Luck’s Yard Clinic work with a local company called Healthy Home office who provide ergonomic furniture for both offices and the home. They report that nationally there are 2.5 million people who suffer with back pain every day of the year in the UK and 8.9 million days are lost to work related musculoskeletal disorders each year.
Furthermore they have found that most people sit for around 9 hours a day with an average of 5 hours at work. Studies have also shown that 54% of people in the UK suffer with neck pain, 38% with aching shoulders and 63% with lower back pain.
To help our clients we have put together the following recommendations to encourage individuals to make simple changes to their lifestyle and habits to benefit their long term health.
The 1 hour rule:
We recommend that you get up and move every hour. Many people say that this is too challenging, especially if you are concentrating on a task or in a meeting. But the fact is that sitting is now considered the ‘new smoking’ due to a sedentary lifestyle being linked to health conditions such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. So getting up and stretching regularly can have a positive impact on long term health. It is easy to set an alarm on your devices to remind you.
Other tips to get you moving include:
- Using the stairs each time you go up and down in the building, and find reasons to walk to another office instead of sending an e-mail.
- You can also stand up in the back of a meeting room and/or avoid sitting during phone calls.
- Go somewhere else to eat your lunch.
- Consider ‘walking meetings’ if appropriate. Walking can help both with muscle strength, cardiovascular health, but also with creativity and ideas. Many people walk during their lunch hour now and find that they come back with a fresh mind and more motivation for the afternoon.
‘Text’ neck and posture
We created a picture some time ago to illustrate the tension on the neck when you bend forward from being upright using the weight of different dogs to show how much pressure we put on our spines when bending. We give this poster to all our patients and encourage them to put it on their fridges so the whole family can be inspired to straighten up. It really pays effort to do this as it can help with neck pain, headaches, migraines and shoulder tension.
Another classic saying we use is to ‘peel your shoulders off your ears’ – shoulders are not the new earrings! We often go around with our shoulders hunched without realising what we are doing. If you can get a colleague to remind you about this now again it will help you to become aware of this habit. As part of your hourly stretch make sure you actively raise and drop your shoulders to train yourself to be aware.
We also encourage you to have your desk assessed by the in-house ergonomic team so they can give you advice on having the screen at eye height and how to use the chair for the best spinal support. It is also important to really use the chair properly and have your knees under the desk so you cannot slouch and also have it adjusted to the right height for you. The best desk set up in the world cannot help when we don’t use it properly.
The 50/50 rule:
Our chiropractor Daniela Colores Hoglund often talks to patients about the 50/50 rule. She recommends that you pay attention to putting equal weight on both feet when you stand, ensuring an even weight on your sitting bones when you sit, and paying attention to your hips when you are carrying your bags or even your toddlers.
Chiropractor Nic Langlois also talks about standing like a tea pot. This is when we stand with our weight on one leg and stick our hip out to one side and hold the arm on the side of this hip. People often will shift their weight to one hip with one leg straight and the other bent, but learning to stand with your weight spread evenly on both legs can really help your lower limbs support your hips and pelvis and create a stable and even base for your spine to pivot from. Being even can really help your skeletal structure to be more balanced and function better as it was originally designed for you.
Most of these issues are habits that we have gradually developed since childhood. Slowly we adapt new ways of holding our bodies and spines and we are most often completely unaware of this. New technology and gadgets have made this worse and we are now seeing poor posture increasingly in our younger patients too. Be kind to yourself and don’t give yourself too much of a hard time if you find it hard to change.
To change a habit you need to first OBSERVE it, then BECOME AWARE of it, and then slowly amend and TWEAK it. It takes times. But if you get your family and colleagues on board, you can get them to remind you to sit upright, straighten your back and lift the head from the phone. We now have families who remind each other of teapot posture and having huskies on the heads. When you bring in humour it helps with changing habits.
We have created a huge library of YouTube films to help you to do this.
We also have a free app called the Luck’s Yard Clinic, which you can download on all platforms, and now from our website to your desktop or mobile phone. We have had over 460 downloads since last year so we know many of our patients are now using this aid. If you go to the exercise section you will find exercises for the whole body and also tips of posture.
Do look out for the posture button film (under the posture section) which is a really easy technique to help you straighten up. Here is the link to our YouTube channel where you can find all the films on our playlist: https://www.youtube.com/user/LucksYardClinic.
We love to help and see people make positive changes to their health.
The Luck’s Yard Clinic Team.