5 tips for the desk worker for better posture

At Dee Why Chiropractic Care we see many patients that suffer from a sore neck and back that is directly related to their workplace posture. We understand that the workplace can be stressful, juggling multiple projects and trying to get it all done before the deadline. When we are busy we often forget about our posture until our body gives as a painful reminder.

Here are some 5 handy tips you can apply to your workplace and your body will thank you for it!

Take a break.

If the project you are working on isn’t due right this second you can afford to have a break. Try and stand up and stretch out every 30-60 seconds. These are not long breaks, they will only be 1 or so minutes and it will give your body a chance to reset.

Don’t Slouch

You are probably slouching right now while reading this. Sit up straight. Slouching consistently increases tension in our low back and neck and will eventually lead to pain. Posture is a reflection of our lifestyle and if you want to be that person with a hunched over posture, keep slouching. Try and make a conscious effort to have a nice upright posture as much as possible.

Position your computer correctly.

Have the monitor at eye level approximately 45-60cm from your face. Keeping your elbows bent at 90 degrees on the desk.  Having your keyboard and mouse at a comfortable reach will minimise the stress placed on your shoulders.

Get a sit – stand desk.

With these desks you have the ability to alter the height from a seated to a standing position. So even if you stand a few hours the day you will be doing you back a favour. Standing encourages good posture and takes a lot of pressure of your back.

Have an ergonomic chair or a lumbar support.

Your chair is your best friend to support your back and posture while at the desk. Set up your chair so that it is at the right height so that your feet sit flat on the floor with your knees at 90 degrees. When you sit there should be little space between the edge of the chair and the back of your knees. We advise each chair have a lumbar (low back) support to maintain our important lumbar curve.

Try and integrate these tips into your day to counteract the effects of sitting too long.

We advise if possible to have your workstation professionally reviewed in addition to these little tips. If you have any further questions regarding workplace ergonomics don’t hesitate to contact us.

 

Scoliosis: What you need to know

Scoliosis: What you need to know!

When we look at someone from the back, ideally the spine should be nice and straight. In some cases there is a lateral or side bend in the spine in the shape of an ‘S’; this is commonly referred to as scoliosis. Scoliosis is a condition that we regularly screen for at Dee Why Chiropractic Care.

What are the signs of a scoliosis that can be seen with the naked eye?

  • One shoulder is higher than the other
  • There is a more pronounced winging of a shoulder blade that the other
  • Rib cage higher on one side
  • One hip appears higher than the other
  • Tilt of the body to one side
  • The hips appear uneven

What are the causes of scoliosis?

There are multiple types of scoliosis and the cause of them is largely unknown. There are some genetic risk factors and conditions such as cerebral palsy that can cause scoliosis but most of the time the scoliosis is idiopathic, which means that the cause is unknown. Idiopathic scoliosis is mainly seen in children and adolescents.

Scoliosis in adults

Degenerative scoliosis is seen in adults and is mainly due to age, as the spinal joints start to deteriorate over time and a lateral curve in the spine develops. A history of spinal trauma or osteoporosis in the elderly may lead to the development of a degenerative scoliosis. People with degenerative scoliosis typically suffer from back pain and stiffness, as there is increased pressure on the nerves, muscles and spinal joints. We regularly see these patients at Dee Why Chiropractic Care complaining of these symptoms due to the development of this curve. We use a combination of muscle release techniques, chiropractic adjustments and the prescription of home exercises to take pressure off the structures under increased load to decrease the pain and stiffness.

It is important for children to be screened for scoliosis

If you are a parent or have young family members it is important to observe if they are showing any signs of a scoliosis. Scoliosis often develops rapidly in preadolescence and adolescence due to the growth spurt. This condition is usually painless so it is important to keep an eye out for these symptoms before the curve progresses. There is no way to prevent a scoliosis from developing but the best way to prevent a scoliosis from worsening is early detection and treatment. It is very important to detect scoliosis early as they can cause serious health issues and may require surgical intervention.

