Simple Suggestions to Help Prevent Chronic Pain

Many of us spend the majority of our days sitting behind a desk staring at a computer screen. It’s important to keep proper posture in order to avoid an injury.Here are a few ways to set up your workstation to help keep proper posture and alignment. 

 

Be sure to push your hips as far back in your chair as possible so the contours of the seat support your spinal curves. Your chair should be at 100 degree angle, not straight up and down. Adjust the seat height so your feet are flat on the floor. If they still dangle, use a foot rest. Also, shoulders should be relaxed. Adjust the arm rests if possible. 

 

When setting up your computer, make sure the monitor and keyboard are centered in front of you. Your mouse should be next to your keyboard and never out of reach. Keep elbows in an open position of about 100 degrees with wrists and hands straight, not flexed or extended. If you wear bifocal glasses, it is especially important to position eye level to the upper one third of the monitor. If you do not wear glasses, two to three inches below the top is optimum. Also try to eliminate any glare from the source light. 

 

Try to use a headset or speakerphone so you don’t get in the habit of using your shoulder to hold the phone against your ear.   

 

Take short breaks every half hour or so and occasionally focus your eyes on something far away. Covering your eyes with the palms of your hands, without pushing, for 15-30 seconds can be helpful as well. Also, be sure to get up from your seat whenever possible to stretch your legs or go for a short walk. Taking these steps to properly set up your desk can greatly improve your posture. It’s the small things we do that make the biggest impact!  

 

Having a Pain in the Office?

Does your back ache after a long day at the office? It could be your poor posture. One of the most common work related injuries is back pain and can often be caused from doing the most ordinary work activities such as sitting in an office chair. According to the Chicago Tribune, 80 percent of Americans have back pain at some point in their life.

Not only can poor posture cause neck and back pain, but it can also cause headaches and fatigue leading to poor productivity. Livestrong.com reported that slouching can lead to reduced lung function and affect your lung capacity by as much as 30 percent. When our lungs are not functioning well, your tissues do not receive the proper amount of oxygenated blood. 

The way we hold our bodies is also important for how we are perceived by others. When we stand tall, we are perceived as powerful and strong; but when we slouch we look sloppy and unprofessional. According to Lifehacker.com, having good posture can change your mood and overall happiness. Those who sit for more than 7 hours per day are 47 percent more likely to be depressed. The more active we are, the more energy we have. Staying active at work is very important as prolonged static posture is not good and can lead to serious issues if not dealt with. Try getting up for a minute or two every hour or even go for a fifteen minute walk to help get your blood flowing and those muscles moving. Remember, It’s what you do everyday that catches up to you!

 

1 Deardorf, Julie. "Straighten Up, Sloucher." Chicagotribune.com. N.p., 13 Sept. 2011. Web. 13 July 2015.

2 Nall, Rachel. "Health Problems From Bad Posture." LIVESTRONG.COM. 28 Jan. 2015. Web. 13 July 2015

3 Cooper, Belle Beth. "The Science Behind Posture and How It Affects Your Brain." Lifehacker. N.p., 13 Nov. 13. Web. 13 July 2015.

 

Footprints in the Snow

How they may hold the key to why you have pain.

Winter is here! We have said goodbye to the mild fall temps only to be greeted with the icy cold handshake of old man winter! That means scraping off the frozen windshield, bundling up every time we head out, and putting on the heavy boots to go stomping off into the snow. Whether you are pushing the shovel or just going across the parking lot, you may take a moment to look back at your footsteps in the snow. The winter snow is a perfectly clean canvas waiting for us to paint a little history, and a great tool to evaluate one of our most basic body mechanics. Our footprints tell us more than where we've been, they tell us where we are going. But most importantly, they give us an idea of how we are getting there. Just by looking at our footprints in the snow, we can tell a lot about a person and even why they develop chronic pain.

For example:
If the footprint turns outward (toe out), it means that with every step, you transfer your weight from the outside of your heel, and roll it through the inside of the large toe. Repeat it a couple thousand times a day and it can cause toe and ankle problems, excess pressure on your knee, hip or low back problems. Add the extra weight of the boots, snow, and ice and you have the perfect formula for an accident waiting to happen!

If you toe inward or are walking on the outside of the foot, balance is usually compromised. The small outside toes are punished, encouraging them to turn under the neighboring toes, and incredible torque is placed through the knee usually causing excessive "wear and tear" and eventually pain.

If your footprints are spread wide and with a short stride, it demonstrates that you may not extend well at the hips. This means you shift your weight from side-to-side instead of striding forward. Not only is it less efficient, but it creates much more work for your hips and low back. The outside of your legs and hips usually tighten down with a vengeance, causing your low back to get stiff and painful.

How should you be walking? Having your feet placed hip width apart and an average forward stride is the best position to be in. Optimally, you should be striking center heel, rolling your weight through the bottom of your foot, and then off the first (inside) three toes. The first three toes of your foot are larger than the others for one reason--to take the full weight and force of your body when in standing or gait. Combined with the complex architecture of the arch of your foot, these larger inside three toes create a spring-like action that catapults you forward. The smaller and more fragile outside two

toes act more like "helpers", and maintain or redirect movement/balance back to your center of gravity.

Anyone who owns a activity bracelet or pedometer can eagerly tell you almost exactly the number of steps they take a day, which demonstrates how much repetition the feet and legs actually get. If you have chronic pain in your low back, hips, knees, and/or feet, you may want to consider that you probably average thousands of steps a day, seven days a week, and 365 days a year. The workload of walking improperly really begins to add up fast, and your body starts to complain. If everyday gait and movements become more efficient, there is less effort, fatigue, and stress on the body's joints.

Always remember, it's what you do everyday that makes the long term difference. The winter footprints give us a visible record that reminds us of what we are doing, and gives us a chance to make some changes. The snow can help us be aware of how we are walking, so the steps we take in the spring are truly a step in the right direction!