Articles in Category: Ergonomics

Sitting at your Desk

on Monday, 21 December 2015. Posted in Ergonomics

Sitting at your Desk

Sitting at your Desk

You probably have seen it talked about recently, in the media or on Facebook: working upright is supposed to be healthy but why? This article will discuss the reasoning behind this claim and why getting out of that chair is so important!

 

Let's start with discussing how much we actually sit in a day. We get out of bed and sit down for breakfast. Then we sit in the car to drive to work where most of us sit down for a few hours until it's time to go home. We get in the car, drive home have dinner and sit down in front of the television to relax. Some lucky few have a job that doesn't require them to sit the whole day and there are some that even cycle to work. However, this isn't the Great Kingdom of the Netherlands so there aren't many that cycle to work and it’s not very well catered for. This is why Australia's population is getting fatter by the minute. Research has shown that, on average, people sit between 7.5 to 15 hours a day! Additional research has also shown that it doesn’t matter how much we work out in the gym or on the pitch we can't undo the damage done from sitting for extended periods of time.

 

Why sitting is bad for your back
S Shape Spine

Curves are a normal part of the spine's structure. Looking at the spine from the side several curves can be seen. From this angle, the spine resembles an 'S' shape.

 

These curves enable the spine to distribute the load evenly. Maintaining a good posture means actively maintaining that S curve in your spine. This becomes quite difficult during a long road trip or after being seated behind a desk for an extensive period of time. We usually start out pretty good, but before you know it we're hunched back in our chair or bent forward over that book or phone.

 

During any body position there will be some loading on the intervertebral discs (1) and vertebral bodies (2) of the spine. Research has shown this pressure to be the least when we lie on our backs and the highest when we are seated, almost twice as much as when we're standing!

 

When people sit for extended periods of time their pelvis shifts and their lower back ends up in a C shape as opposed to the S discussed earlier. This increases the pressure even more and stretches the back muscles and ligaments which can cause further pain and discomfort.

 

Not just sitting in a bad posture, but also sitting for extended periods of time can be detrimental to your spinal health. Our intervertebral discs lack their own blood supply. They have their nutrients supplied to them by movement in the spinal column. This means that if we remain seated for a long time, we are starving our intervertebral disc. This will lead to degenerative changes in these segments, which are irreversible. As a consequence the spine has decreased in strength even low loading now has the potential to cause pain.

 

Other health issues caused by sitting
Research has shown that besides the effect on the back, prolonged sitting can cause all sorts of other health problems. Various research papers have shown that prolonged sitting is bad for your mental health and it increases the chance of diabetes.

 

Furthermore, the chances of cardiovascular problems increase as cholesterol levels and blood pressure rise. The researchers also saw an increase in different types of cancer due to sitting for extended periods of time. Namely, bowl cancer, cervical cancer and lung cancer. The risk increase per 2 hours was 8% for bowel cancer, 10% for cervical cancer and 6% for lung cancer. People who sit extensively tend to have a lower life expectancy.

 

All this research shows that we need to drastically rethink our attitude towards sitting. Especially since, as we've earlier discussed, you cannot undo the damage done from sitting all day by spending an hour or two in the gym. This is why many companies have started to invest in standing desks. These desks can be worked on in a seated as well as a standing position, this way you can stand up and continue your work standing when you want to. If such a desk is not available to you, try and stand up when you're on the phone or go for walks during your lunch breaks, this will help decrease the time you spend sitting down. And if you want to help your colleagues be healthier as well, suggest having standing meetings as research has shown that this leads to more creativity, greater cooperation and faster decision making. And who wouldn't be interested in that!? So tomorrow at work change your workstation and get up from that chair!

The Forward Head Posture

on Friday, 26 May 2017. Posted in Newsletters, General Health, Ergonomics, Chiropractic

The Forward Head Posture

The Forward Head Posture

In the January newsletter, we discussed the different types of common postures observed in people and how ideally the spine likes to be in an as neutral position as possible (not leaning forward too far and not overextending backwards). 

 

This month, we will start fixing those with a Kyphotic posture (the slouching and neck protrusion). 

 

First we start by correcting the top of the spine; the neck.

