As a society, we have slowly evolved from a gatherer and hunter lifestyle, to a more sedentary one. Many of us sit for long periods of time during the day while we are at work; and if that isn’t enough, we drive to and from work, we sit to eat, watch TV, and more. In our affordable Indianapolis chiropractic clinic, we frequently see patients with multiple symptoms that are directly correlated to inactivity, long hours of sitting, and poor posture.
Long hours of sitting and inactivity have proven to manifest itself in our body, by weakening the core muscles, shortening and creating tension in our hip flexors, weakening other postural muscles, and inhibiting our breathing. All of these come together to create low back and neck pain, along with other symptoms such as carpal tunnel, just to mention a few.
At our Indianapolis chiropractic clinic, we advise our patients on how to avoid this common pitfall of our current society. We highly recommend taking frequent breaks throughout the workday; this could be as simple as taking a short walk down the hallway, or standing and stretching. We encourage our patients to drink a glass of water, or a healthy beverage, such as coconut water, during these breaks to help keep them hydrated. Avoiding caffeinated beverages will help decrease your risk of tension headaches, which are already being contributed to by long periods of sitting and poor posture. If you are a coffee drinker, try to limit your intake to one up a day.
When it comes to sitting, we encourage our clients to sit all the way back in the seat, have proper lumbar support, and keep their heads back in a neutral position, with their shoulders down and relaxed. We often find ourselves leaning forward throughout the day with our necks protruded forward and our shoulders collapsed and rolled forward. It is important to be aware of your posture throughout the day. Shifting your posture slightly while sitting will also help decrease tension in your ligaments and tendons. The simple fact of awareness will create a habit of returning back to a neutral posture.
We suggest keeping your shoulders down and relaxed. Even if you are sitting with proper posture, you may slowly create unnecessary tension in your neck and traps. If you make it a habit to be aware of your tension, it will help you keep your neck and shoulders relaxed. Being aware of jaw tension, is also important, make sure you are not clenching throughout the day. Periods of stress, whether it is environmental or psychological, can cause tension we are unaware of.
Proper breathing from the belly, also known as diaphragm and pelvic floor, is also important. Adapting a new and proper way of breathing throughout the day will help keep your core engaged and keep stress tension to a minimum.
In addition to proper breathing, there are also simple exercises you can do at home to reverse the effects that long hours of sitting have on your body. Planks, whether they are traditional or side planks, for example, will help engage your core. A lacrosse ball can be used to help keep your shoulders and back loose. This will increase blood flow in the area, and decrease tension in the muscles. It is a good idea to keep a lacrosse ball with you at work; during short breaks, you can utilize the ball to help reduce tension.
Remember, it is important to make all of these suggestions a habit, and factor them into your daily routine. Being aware of your posture, tension, and breathing habits throughout the day, will help decrease the symptoms you may be experiencing, or even prevent any from occurring. Studies have shown that individuals who are happy, relaxed, and positive are more productive. If you’re dealing with neck tension or headaches by the end of the day, call Integrated Health Solutions today at 317.449.2020 to see how we can help. Until next time, stay healthy.
About Integrated Health Solutions
Dr. Charbel Harb is a licensed chiropractic physician and the Medical Director of Integrated Health Solutions. Our core belief is that each patient who walks through the doors is a person, not just a medical record or chart. Our greatest pleasure is bringing joy to our patients and helping them to fully embrace life, allowing them to enjoy each day: active, healthy and pain free.