Ouch…what are you going to do about it?
This week I have teamed up with Steph Smith from Pea Green Physio - and we are both passionate about posture!
Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin….
We all spend so many hours of our life sitting around in an array of positions on unhelpful chairs and for prolonged periods; think about time spent flopped in front of the TV, sitting at your desk, travelling and driving. Before you know it, you’ve been in one position for 2-3 hours!
This need not be a painful experience, but the only time we really think about the consequences of our behavior is when it starts to hurt.
Doctor, Doctor, can’t you see I’m burning, burning …
When you’re scrunched up, slumped and static, your soft tissue (muscles, myofascia, tendons and ligaments) are either over-stretched and lengthened or shortened and over-worked.
The overworked muscle tissue fatigues quickly as it’s designed for short spells of activity with power to create movement. The lengthened and over-stretched tissues are holding on for dear life - they are trying to support your upper body weight while they’re stretched to the max! Your muscles work so much better in mid-range, not extremely shortened or lengthened. As a result of this, your muscles begin to develop trigger points (which are little bundles of de-oxygenated muscle contracting around a nerve end plate - when active they can refer pain patterns along the nerve path) Lactic acid builds up and blood flow becomes sluggish, which in turn makes you feel tired, sluggish and sore!
Your core muscles are much more adept at sustaining neutral posture for long periods of time as they are designed to contract at a lower level and have better endurance.
Sitting slumped in a BIG ‘C’ shape also causes pressure to build on the discs and causes their nucleus to bulge slightly, imagine a ‘jam doughnut’ if you put pressure on one side of the doughnut, the jam (or nucleus) exudes out of the other side - the same thing happens with your discs! So when you stand, and you try to get upright, you have to shift the ‘jam’ back into the middle, and this takes a few seconds to a few minutes, or not at all if you’ve gone too far and the disc has prolapsed or ‘slipped’.
You’re hip bone’s connected to your thigh bone…
need to be moved because this is how they lubricate themselves - without movement they form adhesions which causes long term stiffening of the joints.
Get up, stand up, strut your funky stuff!
What can I do about it?
In a nutshell … get moving more often! LIKE NOW!
In, out, shake it all about!
Set a timer for every 20 minutes - when it goes off stand, stretch and wiggle, then take a moment to re-set yourself into a good posture when you sit down again.
Moving combined with stretching is even better, so here are
Our super duper magic secret weapon 5 exercises
to rock your body. We will be putting them in a video on YouTube too.
What’s a helium balloon and BIG orange got to do with posture?!
1. Neck and Trapezius Stretches: Slowly move your ear down to your shoulder until you feel the stretch in the top of your shoulder, hold for 30 seconds and slowly return to upright postion, then repeat on the opposite side. Repeat 3 x each side.
2. Chin retractions: Giving yourself a double chin, draw the head back over the neck, without dropping or lifting the chin, imagine your head is a filing cabinet draw! Hold for 10 seconds, repeat x 10.
3. Pectoralis or Chest Stretch: Place your hands on your lower back and squeeze elbows in together behind you, so that you feel a pull across the front of your chest, hold for 30 secs, repeat x 3
4. Shoulder girdle position, open up the shoulders by drawing the elbows down towards the floor and open the chest by drawing the shoulders gently backwards – and try to keep them there!
5. Spine Twists: In your chair, cross your arms in front of you like a Cossack position or use the arms/back of the chair to assist with increasing the stretch, turn your upper body as if you’re turning up a spiral staircase towards the right and then the left, move only as far as your body will allow, remember to breath fully throughout this exercise! Repeat 3 x each side.
5 Top Elf Tips to Improve Your Comfort at Your Workstation!
1. We need to get you out of the ‘C-Shape Slump’ and find that ‘S’ bend that your spine loves!
Let’s start with your chair – Identify all the knobs and levers and work out what they do! We’re aiming to get you more upright, supported in your lumbar curve and balanced on your sitting bones.
2. Seat Height: Don’t start by planting your feet on the floor! You need to be at the right height in relation to your desktop - with your elbows in at your side and forearms at right angle, your forearms should be floating approx an inch above the desk. If achieving this raises your seat height so that your feet are off the floor this is when you need a foot rest.
3. Keyboard Skills: Do not plant your wrists on the desk while typing or mousing - think ‘type then rest’ not ‘rest and type’! Getting this wrong puts pressure on vulnerable nerves, blood vessels and tendons which can lead conditions such as carpel tunnel syndrome.
4. Mouse Work: Try to keep a relaxed grip, no claw grip here! Get a mouse that fits your hand size and is best suited for the type of work you are doing e.g. data entry, graphics, scrolling and reading etc. An ambidextrous mouse allows you to rest your dominant arm if you start to feel fatigue or discomfort.
5. Screen Height and Distance: Once your posture is correct (after following the set up steps above) your eye line should now be just below the top of your screen .This isn’t exact, it depends on your eye sight/glasses and type of work you are doing. In the case of laptops, use a separate mouse and keyboard so you can raise the screen to the optimal height.
Ok, I’ve done all of the above and I still hurt! What do I do now?
Come and see the Professionals!
Alison –The Safety Elf offer: Normal Price for Full Workstation Assessmentnormally £149, for Pea Green Clients ONLY £125 with Code: ‘GreenElf’
Steph and The Pea Green Physio Team – FREE 15 minute ‘Check Up’ and £10 off your first treatment with code ‘GreenElf’
So stop sitting here reading this blog and get moving!
Watch this space –we’ll soon be posting video links to top tips and demonstrating the exercises too!