At Shefford Osteopathic Clinic we treat people just like you, who have done their best to avoid back pain but unfortunately need treatment. To help you in your everyday life we have set out 9 ways to help you.
1. Take a few moments each day to focus on your posture and make any corrections.
2. Have both feet on the floor when standing or sitting. Standing with your weight on one leg or crossing your legs when sitting will cause a twist to develop up through your body.
The way we sit, stand and walk is so habitual that most of us are unaware of how we are using our body. But what is good posture and why is it so important? Posture is the position in which we hold our bodies while standing, sitting or lying down. Good posture is as important as eating right, exercising and getting a good night’s sleep.
Benefits of a good posture:
- Your bones are properly aligned and your muscles, joints and ligaments can work correctly. This reduces wear and tear of joints and relieves stress, improving health and enhancing your appearance.
- Your vital organs are in the right position and can function at peak efficiency. Good posture also contributes to the normal functioning of the nervous system.
- Increased self-confidence, with one study revealing that people adopting good posture not only display greater confidence but have a stronger belief in their own abilities.
What’s your posture like?
Is your head straight and not tilted to the side?
Are you ear lobes over the centre of your shoulders and head not jutting forward or pulled back?
Is your chin parallel to the floor, not tilting up or down?
Are your shoulders level? – make sure one is not higher that the other.
Are your shoulders in line with the hips, not drooping forward or pulled back too far?
Is your chest lifted up or pointing towards the floor?
Stand with your arms by your side – are the spaces between your arms and your sides equal on both sides?
Put your hands on your hips, are both hands positioned at the same height? Do both legs of you trousers finish at the same position at the ankle?
Are your knees straight, or hyper-extended? They should be slightly bent.
Your toes should be marginally pointed outward; they should not be turned in nor turned out too far, is one foot turned out more than the other?
If you have answered “NO” to any of the above questions you may have a postural imbalance that would benefit from a professional assessment at the Clinic.
3. Make sure your work station is correctly set up – don’t forget your children.
4. Make sure your chair is supportive and you are sitting correctly.
5. Avoid sitting for long periods of time.
It is really difficult to sit correctly with our spinal curves balanced for long periods. Most of us will ultimately end up slumping, which if done for long periods of time causes us to lose the strength in our spines, increasing muscle tensions and strain leading to aches, pain and stiffness. Our hips tighten and we lose flexibility and movement which then affects our pelvis, causing congestion which may then affect our bowel habit, encouraging constipation. Our shoulders and upper back become rounded leading to possible headaches and arm and shoulder problems, not forgetting tension across the upper back. Sitting slumped also means we can’t breathe correctly, therefore taking in less oxygen, leading to decreased focus and attention at the work in hand.
Recent studies have found that prolonged bouts of sitting are strongly associated with obesity, abnormal metabolism, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and an increased risk of early mortality. Another study found that when healthy individuals who were used to taking between 6,000 and 10,000 steps a day were forced to reduce their daily steps to 2,000, they had a 60% increase of insulin in their blood in just two weeks. Higher insulin in the blood leads to an increased risk of cancer and obesity. They also gained an average of 7% abdominal fat. Again, these changes occurred within two weeks of increased sitting.
Our bodies simply aren’t designed to sit all day. Karen is a qualified DSE and ergonomic assessor who will not only train you how to set up your chair and workstation correctly, but explain along the way why it is important to you, so you understand how your body is working whilst you are at your computer/workstation. Call the Clinic today.
6. Check your sleeping position and invest in a good supportive bed and correct sized pillow.
A good night’s sleep is essential for you, to allow your body to rest and repair, but how many of you are actually sleeping well?
You will spend over 2,800 hours a year in your bed, that’s over 20,000 hours if your bed is over seven years old! Your bed needs to be supportive and comfortable, that does not mean hard. On average mattresses last 8-10 years.
Are you frequently waking unrefreshed and aching?
Do you disturb your partner or are you disturbed by them when changing sleep positions?
Do you and your partner roll toward each other unintentionally during the night?
Is your mattress lumpy and worn?
Have you had a better night’s sleep recently in another bed?
If so then you may need a new mattress/bed
Decide your priorities and concerns in advance: price, storage, size, health issues etc.
- Try a selection of beds and mattress types before you buy, and don’t shop when tired.
- Wear comfortable clothes to allow you to lie on the bed for at least 10 minutes in the positions that you normally sleep in. Try it together if the bed’s for two as you both need to be comfortable.
- Buying a mattress and base together might be a good idea. If not, check dimensions as they vary.
- Larger beds are more comfortable as you are less likely to be disturbed by your partner.
- Don’t let sales assistants influence you and don’t get swayed by advertising claims—only you can decide whether the mattress is comfortable for you!
More advice can be found at:www.sleepcouncil.org.uk and www.which.co.uk
If after changing your bed you still have aches and pains, then it might be time to visit the Clinic.
7. Sleep on just one pillow: the right height pillow.
You wouldn’t wear the wrong size shoes or clothes, but up until now there was only one pillow size. The wrong height pillows can cause tiredness, poor concentration, affect your mood and cause neck and back pain.
8. When lifting or carrying materials keep the load as close to your body as you can.
9. Squat to pick up an item.
- Try not to twist when lifting and lowering materials. Move from your feet and turn your whole body instead.
- Lift and lower materials in a smooth, steady way. Try not to jerk to lift.
- When you pick up materials off the ground, try supporting yourself by leaning on something while lifting. Also don’t bend over; instead, kneel on one knee and pull the load up on to your knee before standing. Make sure to wear knee pads when you kneel.
- When squatting to pick up an item make sure that you are doing a weight lifter’s squat with wide legs and sticking your bum out as if you are going to sit on a chair.5