 

Kyphosis 1 

To minimize the stress and strains on the neck, the cervical spine ideally has to be in a vertical line with the body's centre of gravity. This position is balanced off by the front neck muscles (the sternocleidomastoid) and the back neck muscles (levator scapulae and trapezius). Like the wires holding a bridge.

 

This abnormal posture can cause headaches, neck pain, sometimes jaw pain and rounded shoulders. Most people also often feel pain/tightness starting from the neck radiating up to the base of the skull. In a prolonged period, an excessive load on the joint and muscles are imposed which can then degenerate the cervical spine leading to irritation of the nerves.  

 

In Forward Head Posture, the SCM shortens and the middle fibres of trapezius and levator increases in length and weakness. Most of the time the commonly prescribed treatment for FHP is to stretch the levator and trapezius (which is good short term) but it doesn't give you a long term solution as the SCM is still shortened and the levator and middle trapezius are in a lengthened position. 

 

What needs to be done is to relax the SCM and bring posterior cervical muscles to a correct length. To do so, the best exercise to begin with is the chin tuck exercise.  

 

Rolled Towel Chin Tucks:

YouTube Link: https://youtu.be/m3smFwVGy7s

Chin Tucks 

 

A FHP not only increases load on the cervical spine, it also leads to a rounded shoulder which enhances the flexion of the mid back (the slouch).

 

Being in this position long term can affect your lung expansion capabilities, digestion rate, shoulder impingement and also cause loss of height. 

 

Kyphosis 2

 

Correcting your mid back will help your neck feel better in the long period. If you find that doing the chin tuck exercise does not make you feel any better at all, it probably means you will have to start fixing the thoracic spine first. 

 

The seated thoracic extension exercise is one of our clinics favourite. All you need is a chair and it can be practiced anywhere. Try doing these 2 exercises 10-20 reps throughout the day and feel the difference it makes on your neck and back!

 

Seated Thoracic Stretch:

YouTube Link: https://youtu.be/YcURm7DWXko

Seated Thoracic 1 Seated Thoracic 2 Seated Thoracic 3

    

By Iris Tan

B.App.Sc (Chiropractic) M.Clin.Chiropractic. 

Memb: CA, Gonstead (Australia)

Iris picture new contrast 

Reference 

1.Lee, K.-J., Han, H.-Y., Cheon, S.-H., Park, S.-H., & Yong, M.-(2015). The effect of forward head posture on muscle activity during neck protraction and retraction. Journal of Physical Therapy Science27(3), 977–979. http://doi.org/10.1589/jpts.27.977

2.Dalkilinç, (2015). The benefits of good posture - Murat DalkilinçYouTube. Retrieved 8 March 2017, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OyK0oE5rwFY

Upper Cross Syndrome

on Thursday, 14 February 2019. Posted in Massage, Newsletters, General Health, Ergonomics

Upper Cross Syndrome

Upper Cross Syndrome (UCS) refers to a particular configuration of muscles that are underactive and overactive in the back, neck, shoulders and chest. Muscles of the upper back and into the neck become overactive and strained and the muscles of the chest become shortened and tight. UCS gets its name from the “X” shape that develops as a result of the underactive and overactive muscles overlapping, along with the surrounding muscles that consequently become weak. 

 

 

How Does This Happen?

UCS is typically a result of inappropriate posture, specifically sitting or standing with the head forward for prolonged periods. Activities that may promote a head forward position include:

  • Computer and laptop use

  • Browsing, texting, apps and gaming on mobile devices

  • Reading

  • Watching TV

  • Driving

How Can This Affect You?

Tension headaches and migrainesthe head forward position increases the stress placed on the upper back and the muscles at the back of the neck, increasing your risk of headaches.

 

General neck, shoulder and upper back pain – can be experienced due to the impacted muscles of UCS. Trigger points or tender areas can develop due to the constant stress being placed on these muscles.

 

Impaired respiratory function – rounded shoulders and a forward head position typically cause tightness and shortening of muscles as seen in those with UCS. These overactive and underactive muscles as well as the position of the rib cage can result in impaired respiratory function.

 

You may also experience:

  • Jaw pain

  • Tiredness

  • Difficulty sitting, reading, watching TV or driving too long

  • Restricted range of motion in the neck or shoulders

  • Discomfort, pain, tingling or numbness in the upper arm

  • Tightness in the chest

  • Lower back pain

 

What Can I Do? Well, I’m glad you asked!

