How does our modern lifestyle affect posture?

Posture in medical terms, is the position in which you hold your body upright against gravity while standing, sitting or laying down.

Derived from Latin positura or posit meaning ‘position’ or ‘placed’.

In today’s world, we have to sit for lengthy periods of time; in traffic, at school desks, at a computer or lap top, using iPads or Smart Phones, in front of a TV, or phone texting (I see people doing this all the time). We also have to consider other stresses to our bodies over time, for example; carrying bags or daily home tasks. Gradually, most of us develop a habit of hunching, slouching or leaning forwards. During these lengthy activities, our bodies have to counteract gravity while fatigue intensifies from our hip area right up to our neck muscles. Upper shoulder muscles then begin to assist, causing pain and imbalances to the whole neck and shoulder region. Try telling this to a teenager!

Take a look at this picture of colleagues discussing work at the lap top, it happens every day.  No problems here?

But have a look at the man’s head – it’s placed well forward of his shoulders.  Also, have a look at the level of his chin – its well below his shoulders.  Thousands, if not millions, of people would do this during the day, every day, without even thinking about it.  In this high-tech world, no wonder people get Neck Pain.

What happens?

Our heads are supported by our necks, which is a very difficult task considering how thin it is in comparison.  Our neck muscles move, stabilise, feel stress, and have the burden of gravity by holding up our head.  Basically, when posture is compromised or traumatised in any way, our necks can feel pain or tension.  Pain is usually felt in the back of the lower neck area and around the front near the clavicles, as well as up very high just under the cranium.

In addition, consider the shoulders coming forwards, usually the right hand controls the mouse, so shoulder flexion with some internal rotation is required.  This may mean tight pectoral and rotator cuff muscles.

What about the hips?  Usually people sit bent forwards, so trunk flexion is a consideration.  Review and palpation of the hip flexor and hip adductor group is part of my general assessment.

If…

Poor Posture + Gravity = Tightness and Pain, then the challenge is to modify your working or social environments combined with self-discipline to help support your posture.

On the bright side, there are things you can do and consider.  During the day, set a quiet alarm to alert you every hour, so you can roll the shoulders around and take stock of your own posture.  Introduce better habits like sitting ‘taller’, walking often, pushing your chin back – it’s easy & practical.

What makes things better?

  • Accurate information and assessment of the neck and shoulder areas in addition to spinal & hip observations
  • Massage Therapy targeting areas from the base of the skull, shoulder blades, down to all back and hip areas if necessary
  • Regular Awareness of your Posture is crucial, together with frequent relaxed neck & shoulder movements
  • Self-management procedures and follow-up treatments are vital to a successful outcome

Be Aware of your POSTURE – YOU are in charge.  Get help Now.

Massage Therapy Increases Movement, Restores Function and Reduces Pain.

True or false – Top 12 nutrition questions answered!

Eggs raise cholesterol levels?

Short answer: False
Although egg yolks are a major source of cholesterol — a waxy substance that resembles fat — researchers have learned that saturated fat has more of an impact on cholesterol in your blood than eating foods that contain cholesterol. “Healthy individuals with normal blood cholesterol levels should now feel free to enjoy foods like eggs in their diet every day,” the lead researcher from a 25-year University of Arizona study on cholesterol concluded.

Olive oil prevents heart disease?

Short answer: True
The health benefits of olive oil come from the presence of  polyphenols, antioxidants  that reduce  the risk of heart diseases  and cancers.

But to get these healthy compounds, consumers should buy good-quality, “extra-virgin” olive oil, which has the highest polyphenol content. Most commercially available olive oils have low levels of polyphenols associated with poor harvesting methods, improper storage, and heavy processing.  Remember olive is best consumed cold, so use it as a salad dressing by mixing it with apple cider vinegar, salt and some dried herbs.

Sugary soft drinks lead to diabetes?

Short answer: True
The majority of health research is stacked against sugar-sweetened soft drinks. A large 2004 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that women who drank one or more sugary drinks per day increased their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 83% compared to those who consumed less than one of these beverages per month.   If you crave a drink with fizz, try soda water with some fresh lemon squeezed into it.

Nuts make you fat?

Short answer: False
As much as 75% of a nut is fat. But eating fat doesn’t necessarily make you fat. The bigger factor leading to weight gain is portion-size. Luckily, nuts are loaded with healthy fats that keep you full. They’re also a good source of protein and fibre. One study even found that whole almonds have 20% less calories than previously thought because a lot of the fat is excreted from the body.  If you’re trying to lose weight but love your nuts, stick to using your fingers as a guide – the amount that can fit on three fingers will make a good snack and stop you from overindulging.

Walking is as effective as running?

Short answer: True
Studies have shown that how long you exercise — and thus how many calories you burn — is more important than how hard you exercise. Running is a more efficient form of exercise, but not necessarily better for you. A six-year study published in the journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology in April found that walking at a moderate pace and running produced similar health benefits, so long as the same amount of energy was expended.

Drinking fruit juice is as good for you as eating fruit?

