Tips for Texting to Protect Our Neck & Spine

Posted on October 7, 2014. Filed under: Children, Chiropractic, Pain, Posture | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

by Dr. Gregory Steiner
CA Acupuncture & Chiropractic Clinictexting_posture

It seems the entire world is immersed in digital media.  It has become a part of almost everything we do.  Cell phones, once considered a luxury item are now prevalent in most homes and viewed as a necessity.  Many parents see them as an important factor in keeping their kids safe by being able to contact them at any time or place.  While this solves some issues, it’s raising others…

Today’s younger generation, (toddlers to teens) are being raised with mobile devices.  Though kids’ slouching has been an ongoing issue (usually due to laziness or not knowing the proper way to sit or stand), kids today are developing terrible posture because of how they position their bodies while using these devices.  As they peer into the device, they are usually hunched over with their shoulders rolled forward, and heads down.

Poor posture can lead to constricting of the chest cavity, which in turn causes problems with blood flow and getting full deep breaths, and over time can cause a whole host of chronic health conditions.  When a person doesn’t get full enough breaths, the cardiovascular system doesn’t work at full efficiency because it’s compressed.  When proper lung capacity isn’t continuously utilized, it becomes a struggle to get deep breaths. Over the short-term, kids will most likely be tired and low on energy. But there’s more… There are nerves in the upper back that control the heart and lungs that can eventually deform.  If the spine deforms at an early age, there is constriction and the possibility of disrupting their nerve supply in the upper back which can further effects on heart, lungs and even stomach digestion.  And because there is constant tension on the neck as well, they are far more likely to develop chronic headaches.

Having the head bent forward too often can also produce ill effects.  Every inch of forward head posture places an additional 10 lbs of pressure on the muscles and joints of the neck.  Good news is that it can be corrected.  Young people can be fully corrected because the bones are still growing (usually until the early 20’s).  While the bones are still growing there is a possibility for full correction because you can literally guide the growth, But everyone can benefit with a combination of posture correction as well as chiropractic care and corrective exercises.

One thing I do in my clinic is show patients what good posture is.  When children are taught at a young age how to “stand up straight” it can virtually shape the way they carry themselves throughout life (not only with posture, but showing confidence as well!) Teach your kids an example of good posture by having them stand with their back against the wall with heels, glutes, upper back and back of head against the wall with the chin somewhat down.

And follow some of these Tips for Texting:

  • Maintain an upright posture while texting – Avoid bending your head down and rounding your shoulders
  • Hold your phone up to face level when using
  • Rest the thumbs by using alternative fingers
  • Utilize voice-to-text so you can speak you’re message that will be typed out
  • Use a neutral grip when holding the device. A neutral grip is when the wrist is straight, not bent in either direction
  • Reduce your keystrokes. More keystrokes equals more strain on your hands and thumbs—so keep your messages brief

 

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Is Sitting at the Computer Wrecking Your Health?

Posted on August 26, 2014. Filed under: Chiropractic, Exercise, Fatigue, Health, Pain | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

sitting at desk~by Dr. Gregory Steiner
CA Acupuncture & Chiropractic Clinic

 

In today’s society, more and more job positions are computer centralized requiring extended amounts of time sitting at a desk.  And it’s not only on the job, but at home and practically everywhere we go. Whether for work or pleasure, we spend a lot of time on the computer (including tablets and smartphones) and in turn spend a lot of time sitting in a stationary position.  Sitting down all day long can be terrible for your health, as it increases the likelihood of heart disease, weight gain, back aches and pain – among other ills.  Think about how much we sit – we sit at the office, we sit in the car, we sit to eat and even to watch tv!

Twenty years ago, the chiropractic issues I treated resulted from overwork of the spinal discs, usually brought about from manual type labor.  Now these discs in the back are becoming underworked.  The discs in your back function like a sponge.  Their job is to create a cushion between your bones but they must be nourished.  They need to flex and bend.  If they become undernourished and underused, decay sets in faster and they become more narrow and brittle.  The end result leads to increased back & joint pain.

