of time sitting. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) recently concluded that less than half of all American (45%) spends even 20 minutes walking each day.
There are many reasons that contribute to our sedentary lifestyle, chief among them our long work weeks (47 hours on average for full-time employees) and our fascination with technology such as computers, tablets, and electronic games.
We know that a sedentary lifestyle is a major contributor to hearth disease, obesity, hypertension, breast cancer and more. But it’s also a large contributing factor to back and neck pain.
Frequently looking down at documents, books or tablets can lead to postural changes. Even something as common as texting can, over time, lead to heads that are thrust forward and rounded shoulders. And it’s not just newer technologies that encourage bad posture. Hobbies such as beading, scrapbooking, and even sewing and quilting can add to our back and neck pain.
Our posture problems have often been present for years before we begin to feel pain.
If you find yourself slouching, sitting cross-legged, or standing while leaning on one leg, it’s time to pay attention. Also note if your chin extends past the chest while reading or when engaged in sedentary hobbies.
Simple tips to improve posture
1. When you’re seated at your desk or at home, make sure both feet are on the floor. It’s a good idea to have the seat height adjusted so that your bent legs form a 90 degree angle. Your ankles should be in front of your knees and chair seat.
2. Take frequent stretch breaks. Get up, and move around often.
3. When standing, keep your feet approximately a shoulder’s width apart and balance your weight between the balls of your feet and your heels.
Helpful tips for sleeping
4. Try to sleep on a supportive mattress. This doesn’t mean you must buy a extra firm mattress, simply that the understructure of the mattress must have provide good support.
5. Avoid sleeping on your stomach.
6. Side sleepers may benefit by putting a pillow between their legs. Proper pillow height is also important. A pillow that is too fluffy may raise the neck too high, while one that is too low may bend the head downward. Either extreme can throw the back out of alignment.
7. If you prefer to sleep on your back, a pillow positioned under your thighs can ease pressure on the back.
Simple exercises to perform at home or at work
- Baby spine – This modified yoga pose is easy to perform and is most effective when done every day. Simply lie on the floor with your stomach facing downward. Next rise up on your elbows and cradle your head in your heads. Start off by holding this pose for 10 minutes each morning and night. Gradually build up to 20 or 30 minutes sessions. This is easy to do while watching television. This pose will greatly improve flexibility when done routinely.
- Shoulder Squeeze – This simple exercise can be performed while seated. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and hold the position for 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat often throughout the day to bring your awareness to your upper back and to keep your seated posture aligned.
- Pelvic Tilts – Begin by lying on the floor with your feet flat. Next move your pelvis upward by engaging your lower abdominal muscles. Hold this position for a few seconds. Try for a set of 10 exercises. This exercise can also be performed in a chair. As your strength improves, aim for 50 to 100 repetitions per day.
Many of our patients report that simply by following these simple tips and by adding these 3 easy exercises to their daily routines, their strength and flexibility begin to return. They also report fewer episodes of serious back pain.
We encourage you to give these tips and exercises a try. Then let us know what you think!
For acute or chronic problems, our medically directed chiropractic clinic in Garland, TX offers a wide range of services including chiropractic care, exercise rehab and therapeutic massage. We also specialize in joint pain treatment including osteoarthritis of the knees.
Over the last decade Dr. James Mixon has successfully treated thousands of patients suffering from back pain, neck pain and stiff, achy joints. If you’d like more information on our treatment options, please contact us at (972) 840-2520.