Category Archives for "Posture"

Preventing Repetitive Strain Injuries At A Desk Job

Labour-intensive industries get a lot of attention when it comes to work-related injuries, but employees who work in office settings are also at risk. Poor ergonomics and organization can lead to common office injuries such as computer eye strains, falls and most importantly, repetitive use injuries.

Our bones and muscles make up our musculoskeletal system. This system allows us to perform activities such as walking, running, and anything requiring the movement of the body. A repetitive strain injury occurs when repeated movements produce stress on your body. Unfortunately, many office jobs require repetitive motions to fulfill our duties, and for this reason, they are the most common type of injury found in the office (WCB). Examples of repetitive strain injuries include carpal tunnel, tendonitis, radial tunnel syndrome, and others.

Symptoms of repetitive strain injuries include:
  · Dull aching
  · Loss of sensation (numbness) especially at night
  · Tingling and burning sensations
  · Swelling around wrist/hand
  · Clumsiness (impaired dexterity, loss of ability to grasp items, etc.)
  · Muscle weakness, fatigue, and/or spasms

Prevention:
  · Stop or reduce the intensity of activity causing the pain
  · Taking breaks from repetitive tasks
  · While at the desk…
      · Ensure proper ergonomics
      · Avoid slouching
      · Avoid bending the wrists when typing
      · Avoid hitting the keys too hard when typing
      · Don’t grip the mouse too tightly
      · Ensure you are working in an appropriate temperature
Standing up and performing stretches such as the following:

WCB (n.d.) Office Ergonomics. Retrieved from: https://www.wcb.ab.ca/assets/pdfs/public/office_ergo.pdf

Neutral Spine Posture

Start on hands and knees position on a yoga mat with a reverse arch in the upper back. You are wanting to keep your tailbone upper back and head in alignment.

How Can Flat Feet Lead to Poor Posture?

Prolonged sitting in front of a computer, in a car, or at a desk can result in poor posture habits that ultimately cause a wide range of problems such as chronic back or neck pain.

Flat feet is a key risk factor for poor posture. This foot condition can be caused by genetic factors, weak arches, injuries, arthritis, tendon ruptures, or poor footwear. It occurs when there is a collapse in the foot arch which causes the feet to overpronate, or roll inwards. This places high stress loads to the ankles, knees, hips, and lower back, which lead to pain and stiffness throughout the body.

A few tips to keep the body in alignment is to bring your shoulders down and away from your ears to not hunch the upper back. Evenly distribute your body weight to the front, sides, and back of the feet. Remember to take frequent breaks during long periods of sitting or staring at a screen. Lastly, proper footwear or orthotics, and strengthening or stretching of the deep neck flexors, trapezius muscle, abdominal muscles, and hip muscles may help correct poor posture.  
Watch the videos below for some quick and easy exercises to help alleviate pain and strengthen muscles for good posture:

Chronic Neck, Shoulder, Elbow Pain or Stiffness: Ulnar Nerve Flossing

Strengthening Hips, Pelvis and Low Back: “Psoas March”

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6 Pain-Fighting Moves You Can Do With A Tennis Ball

We absolutely love using foam roller exercises to work out those nagging aches and pains, but sometimes they can’t get into a tight area quite as well as a pair of human hands. The next best option after a massage? This series of mini self-massage techniques using nothing more than a few tennis balls. These moves get into the deepest layers of your muscle and connective tissue to pry apart adhesions so your muscles can fully contract and stretch. They’ll also relieve soreness, pain, and increase circulation. So grab a pair of tennis balls (you know there’s one buried somewhere in the garage) and get started.

If You’ve Got… Achy Feet

Try… Sole Searching

Why it helps: The ball loosens up stiffness in your sole’s muscles, joints, and connective tissues.

How to do it:

  1. While standing next to a wall or chair for stability, place a ball underneath the arch of your foot. Keep your heel on the floor and let your body weight sink in. Take deep breaths for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  2. Slowly roll your foot from side to side so the ball crosses your arch. Repeat for 1 to 2 minutes.
  3. Roll the ball along the length of your foot from heal to toe for 1 to 2 minutes.
  4. Repeat on the other foot.

