Over the past decade I have had the privilege of being a chiropractor in Seattle, WA. In this time I have had the privilege to truly understand the pain, discomfort, and poor health that many people go through on a daily basis. This has led many on a path of health professionals, pain killers, and surgical consultations. By the time they enter a chiropractors office they are often at their wits end, and have lost all hope.
The truly astonishing part is that many patients have a few issues in common, and in my experience they relate to a poor ergonomic environment at home or work. I am sure we are all familiar with workplace ergonomics, and the importance of having an ideal workstation to reduce the stress on our bodies. However, I thought it would be an excellent idea to tell you the 3 most common corrections that a person can make so they can end up seeing a chiropractor for superior wellness care and not urgent care.
The following are the top 3 ergonomic corrections to avoid seeing a chiropractor:
Correct the height of your screen
This seems like a no-brainer, but everyday I see people coming in with acute and chronic neck pain that is caused by screen that is at the improper height or angle. By now, most companies have attempted to correct this issue, since we have been hearing about it since the mid 1990â€™s, but there is one caveat.
We now spend so much time on laptops, iPadâ€™s, and smart phones that we havenâ€™t stopped to consider the damage this is doing to our posture. This in turn has caused a major increase in the loss of a natural cervical curve which can be directly related to acute and chronic pain, as well as degenerative joint disease. That is not something anyone wants.
It is important to pay attention to the amount of time spent looking down towards a screen, and choosing to either cut back the time spent, or allocate time during the day to get adjusted and doing traction therapy to help balance the muscles and ligaments.
One seat does not fit all
One of the biggest misconceptions about a quality, often time expensive, chair is that they should help everyone the same way. Nothing could be further from the truth. In my professional experience consulting for companies and offices around Seattle, the chair should be chosen to fit each individual person.
Many people have structural problems with their spine, including loss of lumbar curvature, while others have a swayback and each needs a different support. Simply buying a nice looking chair with a lumbar addition might actually cause more harm over time. In some workplace environments it was necessary to bring in kneeling chairs with no back support whatsoever, and advising some executives to sit on exercise balls to help stabilize their condition.
What ever the case, it is important to consider each individual. This not only leads to a happier employee, but can lead to less down time and higher productivity, so it is definitely a wise investment.
Stretching your upper back the proper way
When a person comes into my office complaining of upper thoracic or rear shoulder pain, they are often in charge of causing the majority of their discomfort. In my experience, the type of stretching they have been attempting to reduce their own symptoms is actually causing more harm than good.
If you are familiar with the bending forward while dangling your arm forward to â€œstretchâ€ or pull the area of discomfort in your upper back or scapula, you are guilty of this. This motion may create a sensation, but that does not mean it is good for you. This motion actually irritates the muscle, nerve, and origin/insertion of each muscle. Over time, this will create a constant, chronic irritation.
If a person suffering from this discomfort would like to do better, stretching the opposite way is the correct action. This includes retraining the brain to understand proper posture, and strengthening the muscles in between the shoulder blades. Squeezing the should blades together for 30-60 seconds multiple times a day over the span of 30-60 days can have a significant impact in reducing the symptoms.
While all of the suggestions are good, it is still imperative to see the appropriate health professional for your condition. Chiropractic adjustments can play an important role in the natural correction and function of the body, as well as relieving pain and discomfort. With that being said, these suggestions can help you end up in a position where you are strictly seeking care by choice, and do no feel like it is the only thing getting you through the day.
Also you could try a inversion table to stretch and relieve your back pain today
Best of Luck!
About the author: Dr. Graeme Gibson, D.C. has been a practicing Seattle chiropractor since graduation from Life Chiropractic College West in 2001. When he is not at his practice he enjoys spending time with his family, playing sports, and writing about health. If you would like to read more from Dr. Gibson, follow his chiropractor blog.