Viewing entries tagged
posture

Back to school part 2: Are your kid's bodies ready to perform?

If you have ever looked at your child’s schedule and thought; “how do they manage that?” then this post is for you.

It’s weird. It feels like kids are exactly as lazy as they have always been, yet at the same time, busier than ever.

What I mean by that sentence is that it feels like kids of all ages are expected to participate in a lot more than has ever been expected of them in the past, yet at the same time, as people they are no different than we all were when we were their age.

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Their time commitments may be larger than children even as little as 15 years ago, but their desire to not have to take out the rubbish, spend as much time in front of a screen as they can and at a certain age, exhibit inexplicably rude attitudes towards their parents is exactly as strong as ours was at the time.

I joke of course…when we were sarcastic and rude, we all had good reasons I’m sure.

Children are often expected to participate in at LEAST one (in my experience usually two or more) extra curricular activity, taking up multiple evenings throughout the week, then perform their chosen sports/activities on the weekend, as well as fitting in other commitments.

Yeah Kieran we get it, we are the ones who have to drive them around, what’s the point?

Thats a good question. The point is, if you think about how much is physically required of school aged children as well as mentally, the concept of performance becomes really important.

‘Performance’ doesn’t only applies to athletes.

Martin and myself have spoken to many work places about the concept of what we call Corporate Athletes. Let’s face it, if you are spending the time reading this blog, you likely already know hat I am talking about.

The term applies to anyone who, although they have a demanding schedule within their occupation (be it corporate or otherwise), as well as family and social commitments, they still demand and expect a lot from their body physically.

People are getting up earlier, finishing later and have less down time than ever, and on top of all this, we plan to exercise, play sport or even just actively participate in life and so we are forced to make choices that will support our body to keep up.

A lot of adults that we see don’t choose care because they are injured, in fact most of our clients see us to REACH and STAY at their peak performance, whatever that looks like to them.

The point, as you so rightly asked for earlier?

As adults we recognise that niggles and aches can be warning signs that we are not fully on top of things, yet we quite often think that because our children haven't had the time to build up issues and don’t have to live as busy a life as we do, that they should be able to push through.

With all due respect, I disagree.

I am not for one second think that I have EVER met a parent who doesn’t care more about their children’s heath than their own. Thats ridiculous.

I DO think that the traditional way that Australian society views personal performance, maintenance of health and injury prevention needs a re-think, especially when it comes to kids.

Think about your average week.

I don’t know who you are but I am willing to bet it contains varying amounts of the following:

  • More screen time than you would like,

  • less sleep than you know is ideal,

  • stress (from anywhere, be it work, friends, deadlines etc)

  • trying to exercise an appropriate amount,

  • attempting to make the best choices for food as you can,

  • socialising,

  • commuting and if you’re lucky,

  • some down time.

When you look at this list, does it vary that much from a child's week from late primary school onwards?

I don’t think that your kids have it harder than you do, but if you had to do all the same things that they are required to do in a regular school week, do you think your body would feel better, worse or the same as what it does now?

When you think about the recurring ‘niggles’ your body has built up over the span of your life time, if you could go back in time and stop yourself developing the habits that lead you to developing them, things like your posture, the way you run, the lack of rehab on that rolled ankle from basketball, when in your life would you go back to in order to make the biggest change to where you are now?

I am not a betting man, but I am prepared to wager that you’re thinking that when you were at school would have been the best time to get on top of those problems.

The reason we didn’t do anything about our issues then, is because children can’t feel issues they way we do as adults.

Younger people are actually not wired to feel the types of pain that you and I are as adults.

Ever wonder why an 18 and a 28 year old footballer can have the same injury on the same week, and the 28 year old might miss 2-3 games while the 18 year old seems to be back the next week?

It isn’t because they are stronger, it is because their nervous system hasn’t fully developed enough to tell them they are injured and need to take it easy.

Neurologically, we are adolescents until our early 20’s. The last section of our nervous system doesn’t fully form until we are around 24 years of age and I am sorry to inform you…that last section is dedicated to a type of pain that young people just can’t feel.

They can have the same injury, and the same amount of healing needs to take place as it does for older people, but they remain blissfully unaware of just how sore they should be.

This is why you just don’t bounce back the way you used to. Sorry.

I am not sure but i suspect it’s the same reason that hang overs only start to really exist later in your 20s…more bad news.