Prevention is better than a cure as they say and the best way to prevent UCS is to avoid activities that require a head forward position for extended periods of time, this may be:

  • Limiting time spent using computers and laptops or mobile devices

  • Take regular breaks while sitting or engaged in problematic activities

  • Being mindful of movements or activities that may worsen symptoms and avoid these when possible

  • Stretch and strengthen muscles of the back, neck, shoulders and chest

  • Maintain a good posture

Can Massage Help With My Symptoms? YES!

Massage can reduce the pain and discomfort associated with UCS. Massage Therapists use soft tissue and active release techniques in combination with stretching and helpful suggestions for strengthening exercises.

 

As a former office worker of almost 20 years, having spent more than 40 hours a week in front of a computer; I understand the impact that this type of work or activity has on our body. I appreciate that it is not always simple to limit time on the computer or mobile device; or taking regular breaks are not always easy or practical; or even maintaining a good posture throughout the day, “I got tired, I slouched in my chair” – I hear you. Any step towards a healthier you, is a step in the right direction.

 

 

Written by Maharlia Kennedy

Remedial Massage Therapist (Dip. Remedial Massage)

 

 

Refernce for Image: https://www.healthandexercise.com.au/exercise-physiology/exercise-physiologyposture-correction-exercises-upper-crossed-syndrome/

 

Upper Cross Syndrome (UCS) refers to a particular configuration of muscles that are underactive and overactive in the back, neck, shoulders and chest. Muscles of the upper back and into the neck become overactive and strained and the muscles of the chest become shortened and tight. UCS gets its name from the “X” shape that develops as a result of the underactive and overactive muscles overlapping, along with the surrounding muscles that consequently become weak.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Does This Happen?

UCS is typically a result of inappropriate posture, specifically sitting or standing with the head forward for prolonged periods. Activities that may promote a head forward position include:

  • Computer and laptop use

  • Browsing, texting, apps and gaming on mobile devices

  • Reading

  • Watching TV

  • Driving

 

How Can This Affect You?

Tension headaches and migrainesthe head forward position increases the stress placed on the upper back and the muscles at the back of the neck, increasing your risk of headaches.

 

General neck, shoulder and upper back pain – can be experienced due to the impacted muscles of UCS. Trigger points or tender areas can develop due to the constant stress being placed on these muscles.

 

Impaired respiratory function – rounded shoulders and a forward head position typically cause tightness and shortening of muscles as seen in those with UCS. These overactive and underactive muscles as well as the position of the rib cage can result in impaired respiratory function.

 

You may also experience:

  • Jaw pain

  • Tiredness

  • Difficulty sitting, reading, watching TV or driving too long

  • Restricted range of motion in the neck or shoulders

  • Discomfort, pain, tingling or numbness in the upper arm

  • Tightness in the chest

  • Lower back pain

 

What Can I Do? Well, I’m glad you asked!

Prevention is better than a cure as they say and the best way to prevent UCS is to avoid activities that require a head forward position for extended periods of time, this may be:

  • Limiting time spent using computers and laptops or mobile devices

  • Take regular breaks while sitting or engaged in problematic activities

  • Being mindful of movements or activities that may worsen symptoms and avoid these when possible

  • Stretch and strengthen muscles of the back, neck, shoulders and chest

  • Maintain a good posture

 

Can Massage Help With My Symptoms? YES!

Massage can reduce the pain and discomfort associated with UCS. Massage Therapists use soft tissue and active release techniques in combination with stretching and helpful suggestions for strengthening exercises.

 

As a former office worker of almost 20 years, having spent more than 40 hours a week in front of a computer; I understand the impact that this type of work or activity has on our body. I appreciate that it is not always simple to limit time on the computer or mobile device; or taking regular breaks are not always easy or practical; or even maintaining a good posture throughout the day, “I got tired, I slouched in my chair” – I hear you. Any step towards a healthier you, is a step in the right direction.

 

 

Written by Maharlia Kennedy

Remedial Massage Therapist (Dip. Remedial Massage)

 

 

Image: https://www.healthandexercise.com.au/exercise-physiology/exercise-physiologyposture-correction-exercises-upper-crossed-syndrome/