Another result of “over-sitting” at a desk all day is incredibly poor posture.  I see patients starting to have an exaggeration of the head tipped forward with shoulders rolled inward and rounded. This forward tipping creates huge tensions on the neck.  Muscles become very imbalanced & the ones in the back of the neck are under strain all the time because things are rolled forward.  This creates weakness on one part of the body and tightness on the other part.  In the short run, this creates muscle tension.  If not corrected, the ligaments that hold the bones together actually over-stretch and the bones actually start to change shape.  If the neck and head are tilted just an inch forward, it can increase the weight of the head on the neck by 10 pounds.  A decade later that inch may have become more like 3 inches, increasing the weight of the head on the neck by 30 pounds.  This forward head position has become one of the most common causes of neck, head and shoulder tension and pain.

How can we fix this?  Small changes practiced consistently over a long period of time can make a big difference.  Try some of these:

Take hourly breaks.  Every hour, get up from the desk and walk around or stretch.  Do this for at least 2-5 minutes.  Set your mobile device or computer to alert you as a reminder to just move.

Optimize your workstation.  Fix your chair so that your legs bend at a 90 degree angle.  Have support for your upper and lower back.   Make sure your computer screen isn’t too low so that you need to bend your head down to look at it.

Sit the right way.  Try to sit tall with your shoulders back and stomach muscles engaged.  Tilt your pelvis forward and arch your lower back.  Don’t slouch or lean forward.

Exercise while at the desk.  Raise your legs while seated on your chair to stretch out your hip flexors.  Raise your arms over your head and then stretch to the left or right.  You can even do isolated isometric glute squeezes.

If you can multi-task while performing your office duties, you can teach your body to multi-task as well.  You don’t need to sit still like a statue as you work.  Ever hear of “getting those juices flowing”?  Your body will thank you for it!

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Stand Up Straight! Good Posture Basics…

Posted on September 27, 2011. Filed under: Aging, Joints | Tags: , , , , , |

By Dr. Greg Steiner

Usually I hear from moms and wives: “I keep telling him (her) to stand up straight! Quit slouching, or you’ll end up like your cousin Betsy who is the little old lady who is all bent over in the front row of the church!”

Ok, maybe that’s a paraphrase, but the essential worry and complaint that a Family Member A has noticed and is starting to worry about Family Member B’s slouch that isn’t going away.

It usually starts in high school, and sometimes even before – the teen age slouch. Sometimes it comes from a pain in the back caused by prolonged sitting; sometimes by sheer laziness; and sometimes from a psychological factor – either looking cool or being shy.

Regardless of the cause, what does good posture look like and how do you measure it?

Ok, grab Loved One B and stand them up and have them face a wall. You stand to their side. If they are standing correctly you should see a person that looks poised, balanced, and at ease all at the same time. Military people usually make a habit of standing very straight, but at times their stance is excessively rigid. Dancers who do modern and jazz usually stand very well – just as straight as the military folk, yet more relaxed. The surprise is that the people who lift weights in the Olympics usually have very good posture – athletic, straight, and very strong for all their size.

Ok, you have them there – what do you look for?

Look at the tip of the ear, the tip of the shoulder, the tip of the hip (usually along the seam line) and the tip of the ankle. If their posture is right, all these “tips” should be aligned along one vertical line.

If it’s wrong, many times the head is forward (called “Forward Head Tilt”).

At first there may not be more than an inch of misalignment, but given time this can develop into a slouch, and finally a great stoop and shuffling walk.

The way it works is like this: the human head weighs as much as a bowling ball. If all that weight starts to shift forward, something else in the body must adapt for you to keep balance. Imagine if your head flopped forward – without a counterbalance you would fall forward on every step. So, in order to move with balance your low and upper back change curve to keep you in a state of basic balance.

The problem is that this mechanism is a compensation for a problem, not a fix for it. In other words, if the forward head isn’t corrected and maintained, for every inch the head tilts the curve in the changes by an inch. Eventual result: back pain to go along with the likely neck pain and headaches!

Kids have it worse, if they carry a backpack that makes them bend too far forward; the load hastens the wear on the spine. If you do take the extra caring step and examine your family, you will be doing them a great favor if you help them correct the issue as soon as possible, before anymore wear takes place. Not one of those stooped, shuffling little old ladies started out that way or suddenly changed on their 60th birthday. No, they were once standing tall and straight. While it’s never too late to achieve some success with slouch and stoop, early detection and correction is always best.

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