How slouching affects your health

Your spine is designed for movement, however most of the population lives a sedentary or inactive lifestyle. A lot of people have desk jobs, sit long hours and spend a lot of that time slumped over.

Your spine is happy when it has nice curves that extend from your neck to your low back. These curves act as shock absorbers to distribute forces through your spine. Your joints will have nice fluid movement and there is less load placed on the muscles.

When you have good posture

  • You have less strain on your joints, hence they don’t wear down
  • The muscles have little load on them, hence they don’t get chronically tight
  • You have more energy
  • You breathe better
  • Less strain on your spinal cord and exiting nerves
  • Lower incidence of neck and low back pain
  • Fewer headaches
  • Increased mobility

When you slouch a lot

Our posture is a reflection of our lifestyles and if you spend a lot of time slouching, expect to develop poor posture over time. We will have changes in your spinal alignment, more stress placed your spine and you can expect the opposite of the points mentioned above.

 

Dee Why Chiropractic Care’s advice

Do your best to maintain good posture throughout the day. There are many methods that you can use to sit up nice and straight. You can get a stand up desk, lumbar support, take frequent short stretch breaks or you could even get a posture reminder device.

If you already have poor posture the good news is there is a way to correct it. The first step to fixing your posture is understanding it. We take a posture photo in clinic and explain to you what has happened to your spinal alignment and create a treatment plan to correct it. You will also be given home exercises that will complement the treatment done in clinic, specific to your posture.

Importance of shoulder mobility

Shoulder pain and injuries are a common presentation at Dee Why Chiropractic Care. The shoulder has the most mobility of any joint in the human body, however for that reason it is commonly injured.

Since the shoulder has a lot of mobility, joint stability is important to protect it from injury.

To protect yourself from shoulder injury:

  • We need to strengthen the muscles that support your shoulder
  • We need shoulder flexibility to allow it to move in a pain free range of motion

If you have poor posture and have a sedentary lifestyle, you may experience upper back tightness and shoulder stiffness. Poor posture puts you at risk of shoulder impingement syndromes and rotator cuff injuries.

Strength is an important part of shoulder stability and should not be ignored. Most people focus on strengthening the muscles that look good; the traps and deltoids. When training it is important not to forget to strengthen the muscles that stabilise the shoulder – the rotator cuffs.

The purpose of this blog is to show you some exercises that you can do at home to help shoulder mobility. You do this by stretching the shoulder muscles and doing simple mobility exercises.

Here is a short video that demonstrates stretching the muscles that contribute to rounded shoulders. Rounded shoulders put your shoulder in a comprised, injury prone position.

 

The shoulder and mid back work together. When the mid back is stiff, the shoulder compensates for the lack of movement in the spine and makes it prone to injury. The following exercise focuses on reducing your mid back stiffness.

 

The following is an easy exercise to increase range of motion in the shoulder. All you need is a broom stick!

 

At Dee Why Chiropractic Care

These exercises alone may not resolve your shoulder pain. If you are experiencing pain doing these exercises you should stop immediately and seek professional advice before proceeding. When you visit Dee Why Chiropractic Care suffering a shoulder injury we aim to restore proper function and movement to the shoulder. The goal of treatment is to not only relieve your symptoms but prevent the pain from returning.

10 benefits of good posture

Poor posture is very common in today’s population due to the nature of our lifestyles. A lot of people work at a desk, have a sedentary lifestyle or overuse smart devices. When we do these things we tend to slouch and over time our posture starts to change. Posture is a reflection of our lifestyle and if we practice poor postural habits, we will almost certainly develop poor posture.

Posture is something we pay special attention to at Dee Why Chiropractic Care. We aim to educate each patient on their posture and how we can improve it. There are many health benefits with good posture and below is a list of the most important ones.

1. Reduced low back pain

Poor posture increases the stress on the joints and muscles in your lower back that can lead to injury and pain.

2. Fewer headaches

Poor posture can lead to tension headaches due to the increased stress placed on neck muscles and joints.

3. Increased energy levels

When we have good posture there is less load placed on muscles supporting your body so they are not being fatigued and for that reason we have more energy.

4. No more tight shoulders

The head is heavy; it weighs as much as a bowling ball. When we have poor posture it pushes the head forward and it increases the weight on the shoulder muscles leading to chronic tightness. In fact every inch your head translates forward it doubles the weight on your neck and shoulders.

5. Better spinal health

When we have poor posture we tend to have changes in our spinal curves. These spinal curves act as shock absorbers to protect your spine. Changes in the curves decreases the body’s ability to distribute forces through the spine leading to premature degeneration of the joints.

6. Better breathing

When we slouch we compress our lungs and when we have good posture the lungs have more space to expand.

7. Stronger core

When you’re holding good posture your core remains active. An active core protects your spine from injury and pain.

8. Decreased shoulder pain

With good posture there is less stress placed on the shoulder and it has more mobility. It protects you from conditions such as shoulder impingement and rotator cuff injuries.

9. Greater mobility

The joints in your spine have a greater range of motion and move freely because they are better aligned.

10. Better self confidence

Studies have shown that good posture can increase your self confidence. You appear confident and self assured.

 

How to relieve mid back stiffness and neck pain

Do you slouch a lot or have poor posture? If the answer is yes, you most likely have mid back stiffness and neck pain. At Dee Why Chiropractic Care we educate each patient on how their posture is related to their neck pain and mid back stiffness and show them how to fix it.

When we have poor posture the mid back locked in a flexed/ slouched position, which then leads to increased stress on the neck and shoulders. What you should be aiming to do at home to help resolve this is working on your mid back extension to get your posture in an upright position.

Foam roller mid back extension:

When we have this posture we typically have this muscle imbalance:

  1. Tight chest muscles

  2. Weak muscles between the shoulder blades

  3. Tight shoulders

When correcting posture we need to correct this muscle imbalance in addition to working on mid back extension. The formula is pretty simple: Stretch the tight muscles and strengthen the weak muscles.

Chest stretch/ release:

Mid back strengthening exercise:

Shoulder release:

 

It ‘s important to know that correcting posture doesn’t happen overnight. You have to set time aside at least a few days a week to do these exercises. Overtime you will start to see improvements in your posture and a decrease in your neck pain and mid back stiffness.

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.

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 level of your shoulder blades.

 

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