Scoliosis is more common in girls than it is in boys and it is advised they are first checked around 10-12 years old. Boys should be first checked around the age of 11-13. Due to the serious consequences of scoliosis, at Dee Why Chiropractic Care we offer complimentary screening for scoliosis for individuals under the age of 18.

Scoliosis bracing

We screen for scoliosis using specific tests, scoliometers and analysing posture. If there are signs of scoliosis we will refer for X-ray imaging for further analysis.If we find that the scoliosis is advanced to a point where bracing will be needed we will refer out to an excellent facility based in Sydney. They make custom braces that can be hidden under clothes unlike the bulky ones of the past. They have proven in recent studies to be very effective in treating the scoliosis in conjunction with physical therapy. For any further information on the bracing of scoliosis please visit the Scolicare website

For mild cases of scoliosis and the degenerative type scoliosis found in adults, chiropractic care has been shown to provide pain relief, improve movement and help with posture and strength.

Feel free to contact Dee Why Chiropractic Care if you have any further questions regarding scoliosis or if you would like to book in a child/adolescent for a complementary scoliosis screen.

 

Excessive mobile phone use and neck pain

Text Neck: Excessive mobile phone use and neck pain

 

Text neck is a real thing and is becoming increasingly more common due to advancements in technology. Many people today suffer from pain and stiffness in the neck and upper back due to overuse of mobile phones and tablet devices.

Depending on our lifestyles we will spend a certain amount of time looking down, whether it be working at a desk or reading our favourite novel. However today we have very powerful mobile phones and tablets that can entertain us for hours on end.

This adds another activity that increases the time we spend looking down and this can lead to excess strain put on our spinal joints and muscles. Are you on a phone right now reading this? Are you slouched over, looking down? Most likely yes.

Don’t worry you are not the only one. For instance next time you are on public transport have a look around and you will notice almost everyone is slouched over on their phones. Text neck is rapidly becoming an epidemic.

Text neck is a defined as neck pain and damage that is a result of looking down at a mobile phone too frequently and for too long. This is becoming extremely common, especially due to the growing popularity of social media, games and streaming sites such as YouTube.

If you have children it is important to monitor how long they spend on these devices as it could lead to changes in their spinal alignment that could lead to chronic pain in their adult lives.

 

Effects of Text Neck

  • Neck pain and stiffness
  • Tight achy shoulders
  • Headaches
  • Postural changes
  • Spinal degeneration
  • Pinched nerves
  • Mid back pain
  • Low back pain

Dee Why Chiropractic Care’s advice

  • Hold your phone at eye level as much as possible
  • Don’t spend too much time looking down at your phone
  • Take frequent breaks from phones and desk work to reset your posture
  • Stretch out you chest and shoulders as the tend to get tight
  • Do mid back extension exercises
  • Heat packs across your shoulders if they are chronically tight
  • Listen to podcasts or music to entertain yourself

In some cases you may be experiencing significant pain and physical therapy is recommended. Text neck is a postural syndrome and for that reason we will do a full postural exam to identify where the pain is coming from and what exercises would be most beneficial to correct the problem.

Tight chest muscles and posture

 

A lot of patients that we see here at Dee Why Chiropractic Care have rounded shoulders and a slumped over posture. One of the major contributing factors for this is tightness of the chest muscles.

Not many of us think about maintaining good posture throughout the day and don’t even realise that they are slouching. There are many downsides to slouching and they include fatigue, neck and back pain and headaches. One of the muscles that get tight due to slouching is the pectoral (chest) muscle group.

Tight chest muscles and rounded shoulders are common in individuals that:

  • Spend long hours at a desk
  • Frequently use a computer
  • Spend a lot of time on a phone or tablet
  • Drive a lot
  • Bend, lift and carry often
  • Poor postural habits
  • Lack regular physical activity, stretching and mobility exercises

When we are thinking of someone with good posture, their ear should be in line with their shoulder. But when they have poor posture their head will translate forward, there is an slouch in their mid back and their shoulders roll forward. The main contributor of forward rolling shoulders is the tightness of the chest muscles.

