What Did You Do Today That Compromised Your Posture?

February 27, 2024

We are going back to talking about posture and how we influence it in our daily activities.

There are many ways we influence our posture and our health without being aware of it. We do them at work, at play, and while resting. Generally, as a one-off thing if doesn’t affect much. Unfortunately, doing them for a long time does cause damage and pain. I will talk about a few of these in the next few sentences.

Using a Laptop

Laptops or tablets are everywhere in our life. They are so much a part of the landscape that we see them in television programs where the serious investigator whips open his laptop, hunches over it and draws astonishing conclusions. (Note that the smallest computers, i.e. cell phones, create the same behavioral pattern). Notice the phrase above ‘hunch over it’. This is how most people use laptops or tablets. They rest the machine on their lap or a surface that is level with their belly button. Then they bend their neck (and cervical spine) into a C i.e. they hunch. Most of the people I know are using these machines more than 5 hours a day. Guess what happens over time? You are right. They get headaches, neck aches and tight shoulders. A quick rub or rotation doesn’t fix it because the spine is not in position.

How do we fix it? The fix is two-fold. First, we fix the behavior i.e. how we use the machine. Don’t put the laptop or tablet on your lap. Put it on a flat surface and raise the surface up (be creative!) so the center of the screen is at eye level. Next, sit so your feet are flat on the floor and your hips are pushed forward. Relax your shoulders. Lastly, try to take breaks at least every hour where you stand up and walk around briefly. I prefer 40 minutes for the break but if you can’t do that do at least 1 hour.

Next how do we fix the pain we’ve already created? Do the exercise two feet up on the chair from my book for 15 minutes every day. Do gentle neck rotations 10 times each way. Do Cats and Dogs 15 times. Do the exercise on page 54 in my book, Opening the curve of the lumbar spine. Make sure you let the head dangle completely relaxed as you hold the position.

Running

Most people run incorrectly. They use their hip flexors to swing their legs forward, barely lifting their legs. Their feet lift up only an inch or two, so their feet seem to skim the surface. This puts pressure on the knees and hips because the body isn’t aligned. Gradually, over time, pain develops in both the hips and knees. It can also shift to the spine and shoulders as the torso is misaligned.

How do we fix it? I show how you are supposed to run in my video here https://www.dropbox.com/s/t9sec63ri320i8w/20200420_FunctionRun.mp4?dl=0

The key points are, 1) relax your body and hold your hands in a relaxed grip near your waist. 2) lift your knees and shift your weight forward as you run so your heals strike under your hips. Most runners have week thigh muscles because they use their hip flexors to run. If you do this (run in the function run) for a bit your thigh muscles will ache because they are finally being used.

What if you are in pain already? Most likely your knees and hips are aching. If the pain isn’t too bad doing Walk Like a Heron from my book and deep squats will help. Doing function run as shown above will correct your alignment over time and correct your pain. For more help just get in touch with me at calanmartin@gmail.com.

Lounging in a chair or sofa while watching video

There may be nothing worse than sitting in a lounging position while you watch videos or play games. People tend to contort their bodies into unbelievable shapes that distort the perfect alignment of shoulder, hip, knee, and ankle but worse twist the spine and neck into very difficult positions. Lower back pain and neck pain are usual results, but shoulder pain is also developed due to the shoulder freezing because it isn’t used.

How do we fix it? DON’T SIT IN A SOFT SURFACE WITH OUR FEET OFF THE GROUND. If you must watch videos or play games sit in a hard chair with your feet flat on the floor. Push your hips forward so there is a slight curvature in your lower spine. Open your chest, if you are playing games, so your breathing isn’t constricted, and your hands are free.

What about fixing the pain associated with this position? If you’ve been in this position for a long time, you will find your posture is distorted. You will have to analyze your posture and fix it. See my book for help on this. https://amzn.to/3OpWyM9  .I can help you if you need some help. If you won’t correct your position for watching TV and playing games prepare to be in pain.

I’ve presented three positions that most people experience in their lives. This is just a summary of the pain and dysfunction that is caused by these incorrect uses of the self. They are by no means comprehensive. In the case of laptops, I’ve not mentioned the eye problems that frequently are associated with long laptop use.  Spend some time thinking about how you use your body and if you do any of these things try to correct them. Reach out if you need some help.

There will be more to come in future blog posts.

To a pain free life.

Cliff


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