You are right about one thing though, their posture is getting worse.

Most parents that we see in practice went through school at a time when computers were something you had yo go to the computer labs for, and the internet was confined to one family computer that you only got to use when no one else wanted the phone line.

Sure, we sat a lot and watched TV, but long periods looking at laptops is relatively recent, and we NEVER got to look at a smart phone.

Think about your posture now, having had a childhood that only had you looking at desk tops and TV screens…can you imagine what you would look like now in your 30’s and 40’s if from a young age you didn’t just slouch, you put your head completely forward to look at a screen you hold at your chest of sat flat on your lap for hours a day?

The reality is, we don’t actually know for sure just how large an impact this terrible posture will have on our children by the time they are in their 40’s because the life they are living has literally never happened before!

So what can you do?

Thankfully, there is plenty.

Firstly, I want you to keep nagging them about their posture. You are right to be concerned. Remember that a forward head posture leads to headaches, neck and back pain, shoulder injuries, decreases shoulder range of motion and worst of all in most kid’s opinion, does NOT look cool as an adult. Help them be the only one of their friends who stands up properly in their 30s.

Secondly, encourage them to be proactive. Help them see that what they are doing week in and week out is a lot to ask of their body and they need to focus on how it is performing to stay at their peak.

Third, make sure they are wearing their back pack correctly and are aware of how heavy it is.

Finally, make sure they are in good shape to start the school year by getting their niggles from the school holidays checked before they jump straight back into it.

A large portion of our practice at Align are families with school aged children.

This is no accident. Both Martin and myself started seeing chiropractors when we were at school and Align has always been passionate about the health of whole families and so we strive to be accomodating to their needs.

I know I speak for the whole team when I say that we love it when a whole family comes to visit us, it is always a highlight of Martin or my day in practice.

We hope you have had a fantastic school holidays, looking forward to seeing you in the practice soon.

Back to school pART 1: Are your kids set up to succeed?

If your children are headed back to school later this month then read on, this post is for you even though it’s about them.

It’s time we talked behind your kid’s back. Literally.

Being a chiropractor I might sound biased, but now is the perfect time to set your child up for success at school this year and make sure that their bodies look after them throughout.

Over the space of two posts about getting ready to be back at school, I want to challenge you to think a little differently about how you send your little one (and let’s face it, they are always your little one even when they aren’t physically so little any more) off to commence their school year.

Back Packs

In the video below, the Australian Chiropractors Association have spoken to a number of parents about their thoughts and experiences with how their children are affected by their back packs.

I think it’s an important reminder that, especially when they are young, our children’s spines are still developing, so the stress and strain that we put upon them physically can literally play a role in how their body works for the rest of their life.

The rest of this post might seem familiar to a few of you, and that’s because it is a slight edit of our back to school post from last year. The reason it remains largely unchanged is that the information is still accurate, the message still relevant, and our commitment to you through free back pack fitting for your children is ongoing.

So what happens when back packs aren’t right?

An ill fitting, incorrectly worn or over weight back pack can be a precursor to spinal issues and even exacerbate existing problems.

in fact, research suggests that back packs should not be heavier than 10-15% of the body weight of the child carrying it, yet how many times have you picked up your child's bag and thought it would be uncomfortable for YOU to wear?

An international study printed in Spine found that 79.1% of children find their backpacks are heavy, and 46.1% complained that their bags caused back pain.

This is made worse by the fact that in the same study, it was discovered that even though nearly half of the students had back pain, 33% of all of the students were still wearing their back packs too low!

If you want an idea of what happens to posture and spines when you wear a back pack incorrectly, see the photos of our amazing practice model Nicholas below. Nicholas has great posture and is more active than an average boy of his age. (On top of that, he is hilarious and an absolute gun for being a part of this post!) As you can see, none of that matters when he wears his bag incorrectly.

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Nicholas shows us what happens when your back pack is too low, note that his head is forward, his shoulders are rolled and his low back has increased curve. 

The reality is, this overloading and incorrect loading of your child's spine may be putting them at risk of longer term spinal damage.

Add that to the time spent sitting or looking at the screen of a phone or iPad and....well I don't need to tell you what this means for posture. 

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I have previously discussed the issues with poor posture at other times in this blog, (for a look at a more in depth discussion about posture, read the post here) but in summary, poor posture is bad, and the longer it's left unmanaged the worse things get.

