Chances are you’re reading this while leaning over a desk. Your head is tilted forward; your shoulders are curved. If you’re on a laptop or mobile device, your shoulders are slumped and you’re looking down.
Am I right? Over time this could eventually cause the natural curvature of the neck to reverse – called forward head posture or ‘text neck.’
Gadget addicts are coming down with ‘text neck’ in their droves. Increasing numbers of patients are suffering neck pain from spending too much time hunched over phones and computers. The rise of smartphones and tablet computers has fuelled the problem. The extra capability for playing games and browsing the internet on smartphones means they tend to be used for longer periods. And unlike laptops, tablet computers are often placed flat on the lap, meaning users crane their neck over to view the screen.
Forward head posture can lead to irreversible arthritic degeneration if left untreated and anyone experiencing pain should get themselves checked by a chiropractor.
You’d have thought sitting down would be good for your back. Surely taking the pressure off when you’ve been walking about gives your body a bit of a rest? Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth.
Sitting down for long periods has been shown to cause many physical problems, including back pain. This is particularly acute if you work in an office or are seated for the majority of the day.
It’s alarming how long we sit without moving at all. A study for BUPA found only one in five workers left their desk during the day to get a drink or go to the toilet (1). Which means an unbelievable 80% of people stay exactly where they are for their entire working day. All day, off their feet. Add into this equation that a lot of people then spend most of their leisure time on the sofa in front of the TV and you have a worryingly sedentary outcome. By contrast, the British Chiropractic Association recommends you don’t sit for more than 30-40 minutes at a time.
Sitting for long periods can weaken the back muscles, making it harder for your back to work properly. This isn’t a problem just for office workers and the elderly. Recent research from the British Chiropractic Association shows 40% of 16 to 34 years olds who said they had experienced back or neck pain spent the majority of their time ‘mainly sitting’, while 32% reported back pain was triggered by sitting still for long periods of time. Sitting is not only bad for your back, it has negative effects on your overall health.
Why sitting is bad for more than just your spine!
What can I do to prevent back pain caused by sitting? Aside from taking a job which requires you to be on your feet most of the day, undoing the effects of being seated for so many hours isn’t easy. Our advice is to avoid or minimise sitting as much as possible.
• Stand up while you are on the phone. Better yet, pace!
• Walk more around your house.
• Take the stairs.
• Walk after you eat lunch.
• Park your car farther away from your destination. Don’t look for that perfect spot up close.
• Take the long route!
• Get vigorous about your daily cleaning and cooking.
• Work your calves when you brush your teeth!
• Stand up and stretch when you’re at your computer a lot.
• Don’t send emails if the recipient is in walking distance. Get up, walk and talk.
• Stand up or do exercises while watching TV.
• Consider a standing workstation.
• Refill your water glass every hour.
• Reduce television and home computer use. Try recording programmes to allow you to fast forward the advertising.
1. Get Away From Your Desk – British Chiropractic Association http://www.chiropractic-uk.co.uk/get-away-from-your-desk-207-news.aspx
2. Don’t sit back – British Chiropractic Association http://www.chiropractic-uk.co.uk/dont-sit-back-196-news.aspx
3. Sitting for long periods ‘is bad for your health’ – BBC http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-19910888
4. Sitting time and all-cause mortality risk in 222,497 Australian adultshttp://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1108810
Now that spring is finally here, you’re no doubt going to spend time planting bulbs, mowing the lawn and pulling weeds.
From when the gardening season begins in spring and until the end of the summer chiropractors have an influx of patients with back pain caused by over-zealous gardening.
Gardening is surprisingly hard on the body, particularly your lower back. It’s an enjoyable activity for many, but it’s important to treat it like a workout and stretch your muscles beforehand.
Consider some of these helpful tips to help you prevent back pain and other injuries when gardening.
– Warm up before you garden. A 10 minute brisk walk and stretches for the spine and limbs are good ways to warm up.
– Practice good posture. Always bend at the knees and keep your back straight when you pick something up. Never twist your body.
– Take breaks— 15 minutes for every hour — and stretch! Rest and hydrate!
– Switch up your activities. Do a little pruning, then digging, then maybe some weeding. The key is to vary your tasks frequently so that you’re not performing any repetitive motions for a long period of time.
– When you have to get down on the ground for work, consider a kneeling pad or better yet, a kneeler with arms to help you get back up.
– Keep a container full of your tools close by when you’re on your knees. You’ll have everything within arm’s reach so there’s less getting up and down.
– Choose tools with long handles so you don’t have to bend as much.
– Hire help. For heavier jobs, it can be worth getting some help!
– End your gardening session with some gentle backward bending of your low back, a short walk and light stretching, similar to stretches done before starting.
If despite your best efforts, you end up with pain after gardening, call a chiropractor to schedule an appointment.