04 September 2013

Posture check!

Do you carry your head too far forward? Many people do, and it gets more common, the older you get.
By dropping your head forward, you are forcing your neck and/or spine to support the weight of your head without help, which puts great stress on your spine. Stress = problems, such as neck and shoulder pain, and even unto tingling fingers.

It's not enough to change your position when you walk around - you're most likely to get into bad postural habits when you're sitting (slouching?) at the computer, or hunched over the sewing machine, or involved in some other engrossing but ergonomically bad activity.

The site from which the picture comes says: "When your head is in a forward position in front of your shoulder it places excessive strain on the muscles of your neck.  This causes the rest of your body’s posture to shift and compensate for the weight of your head.  The change in the position of your head compresses the joints of your spine, chronically fatigues the muscles of your neck, creates trigger points, causes abnormal wear and tear your spinal discs, affects your lung capacity, and affects the blood supply to your head. "

Alexander technique talks about the "golden string", which in imagination supports the rest of the body from the top of your head. It's a good concept to keep in mind!

Here are some exercises to do if you're getting neck and shoulder problems, or to help prevent them.

1. At the computer or sewing machine, every 20 minutes or so, pull your neck back toward your spine and try to make a double chin; and relax the shoulders.

2. Lying down with support, such as a rolled towel, behind your neck, do that same motion, then relax; try to do it 20 times a day. (I have a neck-support pillow and try to remember to do a few before dropping off to sleep.)

3. If you have a stretchy band (or use a towel on the bias), put it around something solid and stationary, holding each end in a hand, then stand firm and pull your hands back so that you push out your chest and push your shoulders back. Aim for 30 repetitions, twice a day.

Also, any time you are sitting for long periods, you're not doing your health any favours, recent research shows - inactivity is bad for you even if you exercise as well. This is where a little disorganisation might be useful, such as having to get up from the sewing machine regularly to use the ironing board, or leaving the computer to search for papers elsewhere in the room (or make another cup of coffee); even better, set your online alarm clock to remind you to take a break. If you're watching tv, when the commercials come on, do a little housework and get a double benefit, why not?

1 comment:

Jane Housham said...

This is me a thousand times over. And I know what I SHOULD do but my neck never seems to get any better...