SO WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?

At Align we are concerned about the future of younger generation's health and posture, which is why Martin and I will be providing free back pack assessments to ensure that your child starts the year off with their best foot forward. 

It is always fascinating to see how a small adjustment to a child's backpack can have far reaching effects. 

If you would like to book a Back Pack assessment for your children, please do not hesitate to contact us on 9696 1057.

How to set up your car seat

If you spend a lot of time in your car then this post is for you…and let’s face it, if you're reading this you most likely live in Melbourne, so there is a good chance you DO spend too large a portion of your life driving, sorry, I mean, in traffic.

If reading this whole post isn't really for you, then feel free to skip down to the end where I will summarise how to set yourself up in your care in a checklist.

Note how her head is sitting comfortably above her shoulders? Ideally shed have 2 hands on the wheel also…

Note how her head is sitting comfortably above her shoulders? Ideally shed have 2 hands on the wheel also…

What is the issue?

As a society, we appear to give a lot of attention to ergonomics for when we are setting up an office work station, or using a computer, but thats often where our attention to the issue ends.

We are guilty of it too!

If you follow this blog you will know that we have recently posted about how best to set up your computer or your laptop, we have talked about ways to avoid text neck when using your smart phone or tablet. We have even discussed how to sit and the importance of limiting how long we sit for, yet all of those are predominantly centred around screen time, or when you are in an office.

The reality is, the office, be it at work or at home is only a PART of how we spend every day. Important as good ergonomics are during these times, we need to remember that improved spinal health, being mindful of our posture and maintaining high levels of function are 24/7 activities.

We are the result of what we do the most.

To be more precise, our body will get better at whatever we ask it to do the most, so it is important to ask yourself regularly throughout the day:

“What am I asking my body to do right now?”

This is why we often tell our clients that the most important thing they can do for themselves throughout the work day is to get up out of their chair and move around.

One place where getting up and moving around is not really an option however is when we are in the car.

Kieran, I will not be getting a beaded car seat cover so don’t even mention it.

Fair point. I wouldn't want one either. I am far too car proud for that.

Most of my clients will probably already know that I am into cars and that I love driving.

I am fortunate enough that my commute is very short, so much so that I mostly get the opportunity to walk or ride my bike to the practice. I do however get to spend a lot of time in the car though, as I enjoy driving almost everywhere else and spend most of my weekends heading out of the city to go camping, hiking or traveling to visit family in Bendigo.

One thing I don’t like about driving though, is how easy it can be to make myself very sore if I haven't set the car up properly.

A poor driving position can lead to (among other things):

  • Low back pain,

  • headaches,

  • sore shoulders,

  • pins and needles in your legs or arms,

  • fatigue,

  • Sciatic pain and most dangerous of all,

  • an inability to control your car properly.

Setting your car up is easy

Fortunately we live in a world where other people have done most of the hard work for us and your car is no exception.

Car companies have employed a literal team of people to make your car so that it is able to get you to YOUR ideal driving position, however most of us rarely use all of the functions they have bent hundreds of hours developing.

It doesn’t matter whether you drive something fun and sporty, or purely as a taxi you use to ferry your children, the following suggestions should be able to apply to nearly every car you drive.

Step 1: Seat height and distance

When it comes to how high you sit in the car, too much of anything is a bad thing. Too high and you have to bend down to see out of the window clearly, too low and you will struggle to see everything you have to avoid.

You want to be a comfortable height to be able to see everything easily over the steering wheel without extra effort. Seems like a no brainer I know but you do wee some weird things out there.

Distance from the pedals is important too. You never want to be reaching for the pedals…obviously but you don't want to have your knees too bent either.

If you are too close, you have to actively position your feet for too long leading to hip issues. On top of this, if your knee is close to or is resting on the dash board, then your leg bones will have to act like an air bag to slow you down in an accident…which is less than ideal if you're the kind of person that enjoys having legs.

Ideally, the best distance from the seat to the pedals would mean that in a manual car, your knee should be *almost* straight but not quite when you press the clutch in all the way. About a 5 degree knee bend in that position should be it.

In an auto, the same rule applies for you to be able to leave your foot on the foot rest (look for it, you most likely have one to the left of the brake pedal) but if you don't have one, you should have that same 5 degree knee bend when your foot rests on the firewall (thats the carpet behind the pedals).