If You’ve Got… Stiff Knees

Try… Kneedy Ball

Why it helps: The ball acts as a spacer to gently traction the lower leg bones, kneecap, and thigh away from one another. This provides an internal stretch within the often-stiff joint capsule of the knee.

How to do it:

  1. Sit on the floor or in a chair and place the ball behind your bent knee, as close to the side of the knee as possible.
  2. Attempt to contract your muscles against the ball, temporarily “squashing” the ball for a count of 10, then relax your muscles for a count of 10. Do this 8 to 10 times.
  3. Repeat on the other knee.

If You’ve Got… Tight Thighs

Try… IT Band Meltdown

Why it helps: The balls tease motion into the frequently tight IT Band and outer quadriceps muscle (vastus lateralis). This move helps to soothe tight knees and hips at once.

How to do it:

  1. While sitting on the ground or in a firm chair, place 2 balls on the outside of your thigh. Keep the balls nestled into the side of your thigh and slowly bend and straighten your knee 20 times.
  2. Move your thigh from side to side so that the balls cross the side of your thigh. Repeat for 2 minutes.
  3. Repeat on the other side.

If You’ve Got… Sore Hips

Try… Hip Help

Why It Helps: This move targets multiple large and small muscles that attach on the side of the hip (the gluteus maximus, the medius, and the pitiformis). These muscles can be tight either from sitting too much, overuse in exercise, or wearing high-heeled shoes.

How to do it:

  1. Lie on the ground and place one ball on the side of your hip, then lean into the ball. Make slow circles with the hip and leg as it rests on the ball. Circle 12 times in each direction.
  2. Repeat on the other side.

If You’ve Got… A Cramped Back

Try… Low Back Loosener

Why It Helps: This move massages and relieves tension in the multiple back and core muscles that intersect in the lower back.

How to do it:

  1. Place 2 balls vertically between your bottom and your ribs and lie down on top of them. Breathe deeply while shifting your pelvis from side to side so the balls cross your entire lower back. If you’d like, you can place the balls in a tote, stocking, or sock.
  2. Move the ball more slowly in the areas where you feel stiffer, and lighten your pressure when you’re near the spine so that you’re not pinching the balls into your bones as you cross from right to left or left to right.
  3. Breathe deeply as you roll for up to 5 minutes.

If You’ve Got… Bad Posture

Try… Upper Back UnWind

Why It Helps: This move is a postural corrective, an upper back tension reliever, and also helps to revive your breath.

How to do it:

  1. Lie down and place two balls side by side on either side of your upper back. (You can place them in a tote, stocking, or sock, if you’d like.) Interlace your hands behind your head and lift your head off the floor, bringing your chin toward your chest. Lift your bottom off the floor and take 3 deep breaths into your ribs.
  2. Keeping your breaths big and steady, roll the balls like a rolling pin up and down your upper back for 3 to 4 minutes.
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5 Really Great Reasons Why Good Posture Is Super Important

So it turns out, your mother was right after all: Good posture really matters ― even in your older years.
Here are five reasons why good posture matters.

1. Bad posture can adversely impact your sex life.

Research shows that slouching ― the opposite of “power posing,” meaning standing up tall and straight ― results in low energy and low self-esteem. Standing straight up with your shoulders back and neck aligned with the rest of your spine is considered a “power pose” that can boost your energy and confidence levels. By regularly practicing good posture, you’ll feel more confident and energized in and out of the bedroom.

2.  Slouching makes you look older. 

If you’ve spent years sitting at a desk, hunched over a computer, you may be more likely to develop that unnatural hump in your neck or back resulting from “text neck.” For women, the forward slouching motion and rounding of the shoulders can cause breast sagging. To avoid your slouching from developing into skeletal or spinal issues, stay mindful of your posture in any position you’re in, whether you’re seated, standing, or walking, said Wang.

3. Bad posture can damage your back.

Yes, of course you knew that. Did you know that back pain is the second most common reason people visit the doctor every year, and poor posture is directly correlated to the increase in back pain in people who spend a great deal of their time sitting. Research found that during an average workday, people spend as much as 38 minutes per hour slouching.  

