In our last post we did a deep dive on how sitting for long periods of time can lead to Forward Head Posture and cause a wide variety of painful challenges like neck pain, shoulder stiffness, headaches, low back pain, and possibly even numbness and tingling.
Let’s discuss some simple, easy-to-apply solutions to reduce the stress associated with excessive sitting. Below are five tips to help you feel better fast.
1. Raise Your Monitor Position
This tip may seem like common sense, but if you look around, so many people work on laptop computers, or monitors with the stand height positioned to be below your eye level. So this suggestion, of raising your monitor position, often has the most powerful positive effect.
I suggest elevating your monitor, possibly with several books stacked underneath the base of your monitor, so that your eye level is at the center point of the monitor. You may have to lower your chair as well. You want your chin slightly elevated so you are not looking down at all. If anything, you want to be looking up a bit.
This posture will support the ideal curve in your neck and minimize muscle contraction in your shoulders and neck regions. At first, this elevated position may not be very comfortable, but with time this position will feel more natural as your body adapts to the optimal posture.
Raising your monitor is one of the most important actions you can take to minimize the damage that sitting for long hours can cause to your health.
This is rule number one: elevate your monitor and stop looking down for long periods of time.
2. Take Stretch Breaks
It’s a good idea to take breaks, to move and stretch your spine in specific ways on a regular basis throughout your workday. Sitting in a fixed position for excessive periods of time can cause stress and tension to build up in your upper back, shoulders, and neck region. Motion is life, so take breaks as often as possible to move and stretch your muscles.
Here are a couple of stretches and exercises you can do to mobilize your cervical spine (neck region), and to reduce the stress and tension you are experiencing.
Give them a try! We are confident you will feel less discomfort throughout your workday, have more energy, and be more productive.
If you have been sitting for a while, take a break now! Stretch and move your body for a short while, before you continue on with the next three tips.
3. Breathe Deep
Your experience of mental and emotional stress certainly plays a role in the amount of pain and discomfort you are feeling. When we are under stress, often we are in a physical state of inflammation, and pain tends to flare up more often. Stressed out people have more pain and other health problems.
In order to reduce the emotional stress that you experience, I recommend to do breathing exercises periodically throughout your day.
Breathing slowly, deeply, and with a calm intention will stimulate the rest and relaxation centers in your nerve system and can lead a state of deep peacefulness. Experiencing a relaxed state and managing your mental stress periodically throughout your day will help you to feel better and be more resourceful in your life.
Breathe deep and feel your stress melt away!
4. Stay Hydrated
What you eat and drink can have a profound effect on how you feel as well. Eliminate sweetened drinks like soda, tea, etc., and reduce your coffee intake. Sugary, sweetened drinks will elevate your blood sugar, cause you to gain weight, and can promote inflammation throughout your body.
Do your best to drink at least one liter of water per day. Stay hydrated to reduce stress and have more energy throughout your day.
5. Alternate Hands with Your Mouse
Chances are your right hand is your dominant hand and you primarily manoeuvre the mouse of your computer with your dominant hand. This may seem a little odd, but even the repetitive stress and strain of continually using the mouse of your computer can add up. Small forces applied over a long period of time to one side of your body can have a large effect on your muscles and spinal joints.
I recommend that you switch sides and use your non-dominant hand every hour or so to reduce the stress you experience on one side of your body. Maybe set an alarm on your phone to remind yourself to alternate the hand with which you use your mouse. You will feel a little clumsy at first, but your spine will thank you for the effort.
Again, using your mouse may seem like a small issue, but it can really build up.
What about Laptop Computers?
If you have to work primarily from a laptop, this can pose a particular problem for your posture and body position. The challenge with a laptop is that the monitor and keyboard of the laptop are connected. This forces the user to hunch forward to type and view the monitor at the same time.
Laptops are one of the worse devices for your posture and spinal health because it is almost impossible to work on a laptop and have good, stress-free posture.
Here’s a good workaround if you are forced to use a laptop regularly:
- Use an external keyboard and mouse instead of the keyboard and trackpad that are attached to the laptop.
- Elevate the laptop, possibly with a stack of books, so you can sit up straight and your eye level is at the center of the monitor.
Essentially, use the laptop as a monitor only. It may feel like a hassle, especially if you’re on the move for work, but there are so many slim and light options for laptops as well as Bluetooth keyboards and mouse/track pads now. But your body will thank you in the long run for the additional effort!
These tips will likely help, but they may not be enough…
Simply removing the postural stress of looking down for long periods of time at your phone and computer is a good start, but often this not enough to fully resolve the pain and symptoms associated with this posture problem. Altering your habits like this can help, but in most cases you may be only treating the symptom not correcting the cause.
For most people, completely removing the postural stress is not a viable option, because they work at a computer or need to be very responsive on their phones. It’s very difficult to not look down throughout your day. It’s an unfortunate fact for many people, this postural stress is a requirement of their lives.
What is the Chiropractic Approach?
In most cases, posture problems like Forward Head Posture are caused by physical distortions in your spine. Your body has likely adapted to the physical stress of your life by changing. Your muscles have been stretched or tightened in specific ways.Your joints have possibly changed position. And your ligaments and support structures have likely adapted as well. Posture problems are a sign of a deeper, physical distortion pattern(s) in your spinal structure. These are known as subluxations.
Chiropractic Offers a Physical Solution
Chiropractic offers a physical solution, which is the most effective approach for posture related problems.
If you have a physical problem, an attempted chemical remedy like a pain killer, muscle relaxant, or anti-inflammatory jab, will not correct the cause. The chemical approach may, at best, numb the pain signals temporarily. But the drug cannot correct the physical, structural cause. And it is very likely that the pain will come back or get worse once the chemicals wear off. You need a physical solution, and that is what chiropractic offers.
There really is no other choice.
Three Step Solution
There are three main things you need to do to correct a misalignment in your spine and the resultant bad posture associated with the spinal misalignment.
- You need to be adjusted in a very specific way.
- You need to do specific stretches and exercises regularly to support the adjustments.
- You need to break the bad habits in your life that are stressing your spine.
Align Your Spine, Maximize Your Life
Your spine has got to be healthy in order for you to have 100% vitality. Your spine directly affects the performance of your nervous system. Chiropractors are specialists in improving your spine alignment and restoring your nervous system to optimal function.
Nerve supply is life supply!
Schedule a spinal checkup today to see if chiropractic is right for you.