This should also mean that when you take your left hand off the steering wheel it should be able to rest comfortably on the gear stick without having to reach for it, allowing your shoulders to remain relaxed.

Step 2: Steering wheel position

Have the steering wheel at a distance where you can relax your hands onto the 10 and 2 positions on the wheel without leaning forward and having to round your shoulders, keeping a relaxed bend in your elbows.

This means you have the most control of the wheel without having to grip onto it, strain your shoulders or your low back to reach for it.

Another easy way to know if its in a good spot, is when you rest your wrists onto the top of the steering wheel, it should sit *just* at your wrists.

Move it to a height where your hands can sit at 10 and 2 roughly in front of your shoulders, you don't want to have to go reaching up or down to find the steering wheel.

Most cars now have an electric steering wheel movement, but if not, its easy to unclip the handles on the steering column and play around with its position, moving it up and down or forward and back. Take your time with its one, when you get it right, you’ll know.

Step 3: Head position

If you have done the other two right then this should already be set, but just make sure your head isn't having to lean forward too far and is relaxed over the top of your shoulders.

If it is leaning forward, readjust your steering wheel closer to you.

Watch out for car seats that push your head forward. Bad posture is so common that engineers in some car companies have started building their seats to have the head rests moving forward to meet where they assume people with poor postures heads will be.

This forces you into a bad position and over time will GIVE you forward head posture. Personally I have not been able to buy certain cars because of this, and I know it has meant Martin has had to choose a different brand when replacing one of his.

You also shouldn’t need to rest your head back on the head rest.

The name is deceptive, you should have active control of your head, it shouldn't have to be pushed back into the head rest. Its the name of a safety feature in a crash, not a suggested use.

Step 4: Lumbar support

If your car has inbuilt lumbar support, don't be afraid to use it. When you find the right spot for you, you will be amazed that you ever drove without it.

If need be, you can always buy a lumbar support pillow to use when you are driving for long periods or on longer road trips.

Step 5: Never drive with something in your back pocket.

Thats right men who keep a wallet in your back pocket when you're driving, I am talking to you. I don’t care how long you have done it for, it causes an unevenness under you that WILL eventually lead to back pain and even sciatica in some cases.

The same goes for mobile phones. They seem small but even on a short trip they make a difference to how you have to sit. I don’t care HOW short the drive is.

Again, it seems obvious but people do it.

Step 6: Take breaks regularly.

Especially if you are driving a distance. They don't only stop you from feeling fatigued, they allow your body to wake up as well, and they don’t even have to take long! Even a 2-5 minute walk can do the trick.

As promised, here is the checklist:

Step 1: Height and distance

Seat at a height where you can see everything without straining to have your eyes above the wheel or below the sun visors.

Sit at a distance where your foot can relax at the back of the foot well with your knee bent slightly to around 5 degrees.

Step 2: Steering wheel

Bring it close enough to have a slight bend in your elbows when your hands are at 10 and 2, you should be able to rest your wrists on the top of the wheel without reaching for it with your shoulders.

Step 3: Head position

Like sitting at a computer, above your shoulders, not poking forward at the steering wheel.

Step 4: Lumbar support

Play around with it until it feels good for extended periods. This might take some experimenting. If you need to, buy a support cushion.

Step 5: Nothing in your back pockets.

Step 6: Take breaks.

If you have any questions or concerns, would like to chat about how to set up your car please contact us at Align, we would love to help you.

However, if you're happy with your car set up but would like to chat about cars specifically, please feel free to talk to me about it…don’t bother talking about them with Martin…they aren't really his thing.

Kieran

The most important step to choosing the right pillow

If you are one of the many people who are not sure where to start when selecting a pillow then please watch our quick video on what we think is THE most important step when making your choice. 

Let's face it, there are too many options for pillows out there. There are so many materials, shapes, and seemingly random options for you to choose and the hardest part for a lot of our clients is that nearly all of them seem incredibly expensive! 

Choosing the right pillow for you is very important but it shouldn't be something you lose sleep over. 

At Align we believe that there is one simple factor that you need to consider above all else before settling on a new pillow.

If you have any further questions after you have watched the video about choosing a pillow or how best to approach sleep to manage your issues (be it posture, neck pain, low back pain or headaches), please do not hesitate to contact us at Align. We have a select range of pillows on hand at any time that are available to you even if you have never been in before. 