Tight chest muscles and posture

 

Effect of rounded shoulders:

  • Increased load put on neck joints and muscles
  • Neck and mid back stiffness
  • Increased load on rotator cuff muscles
  • Headaches
  • Low back pain
  • Subacromial impingement

Dee Why Chiropractic Care’s advice

The chest muscles get tight when you sit most of the day because they are in a shortened position. We advise that if you work at a desk to try and stand up every hour and reset your posture.

Stretch out your chest muscles. Stretching the chest muscles is extremely easy and comfortable. Find a door and place you forearms on the doorframe with your arms parallel to the floor. Lean forward until you feel a good stretch in the muscle and hold for 1 minute, breathing normally throughout the stretch.

If your chest muscles are chronically tight they have most likely built up with fibrous tissue within the muscle. Use self-massage devices such as trigger point balls or hand held massagers to break up these adhesions to make it more comfortable before you stretch.

Do mid back extension exercises to counteract the slouched posture and restore movement to the joints that are stiff. The easiest way to do this is to get a foam roller and place it across your back at the levels of your shoulder blades. Support your head with your hands and arch over the foam roller for 1 minute. If this exercise is uncomfortable or aggravates a condition you might have, stop immediately.

If you have any questions about posture or any of the exercises feel free to contact us.

Start stretching out your chest and correcting your posture today.

What is the ideal spinal alignment?

 

 

A lot of us know what good posture looks like, but what does good spinal alignment look like?

Good posture

When you look around you notice people with good posture and some with not so good posture. Typically when we look at someone with good posture from the front we see that their shoulders and hips are level, and there is no tilt of the body or neck to one side. When looking at them from the side ideally the ear, shoulder, hip, knee and ankle should all be aligned. But what does the spine look like if we took an x-ray of someone with ideal posture?

What the spine looks like with ideal posture

If you look up any picture of the spine on Google images or any anatomy textbook it is always the same. When we look at someone from the front the spine should be nice and straight with no deviation to either side.

However when we are looking at the spine from the side what we want to see is these nice smooth flowing curves in the shape of an “S”. There is going to be a nice curve in each region in the spine; one in the neck, one in the mid back and one in the low back.

What is the ideal spinal alignment?

When the spine in this position it is not only in ideal alignment but it is in its strongest position. The “S” curve in the spine allows for shock absorption against gravity and prevents excess load on the spinal vertebra and surrounding muscles and ligaments.

When the spine is in its optimal alignment it also allows the joints to move freely which means the muscles don’t have to work as hard to move the joints. This is because the joints have the optimal mechanical relationship with each other.

Chiropractors work closely with the intimate relationship between the spine and the nervous system. The spine’s most important role is to protect the nervous system; which is responsible for every function in the human body.

The nervous system consists of the brain, the spinal cord and the nerves that exit the spine to supply the body. If the skull is the helmet that protects the brain, then the spine is the armour that protects the spinal cord and exiting nerves.

A dentist is someone who looks after your oral hygiene to prevent tooth decay. Similarly a chiropractor is someone who aids in preventing spinal decay to protect your spinal cord.

That’s why at Dee Why Chiropractic Care we prescribe what we call “spinal hygiene exercises” to help maintain your spinal health. You brush your teeth at least twice a day (well we assume so) so why don’t you take a few minutes out of your day to do some exercises to look after you spine.

If you have any further questions regarding ideal spinal alignment and spinal hygiene exercises don’t hesitate to contact us.

What sitting for too long does to your spine & health

Written By: James Hayes
Chiropractor

At Dee Why Chiropractic Care we treat a lot of office workers complaining of headaches, neck and low back pain caused by sitting for prolonged periods without a break!

As humans we are meant to be upright and are built for movement. Anatomically we haven’t changed much from our “hunter/gatherer” ancestors however our lifestyles have quite significantly. A large percentage of the population live very sedentary lives, working hours on end at a desk and getting little exercise.

Lets go through some of the most common conditions associated with sitting for prolonged periods:

Postural changes

When we sit, we tend to slouch. It is almost unavoidable. You can sit with good posture until the muscles fatigue and then you begin to slouch. Over the years our posture adapts to our lifestyles, which can manifest into painful conditions and premature degeneration of our spinal joints.