4. Poor posture can cause irregular bowel movements. 

We kid you not. It’s not just your back that will feel the affects of your slouching ― your intestines will take a hit, too. Having good posture means your stomach and intestines can easily push food through ― but poor posture can cause your gastrointestinal system to lock up or function poorly. Research has also shown that people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome who suffer from bloating and gas can ease their symptoms by standing up straight. 

5. Bad posture makes you more selfish.

Research shows that sitting upright helps reduce self-focus, allowing you to tune in more on the needs and emotions of the people around you.
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Exercises to Correct Poor Posture

Last week we discussed the effects of upper and lower crossed syndromes. To follow up, this week we will discuss some stretches and exercises that can help to correct these syndromes and improve posture.

Upper Crossed:
As previously mentioned, upper crossed syndrome causes the pectoral muscles, upper trapezius and levator scapulae muscles to become tight or facilitated. These muscles will need to be released or relaxed. Meanwhile, the deep neck muscles used to help nod the head and the lower trapezius and muscles between the shoulder blades become weak or inhibited. So, we’ll need to work on building strength in these muscles.
1. Chest opening stretches to release the pectoral muscles (hold for min. 30 seconds)
2. Levator scapulae stretch (hold for min. 30 seconds on each side)
This can be a bit of an awkward position. Basically you want to point your nose towards each armpit. You can also try stretching your top arm up along a wall rather than bending at the elbow if it’s more comfortable.
3. Deep neck flexor chin tucks (aka the double chin exercise)
This can be a tough one. It is a very small movement but you should feel deep neck muscles turning on (this may be a very light feeling at first). If you are having trouble with this, try pushing your tongue against the top of the roof of your mouth.
4. Band rows and reverse flys
You can do these with dumbbells or a cable machine as well. If you are just starting though, it can be beneficial to use a theraband as it is lighter resistance and can help make sure the right muscles are active during the exercise and that your upper trapezius and levator scapulae aren’t taking over. Make sure your shoulders don’t sneak their way up to your ears.

Lower Crossed: 
With lower crossed syndrome, hip flexor muscles such as the iliopsoas and rectus femoris and muscles of the lower back have a tendency to be tight while the abdominal muscles and gluteal (buttocks) muscles have a tendency to get weak. To help correct this, we will need to stretch the hip flexors and lower back, while building strength in the abdominals (core) and gluteal muscles.
1. Hip flexor stretch (hold for minimum 30 seconds on each side)
Be sure to keep a strong core during this stretch as it will help to make sure you are feeling the hip flexors stretch specifically. Also, if you’re having trouble finding a good position for your stretch, try tucking your pelvis underneath yourself and then gliding your whole body slightly forward towards your front knee.
2. Quadratus Lumborum (lower back) stretch (hold for minimum 30 seconds on each side)
Try a variation on the child’s pose from yoga. Start in the centre, then slowly reach over to one side, hold, then move on to the other side.
3. Abdominal exercises focusing on core bracing, such as plank and side plank
Make sure your spine stays neutral and that abdominal muscles are held tight/core is braced. Hold for a minimum of 6 seconds on each side.
4. Glute or hip bridging
Make sure you brace your core first, then push the hips to the ceiling, focusing on the gluteal or buttocks muscles doing the work. Double whammy working on both the abdominal and gluteal muscles!
These are only a small selection of exercises that can be used to help correct poor posture and upper and lower crossed syndromes. For a more complete and individualized evaluation, please book an appointment with a physioherapist or registered massage therapist. We’d love to help you achieve your goals!
InSync Physiotherapy is a multi-award winning health clinic helping you in Sports Injuries, Physiotherapy, Exercise Rehabilitation, Massage Therapy, Acupuncture & IMS.

Poor Posture and Upper and Lower Crossed Syndromes

Many people will experience chronic pain at some point in their lives. Often times this pain can creep up unexpectedly due to poor or non-optimal postural habits. In this day and age, poor posture has become common due to an increase in screen time and desk jobs. We spend a lot of time in the day sitting or hunching over smartphones and tablets or straining our necks trying to get a better grasp on the view of a computer.