Short answer: False
Calorie for calorie, whole fruit provides more nutritional benefits than drinking the pure juice of that fruit. That’s because when you liquefy fruit, stripping away the peel and dumping the pulp, many ingredients like fibre, calcium, vitamin C, and other antioxidants are lost. For comparison, half a glass of orange juice that contains 69 calories has .3 grams of dietary fibre and 16 milligrams of calcium, whereas an orange with the  same number of calories packs 3.1 grams of fibre and 60 milligrams of  calcium. Not only that, when you take away the fibre, the sugar from the juice causes a blood sugar spike, which can leave you craving more.

All wheat breads better for you than white bread?

Short answer: False
Not all wheat breads are created equal. Wheat breads that contain all parts of the grain kernel, including the nutrient-rich germ and fibre-dense bran, must be labelled “whole grain” or “whole wheat.” Some wheat breads are just white bread with a little bit of caramel colouring to make the bread appear healthier, according to Reader’s Digest.  Whole grains are also richer in fibre, slowing down how quickly your body breaks down the bread and leaving you feeling fuller for longer.

Does coffee cause cancer?

Short answer: False
Coffee got a bad rap in the 1980s when a study linked drinking coffee to pancreatic cancer.   The preliminary report was later debunked. More recently, health studies have swung in favour of the caffeinated beverage Coffee has been linked to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, liver cancer, and even suicide.  The trick is to not drink too much!

You can drink too much water?

Short answer: True
It is very rare for someone to die from drinking too much water,  but it can happen. Over hydrating is most common among elite athletes.  Drinking an excess of water, called water intoxication, dilutes the concentration of sodium in the blood leading to a condition known as hyponatremia. The symptoms of hyponatremia can range from nausea and confusion to seizures and even death in severe cases. To avoid this, drink fluids with electrolytes during extreme exercise events.

Yogurt can ease digestive problems?

Short answer: True
Your digestive tract is filled with microorganisms — some good and some bad. Yogurt contains beneficial bacteria, generically called probiotics, that help maintain a healthy balance. Probiotics can relieve several gastrointestinal problems, including constipation and diarrhoea.
Certain brands of yogurts are marketed exclusively to treat tummy issues.  Just be careful of the sugar content and avoid low-fat yoghurts, as these have extra sugar added to compensate for the lack of taste caused by taking out the fat.

Red wine is better for you than white wine?

Short answer: True
Red wine contains much more resveratrol than white wine, an antioxidant found in the skin of grapes that has been shown to fight off diseases associated with aging. However, the amount you would have to consume to see benefits from the resveratrol is so high that the alcohol content negates the advantages. You’re better off finding a good resveratrol supplement instead

Bottled water is better for you than tap water?

Short answer: False
Bottled water is no safer or purer than tap water, although it is substantially more expensive. A recent study by Glasgow University in the U.K. found that bottled water is actually more likely to be contaminated than water from your faucet  because it is less well-regulated. Bottled water and tap water typically come from the same sources — natural springs, lakes, and aquifers. While public water supplies are tested for contaminants every day, makers of bottled water are only required to test for specific contaminants every week, month, or year.

Do you suffer from annoying afternoon headaches?

Headaches are a common complaint that patients at Focus Osteopathy report. These are often reoccurring afternoon headaches either at work, in the car or at home with the kids.

There are many causes of headaches from simple dietary causes through to more sinister causes. You should always have headaches checked by a health professional, be it an Osteopath, general practitioner, physiotherapist etc. The Osteopath’s at Focus Osteopathy are more than happy to discuss these with you.

Commonly, some headaches are thought to be a result of muscular tension, stress or fatigue. With some Osteopathic treatment it is possible to feel better and more in control.

So what can you do to avoid or reduce the occurrence of afternoon headaches?

For those niggly, annoying headaches that just seem to pop up in the afternoon there are some simple measures you can take to avoid, reduce or manage their occurrence:

  1. Drink plenty of water – Don’t forget to drink fluids, especially water, throughout the day to avoid dehydration. Dehydration can contribute to headaches and it can be very easy to go through the motions of a day, without stopping to sip any water.
  2. Take a break – Taking a couple of minutes every hour to close your eyes, move your head and neck and check your posture is very important, especially if you sit at a desk. The body likes to move so without regular breaks the muscles begin to tense up and can result in a headache. Correct, upright, seated posture with your knees below the height of your hips is also recommended. It is particularly important to give your eyes a rest when using a computer. Eye strain can result from long periods looking at a computer or reading due to the increased sensory input, also resulting in headaches.
  3. Eat something – Make sure you eat regular nutritious food. Low blood sugar due to skipping meals or reducing calorie intake commonly causes headaches
  4. Watch your caffeine intake – Headaches can be a result of drinking too much coffee then suddenly decreasing the amount of coffee consumed. Try and keep your caffeine intake to a maximum of 200mg a day – approximately 1-2 cups of brewed coffee per day. If you are trying to cut back do so over several days or weeks.
  5. Stretching – specific stretches, strengthening exercises and relaxation exercises such as lying on a rolled up towel, can assist to strengthen and release muscles. Have a chat with your Osteopath to find out what exercises might be suitable for you.

As there are many causes of headaches not all measures will work for everyone and is dependent on individual circumstances. A new pillow, some stretching advice or perhaps altering your working posture can all make a big difference to how you feel!