Do you have neck pain? Your posture may be the culprit!
Did you know better posture makes you less vulnerable to re-injury and neck pain?
POSTURE AND NECK PAIN
HOLDING YOURSELF FOR ANY LENGTH of time in an abnormal unhealthy position will negatively affect the health of your spine, cause neck strain, and may also result in headaches. Bad Posture Can Trigger Neck Pain, Headaches, Arm Pain, and Hand Numbness. Your head is like a bowling ball sitting on a golf tee. If your head weren’t permanently attached, it would fall off if not balanced on top of the neck. Similarly, if your head isn’t centered on your body’s plumb line (i.e., the spine), your neck muscles have to strain to hold it up. This can lead to tension headaches. What causes your head not to be centered on the spine? Bad posture. Bad posture occurs when your head isn’t properly aligned over your spine and hips when you walk or sit. Slouching is a big contributor to bad posture.
Maintaining good posture is not limited to just sitting and standing. Holding items (even small ones) like smartphones, tablets, or laptops at chest level or in your lap causes you to look down for extended periods of time. Slouching strains not only your neck, but your spine, shoulders, wrists, and more.
If you find yourself standing or sitting for a prolonged period of time, keep your spine in as neutral a position as possible. When using your smartphone, hold it such that your neck remains neutral (hold it higher than your shoulder). When working on your laptop, do not put it on your lap because this encourages poor posture.
To combat chronic strain, which can lead to neck pain, move around as often as possible. It is important to move something every twenty minutes, no matter how proper your posture is. Movement gets the blood flowing, drains the lymph system, and breaks the cycle of extended muscle tension (a trigger for neck pain, back pain, headaches, and more).
To learn more about the negative effects of sitting and slouching, check out my books Top Seven Ways to Combat the Effects of Sitting: The Silent Killer and Combat Slouching.
Achieving Good Posture And Work Ergonomics
Check your posture every hour (if not more frequently). I advise patients to do this by standing with their back to the wall, with their heels, buttocks, shoulders, and back of head touching the wall. This helps verify that their ears and shoulders are aligned with the plumb line.
People who are chronic slouchers often find this posture check difficult to do. If you don’t make good posture a habit, then you lose the ability to sit and stand up straight. As a result, your health and appearance suffer; you will develop aches and pains, and you will have a hunched back with forward rolling shoulders.
The good news is that if you practice good posture often, you will regain your ability to sit and stand up straight. (The older you are, the longer it takes, but it is still doable.) I can’t tell you how many bent-over people who come to my office are able to improve over time.
To learn more about how to improve your posture, check out my book, Combat Slouching.
THE FOLLOWING IS ADVISABLE FOR BOTH SEATED AND STANDING WORKSTATIONS:
1. Keep your chin tucked in and head back so your ears are over your shoulders. Jutting your head forward causes your chin to tilt up so you can see what is in front of you. This posture compresses the parts in the back of your neck, including the discs between your cervical vertebrae and the nerve rootlets that run down your arms to your fingers; it also strains your posterior neck muscles. The farther your ears are in front of your plumb line (the center point of gravity), the more compression you cause. A severe slouch will compromise your whole spinal cord. Any type of pressure on your spinal cord is not good.
2. Position your monitor properly. Your eyes are “lazy” and like to tilt down about 15 degrees. If your monitor is too high, you will end up tilting your chin up so your eyes can tilt down. This too compresses the back of your neck. To combat this compression, bring your monitor to a level such that when you tilt it back 15 degrees, your eyes naturally look at the middle of the screen at a 90-degree angle. A good computer screen should be able to tilt and swivel. The surface should be reflection free.
3. Have a window to look out of periodically to exercise your eyes. If you do not have a window in your work space, find a distant object and focus on it for a few seconds every time you leave your workstation.
4. To ensure your wrist is in a neutral position, make sure the bottom of your wrist is flat.
The top of the hand will look like it is tilting up, but if you flatten the top part of your hand, you will compress the carpal tunnel,
causing irritation of the median nerve, which can result in carpal tunnel syndrome (pain and numbness in the palmar aspect of the wrist, thumb, and index and middle fingers).
5. Place your keyboard and mouse at the proper height. Your mouse and keyboard need to be at a height that allows your lower arms to be parallel to the floor. A good chair will have an adjustable height so you can make the adjustments needed for correct arm and leg positions. A good standing desk will have an adjustable height to allow for correct arm positioning.
6. Keep your upper arm vertical with your chest open and shoulders relaxed in a back and down position.
7. If you are standing, make sure your knees are soft and your feet are hip width apart. Wear comfortable shoes, and stand on a thick rubber mat.
THE FOLLOWING ARE SPECIFIC TO SEATED WORKSTATIONS:
1. Place your seat at a level that allows your knees to bend at 90 degrees and your feet to rest flat on the floor. For those who wear high heels, this is a good time to take them off. (No one will see your feet under your desk.) This is a good time to stretch your toes to help prevent bunions.
2. Make sure your lower back is supported by a lumbar support pad in the chair or a lumbar support pillow. A good chair will allow you to adjust the height and angle of the backrest to provide you with the proper support specific to your needs. If you keep a wallet or other items in your back pocket(s), make sure to take them out because they will cause a pelvic tilt that can throw your whole spine out of alignment over time.
3. Use a chair with a solid base (a five-star base if it is mobile with wheels).
4. Make sure the floor is level and flat. I have had patients who had chronic back pain, only to find out their treatments were not lasting because the floor at their workstation was not level. They were holding their rolling chair in place all day. This strained their back muscles and constantly pulled their back out of alignment.
5. Do not sit cross-legged because it twists the pelvis, causing additional strain to the spine. It also compresses venous blood return, which potentially increases your risk of developing varicose veins.
6. Give your thighs room. Your desktop should be thin for maximum thigh space, with the keyboard in front of you.
7. Get up—preferably once an hour—and move around to get your blood flowing. Even if you just perform a mini-exercise, such as marching in place or doing some squats, any movement is good. It keeps you mentally fresher throughout the day, allowing you to work more effectively. This newfound efficiency will easily compensate for the time it takes to perform such mini-exercises.
You do not have to keep suffering with neck pain.
We can help! Why Wait?
to schedule with us today!
Drummond Chiropractic, LLC
Neck Pain Specialists
565 N Walnut St
Bloomington, IN 47404
(812) 336 - 2423