Since we spend so much of our days in a slumped position with poor posture, this can have a significant effect on the functionality of muscles and the body overall. Today, we are going to look at what is referred to as “crossed syndromes.”
Upper crossed syndrome:
The upper cross involves mucles of the neck, chest and shoulder. With a head forward posture (head is pushed very far forward past the shoulders) or a hunched posture (upper back is rounded and shoulders collapse inwards), this can either facilitate or inhibit certain muscle groups. Generally, the deep neck flexors (muscles at the front of the neck that help the head perform a nodding motion) and the lower trapezius (between the shoulder blades) do not function optimally. They can get sluggish or weak. Meanwhile, the pectoral muscles in the chest and the upper trapezius take over. These tend to be tight areas that pull the shoulders forward into an uncomfortable position. Over time, upper crossed syndrome can cause tension headaches, and contribute to chronic neck, upper back and shoulder pain.
Lower crossed syndrome:
The lower cross involves the abdominal muscles, muscles in the lower back, and muscles around the hip joint. With lower crossed syndrome, the pelvis is anteriorly rotated. This means that the front of the pelvis is pulled towards the ground while the back of the pelvis pushes out (or causes the buttocks to stick out so to speak). Hip flexors, such as the rectus femoris and iliopsoas, as well as the muscles of the low back tend to get tight, while the abdominal muscles and gluteal (buttocks) muscles get lazy. This can contribute to pain the hips in and lower back.
These are only some symptoms of poor posture. The body is connected and one seemingly small link out of place can have an effect on the body as a whole. It is important to note that these syndromes can also cause pain to spread in other areas. For example, if your pelvis is out of its natural alignment as with lower crossed syndrome, this can lead to knee pain, or ankle pain, or foot pain as it radiates down the lower limb. It can also lead to problems above the hip, suck as lower back pain, and pain along the entire length of the spine all the way to the neck and head. Often times, pain may feel like it is in one specific area, but it can be caused by unexpected yet related issues further along the chain of muscles and joints in the body.
Poor posture can also wreak havoc on your nervous system. If a joint is out of alignment, nerves can risk becoming pinched or trapped in odd places. For example, the brachial plexus (which is a bunch group of nerves) runs through the armpit and around the shoulder area. If your shoulders are being pulled forward to a hunched posture, this can put excess pressure on the brachial plexus leading to tingling or numbness in the hands and fingers.
Practicing good posture on a daily basis is important. Next week we will look at some of the common stretches and exercises that can be used to help improve your posture. Until then, if you are interested in finding ways to better your posture in the pursuit of lessening the pain you may be feeling, please come see your physiotherapist or registered massage therapist. They can give you a much more specific treatment plan!
InSync Physiotherapy is a multi-award winning health clinic helping you in Sports Injuries, Physiotherapy, Exercise Rehabilitation, Massage Therapy, Acupuncture & IMS.

Four Tips for Improving Posture

Over time, poor posture may be caused by habits from everyday activities such as sitting in office chairs, staring at the computer, cradling a cell phone, carrying a purse over same shoulder, driving, prolonged standing, caring for small children, or even sleeping.

Poor posture can easily become second nature, causing and aggravating episodes of back and neck pain and damaging spinal structures. Fortunately, the main factors affecting posture and ergonomics are completely within one’s ability to control and are not difficult to change.

Here are several ways to improve posture and ergonomics, especially for people who work sitting in an office chair for most of the day.

Identify the Warning Signs of Back Pain

Back pain may be the result of poor ergonomics and posture if the back pain is worse at certain times of day or week (such as after a long day of sitting in an office chair in front of a computer, but not during the weekends); pain that starts in the neck and moves downwards into the upper back, lower back, and extremities; pain that goes away after switching positions; sudden back pain that is experienced with a new job, a new office chair, or a new car; and/or back pain that comes and goes for months.

Keep the body in alignment while sitting in an office chair and while standing When standing, distribute body weight evenly to the front, back, and sides of the feet. While sitting in an office chair, take advantage of the chair’s features. Sit up straight and align the ears, shoulders, and hips in one vertical line. Any prolonged sitting position, even a good one, can be tiring. Shifting forward to the edge of the seat with a straight back can alternate with sitting back against the support of the office chair to ease the work of back muscles.

Some people benefit from a naturally balanced posture that is achieved by sitting on a balance ball; in this posture the pelvis is rocked gently forward increasing the lumbar curve which naturally shifts the shoulders back (similar to sitting on the edge of a chair seat).

