May is Correct Posture Month

Do you spend all day tapping away on a keyboard at the office only to come home and slouch in your recliner for hours while watching TV? In both the home and the workplace, countless posture pitfalls await the unsuspecting.

In fact, poor posture can result from simple everyday activities — leaning over paperwork or straining to peer at the computer screen – and the result is muscle tension, stiffness, backaches, neck cramps and fatigue. In fact, some 80 percent of Americans have not only endured back pain, but contribute to it in the way they sit, exercise, work and sleep.

This May, during Correct Posture Month, sponsored by the American Chiropractic Association (ACA), talk to Dr. Jerry Dreessen or Dr. Jason Gilmore from Back To Action Chiropractic about ways to alleviate the postural habits that can have a negative impact on your overall health.

“Once established, poor posture creates a chain reaction throughout the body,” said Jerry Dreessen, DC. “The digestive and respiratory systems will be affected by poor posture, especially poor sitting posture. And in more serious cases, where poor posture has had major effects on the musculoskeletal system, there can be a resulting negative impact on the vascular system.”

“On the flip side, maintaining good posture is a way of doing things with more energy, less stress and less fatigue. It is never too late to change our behaviors in an effort to improve our posture,” Dr. Dreessen explains.

What constitutes good posture? Good posture keeps all body parts balanced and supported. When standing, it should be possible to draw a straight line from the earlobe, through the shoulder, hip, knee, and into the middle of the ankle.

Because people find themselves in several positions throughout the day (sitting, standing, bending, stooping and lying down) it’s important to learn how to attain good posture in everyday situations. The ACA offers these suggestions:

At the Office

It is not only jobs in construction or other labor-intensive fields that cause on-the-job-injuries. Typing at a computer all day can be equally stressful on a person’s wrists, shoulders, neck and spine, resulting in painful impairment.

If you work behind a computer, work to improve your sitting posture by:

* Making sure your chair fits correctly. There should be 2 inches between the front edge of the seat and the back of your knees.
* Sitting with your knees at approximately a 90-degree to 120-degree angle. Using an angled footrest to support your feet may help you sit more comfortably.
* Positioning your computer monitor so that the top of the screen is at or below eye level.
* Keeping your wrists in the neutral position while you type, not angled up or down. A wrist rest can help you to keep a more neutral wrist posture. The mousing surface or mouse pad should be close to the keyboard, so you don’t have to reach or hold the arm away from the body.
* Taking frequent, short breaks from your work. Be sure to stretch your hands, arms, shoulders and legs during your breaks.

Use this website as a means of calculating your ideal workplace ergonomic set up.

Lounging and Sleeping:
Sometimes the simplest of activities-such as relaxing or even sleeping-can wreak as much havoc on our bodies as spending long hours at a computer can. According to Dr. Krippendorf, “People spend a lot of hours sitting in chairs and recliners. The painful fact is that much of the furniture we sit in can damage our bodies. It is so important to select furniture that employs sound ergonomic principles.”

Keep the following in mind when selecting a living room chair or recliner:

* Look for furniture that fits the person who will most often sit in it. The “one-size-fits-all” approach is not a good idea when selecting furniture.
* Find a chair that offers plenty of support to both the neck and the lumbar region (lower back).
* Purchase a portable footrest that can be moved around a room. This will help smaller people use chairs that may ordinarily be too high for them.

If you can only dream of getting a good night’s sleep with that uncomfortable mattress and sagging pillow of yours, consider the following simple tips to help you select the right mattress and pillow:

* When choosing a mattress, look for one that is comfortably -and selectively-supportive. Selective support allows you to press down one area of a mattress, leaving other areas unaffected.
* Be sure to choose a mattress that is finished on both sides so you can “rotate” it, just like you would your car tires. Every few months, turn it clockwise, or upside down, so that body indentations are kept to a minimum.
* Be selective when choosing a pillow. When lying on your side, your head and neck should remain level with your mid and lower spine. When lying on your back, your head and neck should remain level with your upper back and spine. In other words, your pillow should not be so thick that it causes your head and neck to be propped up or angled sharply away from your body.

For more information on the importance of correct posture or any of the tips mentioned above, contact the Doctors of Back To Action Chiropractic at (425) 670-2600 or feel free to check out the Back To Action website for more helpful information.

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