Correct Posture Key to Overall Health
Do you spend all day tapping away on a keyboard at the office only to come home and slouch in your recliner for hours while watching TV? Do your kids bend forward from the weight of their heavy backpacks? In both the home and the workplace, countless posture pitfalls await the unsuspecting.
In fact, poor posture can result from simple everyday activities -- leaning over paperwork or straining to peer at the computer screen - and the result is muscle tension, stiffness, backaches, neck cramps and fatigue.
Talk to your chiropractor about ways to alleviate the postural habits that can have a negative impact on your overall health.
"Once established, poor posture creates a chain reaction through the body," said Dr. Anderson. "Poor posture can cause stress on the joints and the muscles, draining vital energy from the body. Eventually, damage can progress beyond the musculoskeletal system to include the respiratory, circulatory and digestive systems.
""On the flip side, maintaining good posture is a way of doing things with more energy, less stress and less fatigue," he said.
What constitutes good posture? Good posture keeps all body parts balanced and supported. When standing, it should be possible to draw a straight line from the earlobe, through the shoulder, hip, knee, and into the middle of the ankle.
Because people find themselves in several positions throughout the day (sitting, standing, bending, stooping and lying down) it's important to learn how to attain good posture in everyday situations. The American Chiropractic Association and Dr. Anderson offer these suggestions:
At the Office
According to Dr. Anderson, "Today, it is not only jobs in construction or other labor-intensive fields that cause on-the-job-injuries. Typing at a computer all day can be equally stressful on a person's wrists, shoulders, neck and spine, resulting in painful impairment.
"If you work behind a computer, work to improve your sitting posture by:
- Making sure your chair fits correctly. There should be 2 inches between the front edge of the seat and the back of your knees.
- Sitting with your knees at approximately a 90-degree to 120-degree angle. Using an angled footrest to support your feet may help you sit more comfortably.
- Positioning your computer monitor so that the top of the screen is at or below eye level.
- Keeping your wrists in the neutral position while you type, not angled up or down. A wrist rest can help you to keep a more neutral wrist posture. The mousing surface or mouse pad should be close to the keyboard, so you don't have to reach or hold the arm away from the body.
- Taking frequent, short breaks from your work. Be sure to stretch your hands, arms and shoulders during your breaks.
Whether you travel for business or pleasure, take note that heavy luggage, laptops and brief bags can cause body imbalance and serious muscle strain. Movement and simple exercises can help prevent aches, pains and more serious problems when on the road. Keep the following suggestions in mind:
- Don't attempt to carry too much. Even wheeled suitcases can cause problems to the neck, shoulders and lower back.
- Consider using a back support when sitting. Using a support behind your back may reduce the risk of low-back strain, pain or injury. The widest part of the support should be between the bottom of your rib cage and your waistline.
- If you are flying, vary your position occasionally to improve circulation and avoid leg cramps. Massage legs and calves. Bring your legs in, and move your knees up and down. Prop your legs up on a book or a bag under your seat.
- Take rest breaks. Never underestimate the potential consequences of fatigue to yourself, and those you are traveling with.
Lounging and Sleeping
Sometimes the simplest of activities-such as relaxing or even sleeping-can wreak as much havoc on our bodies as spending long hours at a computer can. According to Dr. Anderson, "People spend a lot of hours sitting in chairs and recliners. The painful fact is that much of the furniture we sit in can damage our bodies. It is so important to select furniture that employs sound ergonomic principles.
"Keep the following in mind when selecting a living room chair or recliner:
- Look for furniture that fits the person who will most often sit in it. The "one-size-fits-all" approach is not a good idea when selecting furniture.
- Furniture should be easily adjustable to conform to the size and shape of each unique user.
- Find a chair that offers plenty of support to both the neck and the lumbar region (lower back).
- Purchase a portable footrest that can be moved around a room. This will help smaller people use chairs that may ordinarily be too high for them.
If you can only dream of getting a good night's sleep with that uncomfortable mattress and sagging pillow of yours, consider the following simple tips to help you select the right mattress and pillow:
- When choosing a mattress, look for one that is comfortably -and selectively-supportive. Selective support allows you to press down one area of a mattress, leaving other areas unaffected.
- Be sure to choose a mattress that is finished on both sides so you can "rotate" it, just like you would your car tires. Every few months, turn it clockwise, or upside down, so that body indentations are kept to a minimum.
- When you're purchasing a mattress, don't be embarrassed to actually lie down on it at the store to check its fit and comfort. Don't just sit on it to test it.
- Be selective when choosing a pillow. When lying on your side, your head and neck should remain level with your mid and lower spine. When lying on your back, your head and neck should remain level with your upper back and spine. In other words, your pillow should not be so thick that it causes your head and neck to be propped up or angled sharply away from your body.
For more information on the importance of correct posture or any of the tips mentioned above, call us, 802-295-9360, or arrange for a visit.