Also be aware of and avoid unbalanced postures such as crossing legs unevenly while sitting, leaning to one side, hunching the shoulders forward, or tilting the head.

Get Up and Move

As muscles tire, slouching, slumping, and other poor postures become more likely; this in turn puts extra pressure on the neck and back. In order to maintain a relaxed yet supported posture, change positions frequently. One way is to take a break from sitting in an office chair every half hour for two minutes in order to stretch, stand, or walk.

Increase Awareness of Posture in Everyday Settings

Becoming aware of posture and ergonomics at work, at home, and at play is a vital step towards instilling good posture and ergonomic techniques. This includes making conscious connections between episodes of back pain and specific situations where poor posture or ergonomics may be the root cause of the pain.

Use Exercise to Help Prevent Injury and Promote Good Posture

Regular exercise such as walking, swimming, or bicycling will help the body stay aerobically conditioned, while specific strengthening exercises will help the muscles surrounding the back to stay strong. These benefits of exercise promote good posture, which will, in turn, further help to condition muscles and prevent injury.

There are also specific exercises that will help maintain good posture. In particular, a balance of core muscle and back muscle strength is essential to help support the upper body and maintain good posture.

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8 Ways to Have Great Posture as You Age

Good posture will do more to keep you looking youthful as the years go by than a face-lift or Botox. And the benefits of maintaining your bone health are much more than skin-deep.

Although a stooped posture may seem to go hand in hand with old age, you can help prevent the characteristic rounding of the spine that is often caused by osteoporosis and the destruction of the vertebrae in the upper and middle spine.

Here are 8 tips to keep you standing tall at any age.

Open Up

Now that many of us spend our days hunched in front of a computer. It’s very important for us to be able to stretch and open up and improve our range of motion.

To stay limber, try to get up for a couple minutes every half hour and stretch, walk, or stand.

Easy Exercises

Try this exercise: Every morning and night, lie down on the floor and make slow “snow angels” with your arms for two or three minutes.

For an extra challenge, roll up a towel and put it on the floor underneath your spine. Many gyms have half foam rollers, a tube cut in half lengthwise, that you can use for even more of a stretch.

But do these stretches slowly and stop if you feel anything worse than mild discomfort or pain. You want to work up to that, you want to make sure that you first get the flexibility.

Sit Straight

When you do have to work at a desk, sitting up with good, tall posture and your shoulders dropped is a good habit to get into.

This can take some getting used to; exercise disciplines that focus on body awareness, such as Pilates and yoga, can help you to stay sitting straight. Make sure your workstation is set up to promote proper posture.

Strengthen your Core

Pilates and yoga are great ways to build up the strength of your core, the muscles of your abdomen and pelvic area.

These muscles form the foundation of good posture, and a strong core can have many other benefits, from improving your athletic performance to preventing urinary incontinence.

A stronger core can even make sex more fun.

Say Om

In addition to helping to increase body awareness and core strength, yoga is an excellent way to build and maintain flexibility and strengthen muscles throughout your body.

Start practicing yoga gradually and listen to how your body responds, he points out. Make sure your yoga teacher is sensitive to your needs and abilities, and available for feedback. Hatha or restorative yoga are good places to start if you’re a beginner.

Support your spine

After menopause, women may have more weakening in the muscles around the spine than aging men do.

Exercises targeting the back extensors, neck flexors, pelvic muscles, and side muscles are crucial. Trainers at gyms can help; there are even special machines that target these muscles.

Endurance in the spine and trunk muscle groups is important too. That’s what allows us to stand up for long periods of time without our back hurting us.

Lift Weights

The vertebral compression fractures that subtract from our height and can lead to the “dowager’s hump” in the upper back that’s a hallmark of old age are due to the bone thinning disease osteoporosis.

Women and men can prevent these changes with weight-bearing exercises, like walking, stair climbing, and weight lifting.

People who walk regularly through their whole lives tend to have better bone density than sedentary people.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is essential for bone health, and may help us maintain our muscles too.

Try to get it from a healthy diet. A recent report from the Institute of Medicine, an independent, nonprofit organization, found that most of us get enough vitamin D from food and sunlight without taking supplements.

The recommended dietary intake for vitamin D is 600 IU a day for women up to age 70 and 800 IU for women older than 70.

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