Avoiding the mid-day Slouch

I won't dispute, ergonomics are key for any workplace. Regardless of how perfect the ergonomic set-up is however, if you assume one position for an extended period of time, it can take its toll. 

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After an extended time sitting, gravity tends to pull us down and our pelvis will often round under (as if we are tucking our tails so-to-speak). As soon as this pelvis rounds under, our low back flattens , our upper back rounds and our head slides further forward. Go ahead, try it! This posture when repeated over and over again results in an imbalance of tight short muscles, long weak muscles and a tremendous amount of extra pressure on various parts of the spine. 

Want to hack this posture and avoid the mid-day slouch? Try this simple "reset". 

1. HINGE forward at your hips (as opposed to rounding forward through your low back). You should feel your "sit bones" (ischial tuberosities) tip back behind you. 

2. Keeping your pelvis slightly tipped forward, stack your torso back over your pelvis. 

If you had been slouching, you will now feel "taller" and possibly even lighter. You may notice your head is now positioned closer to your shoulders and you have a small curve in your low back. If you don't notice much change, perhaps you weren't rounding under as much as you thought!

Check out the corresponding instagram post to learn 3 ways this posture can make-or-break your day!

Safe Shoveling: Preventing Injury

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As I write this I am looking out my office window and it appears to be more spring-like outside than late November. Alas, the snow has made an appearance and will again so it is important to protect our spines when taking on this sometimes arduous chore of shoveling.

The Canadian Chiropractic Association has 5 tips on shoveling safely this winter season. The Alberta Chiropractic Association and College also offers some highlights on shoveling techniques and even the type of shovel that can be more spine-safe.  In addition to these tips, I tell my practice members to treat shoveling like a workout (because it definitely can be as strenuous as one).

1. Warm up with movement (not static stretches) that mimic the motions needed for shoveling. Some air squats, hip circles and twists can be a gentle way to warm up the back and hips.

2. Breathe. Holding our breath upon inhale or exhale can offer some helpful bracing for the spine, however we want to be sure we are breathing as steady as possible. Often when people get lightheaded it is due to lack of oxygen to the brain so we want to ensure we have a steady flow of oxygen.

3. Hydrate. On a hot summer day it can be more intuitive to have some clean water on hand to rehydrate but when we are cold and bundled up we can forget this important step. The heavier we breathe, the more we sweat, the more water we lose. Maintaining adequate hydration will help keep our tissues healthy and resilient, and will help us recover faster from the exertion.

4. Move mindfully and stretch when complete (here is where static stretches should be used). Although it is tempting to just get all the shoveling over-with, be ok with taking breaks. We often injure ourselves when we are tired, so be mindful of using your legs when lifting, and moving mindfully instead of moving with momentum. The smallest of things can be what prevents injury this winter and allows you to keep moving. Static stretches are those we hold in one place for 30 or so seconds. Again, moving through spinal rotation, hips, neck and shoulders can help to reduce accumulated tension in the body and slow the heart rate down.

Look at shoveling as another opportunity to add movement to your day! Keep active this winter and stay safe. For further information on how to optimize your spinal health or in the event you are faced with an injury, contact me to schedule a consultation. 


Preventing Back Pain & Improving Posture...There's an App for That!

One of the best ways to prevent back pain is to keep moving. This can mean a lot of things to a lot of people though. With an estimated 1/3 of missed work in Canada attributed to back pain, being aware of preventive measures is an important consideration. Really, any position can be potentially harmful if repeated for long periods of time. Consider how many hours a day you spend sitting- reading, driving, watching television, using computers. The cumulative damage of these repetitive postures can sometimes go under the radar until pain or other symptoms surface. 

Canadian Chiropractors have developed an app to inspire daily mobility, improved posture and spinal health. It is a FREE resource with videos, printable materials and only takes 3 minutes a day. The program can be performed individually or is a great warm-up/ cool-down for daily activities.

Improving and maintaining good posture not only helps reduce or prevent back pain, but it will help to reduce daily joint wear and tear, improve spinal resilience and flexibility, and will help the body use less energy for daily tasks.

For more information and video content, click HERE or to download the app, click HERE.