‘With the world becoming increasingly reliant on technology, for many people, working longer hours, leaning over laptops, iPads and other utilities has become a day-to-day ‘normality.’ The progression of technology is fantastic in many ways; however the same cannot be said for its impact on our spinal health’ says Dr. Martin Knight. ‘Sitting at desks and leaning over laptops for hours on end are well-known causes of back, neck and shoulder pain. People spend hours sitting hunched over and increasingly less time moving around. This means that many important muscle groups are not being worked and consequently associated symptoms such as deteriorated back strength; poor posture; musculature problems; internal organ movement; poor blood circulation; and poor lymphatic function are becoming common problems; when, in reality, they needn’t be. Poor posture, for example, might seem insignificant; however posture is extremely important. How our body holds itself up not only has an aesthetic impact on how we look and how confident we feel, but it also has a major impact on the positioning of our muscles and organs. We don’t want them to become deformed or squished together. If this happens frequently, it can lead to worse problems over time.'
'To put it into perspective, when you travel by plane you are advised to exercise during the flight to encourage blood circulation and to avoid incurring Deep Vein Thrombosis – something that can be caused by sitting in the same position for long periods of time. If this is the case for one plane journey, it is easy to see why it is important to practice similar exercises in the office, as this is the place where you put your body at risk daily. You don’t want to get Repetitive Strain Injury or worse now, do you?!’
Here are 6 tips to help you to improve your posture and manage good spinal health during your working day:
1. Work Your Abs
The abdominal muscles play a key role in supporting the lower back and giving it stability. Poorly defined abdominal muscles and excess fat around your stomach prohibit your back from receiving sufficient support and, consequently, will pull the back into an arched position, resulting in poor posture and back problems.
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2. Strengthen Your Supporting Muscle Groups, Not Just Your Back
The posture of the whole spine needs to be addressed starting with the neck and working downwards. You need to regain control and strength of the abdominal muscles, diaphragm and pelvic floor, and the deep muscles in the back of the back so that the pelvis’ rotation can return to normal. The hamstrings also need to be stretched and the gait must be narrowed.
Here are some drills to help you:
Stretching The Hamstrings
Lumbar Spinal Drills
Suffering from persisting back problems? I recommend visiting a Chartered Physiotherapist for supervised Muscle Balance Physiotherapy. Everybody’s back and posture is different and sometimes specific sections of the spine may be overworking adjacent segments. Over time, these become weakened and hinge so will need to be freed up and dynamically stabilized with the help of a professional in order to alleviate the associated back problems.
2. Use A Mouse Instead Of Your Laptop’s Touch Pad
Using a touchpad is bad for your neck and shoulders. It means you have to move your hands inwards and across your body to use it and this can make your shoulders and neck very tight. Using a mouse will ensure that your arms are in a healthier position and have the freedom to move around more, thus relaxing your neck and shoulder muscles.
3. Position Your Body To Minimize The Risk Of Back Pain
When working at your laptop, position your body so that it forms 90° angles at your elbows, knees and hips. You should also aim to keep your eyes looking straight at the top third of the screen. This will protect against neck and shoulder pain caused by incorrect neck and shoulder posture.
Try to get up from your workstation and stretch twice every hour. It doesn’t need to take long and will help to refresh your tired body.
This is very important. If you don’t move around regularly, the pressure on your spinal discs will accumulate. The spinal discs form the cushions for your back and by sitting down for long periods of time, you can damage them. Try to walk around once every 30mins, even if it’s just during a phone call.
5. Assess Your Posture
This doesn’t take long to do and it’s much better to keep an eye on the problem before it develops. Here are some tips to start you off: