Have you heard of ‘Text Neck’?
Do you use an electronic device? Technology is a wonderful thing but it happened far too quickly and the human body isn’t ready for it. Working with computers and handling many other e-devices every single day of our lives is slowly helping us cultivate poor postural habits.
More and more clients attending Healthy Harmony Tenerife are complaining of upper back pain ranging from a chronic nagging to severe sharp muscle spasms. During our initial assessment and consultation it is highlighted that computers and mobile phones are being used an average of two to four hours per day and at this time our clients suggest they are hunched over, reading e-mails, sending texts or checking social media sites. If calculated over a year 700 to 1,400 hours people are putting stress on their spines leading to early wear-and-tear on the spine and degeneration.
On average the human head weighs about a 12 pounds. But as the neck bends forward and down, the weight on the cervical spine begins to increase. At a 15-degree angle, this weight is about 27 pounds, at 30 degrees it’s 40 pounds, at 45 degrees it’s 49 pounds, and at 60 degrees it’s 60 pounds.
Can’t grasp the significance of 60 pounds? Imagine carrying an 8 year old around your neck several hours per day. As you stretch the tissue for a long period of time, it gets sore and inflamed, It can also cause muscle strain, pinched nerves, herniated disks and, over time, it can even remove the neck’s natural curve.
Now let’s look at the rest of your spine…. are you sitting comfortably… still on that electronic device?
Everywhere we go you these days, on public transport, in restaurants, in the workplace and even at home we see children and adults hunched over electronic devices, above we have touched on the upper spine (neck) now we shall look at the rest of the body. When it comes to posture, the problem lies not with the casual slouching we do on the sofa whilst watching a movie. The problem is with the poor habits we have created that we now don’t realise they are happening. What can we be doing on a daily basis that is contributing to pain of our future? The body takes alot and adapts, but a continuous and repetitive behaviour day after day, year after year will give us trouble sooner or later.
Let’s look at everyday tasks and think about our posture. How do you sit at the desk at home and at the office? Or do you work from a sofa? Where do you eat your daily meals, at a table, on the sofa in front of the TV? What is your normal sitting position, crossed legged? How do stand when you brush the teeth, do the dishes, wait for the bus? In other words, how are you treating your spine as you go about life?
Have you ever thought that constant niggle in your back, the pain you have in your hip or as you turn that spasm that you get in your buttocks could be a result of how you have been holding yourself all these years?
Poor posture affects the spine and the internal organs too since the organs are indirectly (myofascially) attached to the spine. If the internal organs are constantly misaligned or collapsed/squashed then they cannot function as nature intended and so the whole body’s network is affected. This can lead to many ailments, conditions reducing lung capacity by as much as 30%. It has also been linked to headaches and neurological issues, depression and heart disease. Just imagine – taking a crowded bus, you are squashed against others, how long does it take you to start feeling unwell?
For clarification, the internal organs do benefit from being gently squeezed and twisted. When you go to your yoga class you might hear the teacher talk about massaging the internal organs with twists. That is all good stuff if you do it correctly i.e. you keep the length of the spine and don’t twist with a collapsed chest and hold it just for a few breaths. Think about this, when you have a massage, it feels good to be twisted, squeezed and stretched but you don’t want to stay in any of those positions for longer than it is necessary, do you? The same goes for your internal organs, they like a good squeeze but they need to bounce back to their neutral state soon after.
Posture also has a major impact on anyone’s physical, mental and emotional health, a recent study in Australia, had participants sit in both upright seated positions and slouched/slumped positions each group provided with the same stress inducing task… the outcome, participants sitting in an upright posture displayed an overall more positive emotional state compared to those in the slumped position, the upright position group reported higher self-esteem, as well as “feeling more enthusiastic, excited, and strong, while the slumped participants reported feeling more fearful, hostile, nervous, quiet, still, passive, dull, sleepy, and sluggish.” Something to think about?
How can we at Healthy Harmony assist you?
The main aims of our treatments are to reduce the tension within the aggravated muscles groups, reduce the pain and address the postures that exacerbate your symptoms. After our therapists has assessed your lifestyle, posture and your bodies range of movement, they will address the main issues causing your pain, utilising a range of treatments including
- soft tissue massage
- joint mobilisations
- posture correction exercise
PHASE I – Reducing Pain & Inflammation
Pain and inflammation are strong inhibitors of normal muscle and joint movement. Pain is the main reason people seek treatment, and should be the first symptom to improve!
PHASE II – Restoring Normal ROM and Strength
As your pain settles, our therapist will turn their attention to restoring your normal joint alignment and range of motion, including muscle length and resting tension, muscle strength and endurance.Our therapist will assess your muscle recruitment pattern and prescribe the best exercises specific to your needs. We may also recommend a stretching program or a remedial massage to address your tight or shortened muscles.
PHASE III – Restore Full Function
Depending on your lifestyle our therapist will tailor your rehabilitation to allow you to return to your desired activities. Everyone has different demands that will determine what specific treatment goals you need to achieve.
PHASE IV – Preventing a Recurrence
Our therapist will assist you in identifying the best way to restore and maintain good posture by providing you with posture awareness prompts and exercises for you to monitor your own progress indefinitely.
Now back to those devices we can’t seem to surrender…
While it is nearly impossible to avoid the technologies that cause these issues, as individuals we should make an effort to look at our posture and how we use this technology with a neutral spine and to avoid spending hours each day hunched over. Ironically, there is the risk that technology is disconnecting us from the most important connection of all: the connection with ourselves. We invite you to start using your electronic devices in an intelligent way, start by bringing awareness to your posture when you use them. We hear that technology and modern life is bad for us, well, only if we allow it to be so, who’s life is this? Let’s not allow our devices enslave us…be smarter!