Weakened core

Having a strong core is important as it plays a major role in protecting the spine. However when we sit, the core is less active/contracted hence there is more pressure put on the spinal joints. Use it or lose it…heard it before? Sitting for too long leads to core muscle deterioration and fat accumulation around the abdomen.

Weak legs and glutes

Our leg muscles are meant to be strong as they are supposed to be supporting our body. As mentioned earlier when we don’t use them, we lose them. So our muscles start to waste and without strong gluts and legs to stabilise us, you are at increased risk of injury.

Muscle imbalances

Muscle imbalances occur with poor posture. Some muscles become tight and some become weak. Ultimately leading to altered mechanics of the body and increased stress on the joints (particularly the spine) that may lead to some painful conditions.

Neck and low back pain

Sitting for prolonged periods with bad posture leads to increased stress on spinal joints; commonly the discs in the low back become compressed. Compressed discs can lead to conditions such as annular tears, pinched nerves and sciatica.

The human head approximately weights about 4-5kg and while we sit our head is typically in the forward position or looking down. What this does is increase the load on the neck and shoulder muscles, as they have to work harder to support the head. This leads to tight shoulders that can lead headaches and changes in the neck curve that can lead to chronic pain and spinal degeneration.

Increased weight

No surprise here. Increased weight increases stress on your joints.

Diabetes and Heart Disease

Studies have shown that people who have sedentary lifestyles have an increased risk of developing diabetes and/or heart disease.

Moving is good for your spine and overall health. Sitting for too long increases the risk of chronic health problems such as obesity, heart disease and diabetes. 

What sitting for too long does to your spine & health

Steps to break the cycle:

  • Get out and move
  • Take regular breaks from sitting
  • Have your work station ergonomically assessed
  • Get a standing or adjustable desk
  • Get a back support
  • Stretch tight muscles and strengthen weakened muscles
  • When sitting try your best to sit upright and engage your core
Choosing the right pillow for you

Choosing the right pillow for you

Written By: James Hayes
Chiropractor

Do you constantly wake up in the morning with a stiff or aching neck? Have you considered the reason for your pain is the pillow you are using?

At Dee Why Chiropractic Care it is quite common for people to present to our office with unbearable neck pain after a nights sleep. A lot of the time it is a result of poor sleeping posture and using the incorrect pillow. 

Sleeping posture

When we talk about posture you generally think about maintaining a straight spine whilst going about our day-to-day lives, but it is also very important to address your sleeping posture. When you consider you spend approximately a third of your life in bed it is important to try and maintain the best spinal alignment and support. Poor sleeping habits can create changes in your spinal alignment and your overall posture. This may lead to conditions such as muscular strains, ligament tears and headaches.

Don’t sleep on your stomach

Before we delve into what pillow is right for you, we want to eliminate one of the worst sleeping habits people like to do, which is sleeping on your stomach. We know some people feel comfortable on their stomach but we need to break this habit.

Why is sleeping on your stomach bad?

When we sleep on our stomachs we flatten out our important low back curve that can lead to low back pain. Sleeping on your stomach also makes it harder to breathe and in some studies has shown to increase intradiscal pressure of lumbar/low back discs. Also when you sleep on your stomach you will tend to sleep with your head turned to one side throughout the night. Just imagine turning your head to the right and keeping it in that position for 6-8 hours. This can cause ligament strains, muscle tears and potentially a permanent shift of the vertebra.

Choosing the right pillow

  • Side Sleepers

    If you are a side sleeper you now have to figure out what pillow is right for your body type. The first thing you need to address is the height of the pillow. Whilst sleeping on your side you want to keep the spine as straight as possible.

    The pillow should fill the void between your head and shoulder. So if you have broad shoulders you would go with a higher pillow (high profile) and if you have narrower shoulders you can opt for either a low or medium profile pillow. To get a good gauge of what is the right one, stand up with your shoulders against the wall and then insert the pillow into the space.

  • Back Sleepers

    Just think of someone with bad posture; they have a hunched mid back and their head is in front of their shoulders. We want to avoid this position as much as possible when we sleep; that’s why back sleepers should have shallower/thinner pillow.

