In case you missed it, last week’s post incriminated sitting and poor posture as major contributors to not only what is deemed as “normal” pain and systemic dysfunction, but actual shorter life spans. Not only were these two culprits incriminated but a solid case was made against them with easily graspable explanations. So now it’s on you. You have the knowledge. What are you going to do with it?
As promised, we will now take it one step further and provide some easily implementable strategies for breaking up the sitting and combating the collateral damage that comes with it.
1) Get Up. Stand Up.
This will be the easiest and most intuitive of all the suggestions we bring to the table. Break up the long periods of uninterrupted sitting by simply standing up. Obviously the more movement, the better but I realize in many situations, getting up from your chair and busting out some squats isn’t always conducive to your surroundings. Although, it is a good idea… the new “normal,” if you will.
Set an alarm on your phone for every 15-20 minutes that reminds you to stand up for at least 60 seconds. Take it a step further and incorporate a simple movement like the Bruegger exercise (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yxXqVcDam7Y ) in order to reverse some of that anterior muscle tightening and posterior weakening.
2) Breathe Right
Standing up and executing a movement such as the Bruegger exercise will also open your chest up and provide more room for the lungs to expand, drawing more oxygen in. This brings us to our next suggestion, and that is to be cognizant of your breathing mechanics. This can be done in the seated or standing position. The key is to concentrate on breathing with your abdomen or belly breathing.
This is done by utilizing the main muscle designed for breathing, the diaphragm. This muscle separates your chest cavity from your abdomen and descends on inhalation (creating negative pressure in the chest cavity and drawing oxygen in) and ascends on exhalation (forcing the carbon dioxide out).
When you breathe properly, you allow the muscles of the chest and neck to relax and not be forced to work all day in order to aid in your respiration. Unlike the diaphragm, these muscles were not designed to work with every breath. When they are forced to do so because of faulty breathing mechanics, it can lead to neck pain, muscle tightness and more of the hunched forward posture we are trying to avoid.
Being that the abdomen is heavily innervated by the parasympathetic nervous system, belly breathing will also enable us to relax and de-stress. We explained this mechanism thoroughly in a previous post so feel free to brush up if need be. https://clarkechiropracticwellness.com/2013/07/10/breathe-right/
As you can see, other than physically getting up and breaking up the sitting, we want to make sure we are doing all we can to sit right. In keeping with the theme, this also was a topic of a past post: https://clarkechiropracticwellness.com/2013/08/21/pain-discomfort-fatigue-your-workspace-could-be-a-culprit/ . Making sure your workspace is favorably arranged so that it is the least physically stressful should not be overlooked.
Most large businesses will provide an ergonomic evaluation upon request. I urge you to take advantage of this. If yours does not or you work from home, I invite you to review the link above, as it provides basic tips to getting you started. You can also feel free to contact our office (321-848-0987) as we offer full ergonomic evaluations.
A buzz word we are seeing thrown around more and more is “deskercise.” These are exercises to do at your desk for all of you who are moving a little slow this morning. Patients of Clarke Chiropractic and Wellness are provided with an ongoing, progressive regimen of postural and lifestyle exercises, which includes movements to keep yourself in check while at the desk.
The starter point provided in this post will be to first make sure your ears are lined up directly over the shoulders. This will begin to reverse that attractive chin jutting. Once you have this down (and you are naturally breathing correctly) you can begin to implement reverse shoulder rolls.
One at a time, roll your shoulder up, back and down, each time starting the next roll at the point you ended the last one. Do this three times for each shoulder, constantly being aware that your ears remain over your shoulders. This will again, open up your chest and engage the mid to lower back muscles as you pinch your shoulder blades together.
5) Mas Agua
Remaining properly hydrated is key to help you sustain optimal health. This will assist in keeping your joints lubricated and keep your discs (which absorb so much of your seated weight) hydrated. In addition to providing you an excuse to break up the sitting to refill your water, natural physiology will also kick in and force you to break up the sitting in order to revisit the restroom. (Unless of course, corporations begin to implement a toilet-chair, which wouldn’t surprise me.)
In addition to these simple and practical suggestions, beginning to execute movements that support proper posture and movement are a must as well. Virtually all patients we see are prescribed a progressive exercise regimen that concentrates on the core and relearning the harmful faulty movements obtained due to prolonged sitting.
If sitting, standing or any position for that matter causes you pain or discomfort, it is definitely time to listen to your body and address it. That is where we can intervene to assist you in getting out of pain and on the course to preventing it in the future.
Hopefully this and all posts will at least plant a seed in your mind so you begin to think about these things. Once the awareness is there, you can begin to take rectifying action. It’s alright if it’s uncomfortable or feels unnatural at first. The key is repetition and consistency in creating a new normal.
You have the knowledge and some strategies. The rest is up to you.
Keep It Moving.