Admit it. You’ve done it. Lifted the dog food bag with your back. Raked up one too many piles of leaves. Twisted while lifting your child out of the tub. Got talked into going down that Black Diamond ski run. When you think of physical stresses, these are the things that come to mind. Of course your body hurts after something like this. What we sometimes forget is that little things we do every day can cause big pains. And that’s what Dr. Stefanie Olar of 360 Chiropractic in Lacey wants to talk about, and how to ease the pain.
“There are physical stresses that take longer to present,” explains Dr. Stefanie, who owns 360 Chiropractic with her husband, Dr. George. “I am talking about micro traumas from repetitive motions and bad posture.
Here it comes…the thing you don’t want to read. Yup, sitting at your computer and looking at your phone are probably the two biggest culprits when it comes to micro traumas Dr. George and Dr. Stefanie see each day. Temporary work desks exacerbate the issue. Sitting at non-ergonomically correct kitchen tables, couches, or slouched in your bed. “Overtime, poor posture can cause muscle imbalance,” explains Dr. Stefanie. “A tug of war occurs from under and over used muscles.”
Text Neck Syndrome. By now you’ve probably heard of this—in fact, you probably read it in an article on social media while looking down at your phone…like you may be with this article! Text Neck Syndrome is what happens when we spend hours a day looking down at our phones, neck extended forward. “That forward bending posture affects the curvature of the cervical spine, the neck and shoulder muscles, and supporting ligaments,” explains Dr. Stefanie. “Our head weighs about the same as a bowling ball, and when the cervical spine is in the correct position, that weight is evenly distributed across the neck and shoulders. However, when we are looking down and extending forward, there is an unnatural strain on our neck, shoulders and spinal column.”
This unnatural position causes upper back and neck tightness, sharp or burning pain in the neck and shoulders, and headaches. You may get this when sitting at your computer too if your screen is too low and/or if you are hunched over or slouching.
Ways to Prevent Micro Traumas
Remember when your mom would yell at you to straighten up? Turns out she knew what she was doing! The best way to prevent pain associated with a desk job or too much phone surfing is your posture. Think what is happening to our bodies when we are folded over sitting for ours on end. Here are Dr. Stefanie’s tips:
- Keep your feet on the floor, or on a footrest if they don’t reach.
- Try not to cross your legs (including thighs and feet!)
- Keep your knees at 90 degrees
- Adjust your chair to allow support for your lower back, or get a back support pillow
- Relax your shoulders (I mean not tense and scrunched up to those ears!)
- Ears should be in line with your shoulders (If you were to draw a line from your ear down to your shoulder, it shouldn’t be in front creating a forward head posture)
- Keep your forearms parallel to the ground if you are at a desk
- Elevate your device—whether it’s your phone or your computer screen—to eye level. Your chin should be parallel to the floor.
- Even better…If you have an option for a standing desk, utilize it. Our bodies are meant to move, standing allows for different muscle groups to be used than those with sitting. That alternation between sitting and standing gives the body some variation through the day.
The Science of Health released an article called “Killer Chairs.”What was found was standing more lowers your risk for obesity, illness and death.
Easing Pain Due to Micro Trauma
If you are already suffering from some of the above systems, then you definitely want to follow Dr. Stefanie’s tips for prevent further issues, but you also need to get your body back into balance and correct alignment—meaning, the position it should be in so you can carry yourself without pain.
360 Chiropractic is a holistic practice that looks at your entire body to give you the best solutions to your discomfort. Of course, Drs. George and Stefanie offer chiropractic care that can help realign the neck from Text Neck Syndrome, sitting at your computer in the wrong position, driving, etc. However, they also offer massage therapy that can loosen the tightened muscles so your cervical spine can stay in the correct position. Their massage therapist, Gloria Burkenbine, LMP, is skilled in many types of massages, including deep tissue, relaxation and chronic migraines. The doctors also offer cold laser therapy, which not only helps alleviate pain, but repairs tissue and reduce inflammation that may be cause by your bad posture and/or stress.
In addition to the in-house services listed above, Dr. Stefanie and Dr. George can also help you with other things that may lesson your stress and decrease inflammation, which will also help you return to homeostasis quicker. Diet and supplementation—including taking things like turmeric and curcumin that are natural anti-inflammatories may help you. Or maybe you just need some quick ways to destress as you muddle through your work day (emotional stress tightens up those shoulder and back muscles too!). Dr. Stefanie says simple things like humming; slow, deep breathing; listen to music; or rubbing your forehead or eyes softly, all help to reduce stress and inflammation.
Schedule your appointment today to help get back into alignment and balance so you can enjoy life again. Do so by visiting the 360 Chiropractic website or calling 360.923.0360.