    Some people like using contoured pillows and they are ideal for back sleepers. A pillow that is somewhat elevated in lower third is ideal as it will cradle the natural curve of the neck and support it.

Density and Material of your pillow

Got a feather or down pillow? Toss it out! What you need is something with a memory foam/latex material of a medium to high density. These will give you the optimal support throughout your sleep. These tend to be a tad bit more expensive than feather pillows but you need to invest into good pillows considering the amount of time we spend in bed… and they last for years!

Hopefully this answered all your questions regarding picking the right pillow. If you have any more questions contact us today!

How do I know Chiropractic is for me?

How do I know Chiropractic is for me?

Written By: James Hayes
Chiropractor

When people first injure themselves they don’t know who to see. Some people take pain medication or see the GP… but what about a Chiropractor? Chiropractors are known as spine specialists however we are not limited to the spine. We cater for disorders of the musculoskeletal system including sports injuries, postural rehabilitation and repetitive strain injuries.

Every chiropractor you will see will have undertaken at least 5 years of university training to be proficient at the diagnosis and treatment of the musculoskeletal injuries.

Common conditions treated at Dee Why Chiropractic Care:

  • Neck pain
  • Back pain
  • Headaches/migraines
  • Shoulder pain
  • Poor posture
  • Sciatica
  • Pinched nerves
  • Sports injuries
  • Tendinitis
  • Ligament sprains

Whether you come in for a quick check-up on your posture or are suffering from something more complex such as disc herniation or impinged nerves, a Chiropractor will complete a thorough case history and examination to reveal the exact cause of your pain.

Don’t be the person that asks Dr Google why they are in pain, you will just end up causing yourself a great deal of stress…leave the diagnosing to the professionals.

We make sure you know exactly how and why it has happened, as we believe understanding why it has happened will prevent future episodes.

At Dee Why Chiropractic Care we encompass a multidisciplinary approach when treating your condition. We utilise an array of techniques to release tight muscle tissue such as dry needling and active releases in addition to chiropractic adjustments to get you out of pain as fast as possible.

Call or email us today with any further questions!

Sciatica Do I have it?

Sciatica Do I have it? Probably Not…

Written By: James Hayes
Chiropractor

Frequently people come in to Dee Why Chiropractic Care claiming they have sciatica despite not having it. A quick search on “Dr Google” for low back with leg pain will immediately show up with “you have SCIATICA!” You then begin to panic and then see all the causes of sciatica; herniated discs, arthritic spurs, lumbar stenosis and the list goes on…

When you have low back pain in the presence of leg pain it its important to get professionally checked. A lot of the time the patient has simple mechanical low back pain, which can be easily treated. If after we complete the diagnostic testing and then we conclude you have true sciatica we can also help!

Sciatica Do I have it?

The sciatic nerve is comprised of 5 sets of nerve roots that exit the lumbar and sacral spine. The sciatic nerve travels from the low back all the way down the back of the leg to the foot. Many things can cause low back and with the presence of leg pain however true sciatica is due to irritation of the sciatic nerve or the nerve roots that comprise it.

Sciatica symptoms and signs:

  • Low back and/or hip pain
  • Pain at the back of the leg which is intensified by sitting
  • Burning, tingling or shooting pain down the back of the leg
  • Weakness, numbness or poor motor control of the leg and/or foot
  • Usually only one leg is involved however in some cases sciatica can be present in both legs

Main causes of Sciatica:

  • Lumbar Bulging Disc or Herniated Disc

Spinal discs act as a cushion for our spinal joints and they sit in between each vertebra. When there is increased load on them they may start to degenerate and bulge (just imagine squishing a marshmallow). Bulging disc are painless however when they encroach onto neural structures in particular the spinal nerve roots they may cause sciatica.

In more serious cases a herniated disc causes sciatica. Herniated discs are more severe than bulging discs because the nucleus pulposus that is usually contained within the disc has broken through the annular fibrosis irritating the neural structures. Think of a disc as a jelly donut and the jelly has broken out and compresses the nerve. Not only is this worse than bulging discs because the herniated material causes direct contact with the nerve, this jelly contains an acidic, chemical irritant called hyaluronic acid which causes inflammation of the nerves.

  • Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

This is more common in the older adults and is a result of compression of the spinal cord or the nerve roots. The spinal cord can be compressed in the spinal canal (spinal stenosis) and the nerve roots can be compressed as they exit the spinal column via the intervertebral foramen (foraminal stenosis). In simple terms, lumbar stenosis is narrowing of the pathway that the spinal cord and nerves travel.

There are many causes of stenosis including:

  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Ligamentum flavum hypertrophy
  • Arthritic bone spurs
  • Abnormal growths.
  • Spondylolithesis

Spondylolithesis (lets call them spondys for short) is a fancy way of saying one vertebra has slipped forward in relation to the vertebra below. There are a few different types of spondys and not all cause sciatica. We have seen patients in clinic that didn’t know they had a spondy until they were seen on diagnostic imaging.

In cases where spondys do create sciatica is when the spinal canal and intervertebral foramen have been narrowed as a result of the vertebra slipping forward.

  • Trauma

Sciatica can occur from external forces placed on the low back. Most common examples include; car accidents, falls, football or gym exercises such as squats and deadlifts when done incorrectly. Usually sciatica due to trauma results from ligament and lumbar disc damage.

  • Piriformis Syndrome

The Piriformis muscle lies under your gluts and is responsible for external rotation of the hip. The sciatic nerve runs below it and in some individuals the nerve actually pierces through the muscle. When the Piriformis muscle spasms it can compress the nerve giving you sciatica like symptoms.

  • Tumours

Ok if you are experiencing sciatica or sciatica like symptoms don’t immediately think you have a tumour! Fortunately tumours are not common in the spine however if they do occur in the low back, sciatica can occur due to compression to either the spinal cord or nerve roots.

If you think you have sciatica, it is important to get assessed by a professional. The first step to relief is finding out exactly what is causing it!

Contact us today if you feel you are one of those people!

Can a chiropractor help my low back pain?

Can a chiropractor help my low back pain?

Written By: James Hayes
Chiropractor

Low back pain is extremely common, as 80% of us will experience it at some point in our lifetime. Low back pain can come on suddenly or can linger for years to the point you just get used it. Fortunately if you are suffering from low back pain, there is a solution and you don’t have to put up with it any longer!

Can a chiropractor help my low back pain? Low back pain is one of the most common presentations we see here at Dee Why Chiropractic Care. The way you present to the clinic will depend on what you have injured and the severity of it. Depending on the nature of the injury the pain can range from a recurring dull ache to extremely debilitating to the point you can’t move without breaking out in tears.

Sometimes the location of the pain will be so precise that you will be able to feel the exact location of the pain with some movements or when you cough or sneeze. In some cases the source of the pain will not be as obvious and the pain will be spread across the low back, hips and even into the legs.

How Dee Why Chiropractic Care can help you with your low back pain

The exact source of the pain needs to be identified for an effective course of action to take place! That’s why at Dee Why Chiropractic Care we take a thorough case history and physical examination to hone in to the injured tissue. When the source of the pain is identified we explain to you how and why it has happened and get to work!

If you are suffering from severe low back pain, it is important to be assessed. In serious cases we work closely with other healthcare providers to get you the best possible care!

Depending on the injury the treatment will vary. Treatments can involve:

  • Chiropractic adjustments
  • Joint mobilisation
  • Lumbar traction
  • Various muscle releases
  • Trigger point therapy
  • Dry needling
  • IASTM (instrument assisted soft tissue mobilisation)
  • Active muscle releases
  • Therapeutic ultrasound
  • Strapping

We want to get better faster and will advise you on what activities to avoid that may slow the healing process or make it worse. We will also suggest some home pain management strategies to complement the treatment.

Examples of home pain management strategies:

  • Heat or Ice
  • Certain creams
  • Stretches
  • Bracing and other supportive products
  • Ergonomic advice

Once the pain is at a more tolerable level we implement a specific home rehabilitation program to limit the chances of the pain from returning!

If you found this information helpful and want to find a solution for your low back pain, don’t hesitate to contact us.