Knowing how important sleep is to our community, we are always happy to offer a complimentary pillow fitting for you so that you can be confident that you are making the right choice. 

Watch our video below to hear what advice Drs Martin and Kieran start with for anyone who is considering an updated pillow. If you'd prefer not to watch, the clip has been transcribed below. 

Hi, Martin Harvey from Align Chiropractic here. 

One of the most common questions that we get asked in practice is: “What sort of pillow should I be sleeping with?”

We have people coming in who have entire collections of pillows, made out of everything from feathers, through to the latest space-age materials, and they wonder: 

“Why can't I find a pillow that’s comfortable for me?” 

The first thing that we always want to make sure is that the pillow is the right size and the right fit for you. 

Obviously some people are different sizes and there are also people who choose or are most comfortable in, different sleeping positions. 

Make sure you check out our “which sleeping positions should you be using” video as well, but if you’re somebody who predominantly sleeps on your side, then you're going to need a larger pillow. 

In side sleeping, the idea of the pillow would be to take up a significant amount of the space between your shoulder and your neck, so that it’s supporting your neck. 

If it is not, when you’re sleeping on your side and it's too low, your pillow is going to force you to tip over quite a bit that way, and at the same time if it's too big for you, it's going to tend to tip you the other way. 

If you're somebody who mainly sleeps on your back, then wanting to keep your head fairly balanced over your shoulder, you’re not going to want to big a pillow because a really big pillow is going to tend to force you forward quite a bit.

To that end, the type of pillow that typically is the best compromise if you're one of the many people who sleep a bit in both is a contoured pillow. 

The contour allows the thicker part of your head when you're lying on your back to be in the contour and it also supports your neck without forcing you too far forward. 

This is a low-profile pillow and this would be for somebody who primarily sleeps on their back or they're a smaller person who sleeps on their side.

If you're a bigger person who's a side sleeper, then you're going to want to go to a larger, higher profile pillow. 

You can see here that it's much thicker than the other pillow, again it's the same basic structure. 

So there you have it, a simple way of getting a bit of an idea of which pillow you should be using. 

The most important first thing is that it's less about the material that it’s made from these ones are made out of latex which is a really comfortable and durable material but the most important thing is to make sure you get the right size based on how big you are, as well as your preferred sleeping position.

Sleeping position: How should you sleep to avoid neck pain?

This post is for people wondering about the best position to sleep in, especially if they suffer from neck pain, upper back pain, neck tightness or forward head posture. 

How should you sleep to avoid neck pain?

We frequently get asked 'what the best position to sleep in?'.

Although this question has many answers depending on the specific needs of the person, we wanted to address what we see as one of the most common sources of issues for our clients, and that is to focus on head and neck position. 

The aim is to take the pressure off the structures supporting your head, as well as allowing your body to be as comfortable as possible throughout the night. 

We hope that you can get some insights from this short video to help your body work with you in your efforts to alleviate neck pain etc as well as improve your posture for the whole third of your life you are SUPPOSED to spend asleep.

As with all our videos, this one has been transcribed below.

Be sure to check back on this page next week when Martin explains how best to choose a pillow.

If you have further questions about making the most of your sleeping position, please do not hesitate to get in contact with us. 

Never underestimate the importance of good quality night of sleep!

 

Hi, it’s Martin and Kieran from Align Chiropractic and one of the most common questions that we get asked every day in practice is: “what position should I be sleeping in?” 

What I want to go over today is (in our opinion) the two best positions that we want to be in when we're asleep, and it's really very similar to what we're looking for when we're looking at your posture when you are standing up. 

What should your sleeping posture look like?

If we have a look at Kieran’s posture, what we're really looking for when we look at somebody’s posture from the front is when we look at head posture, does the head line up coming in the middle of their chest we don't want to see posture that's tipped over this way or twist it around or whatever. 

When we translate that to sleeping position, we’re trying to set up a sleeping pose so that our posture is in that ‘ideal’ position. 

Kieran, if you can turn side on, we want to see the same thing, because our bodies are in three dimensions we’re also looking to make sure that our posture is lined up from the side so that this big weight about our head is balanced over the big weight of our chest so we're looking for our ear over our shoulder to balance up, so again if we translate standing posture to lying down posture, that’s what we're looking for there. 

Sleeping on your back

So, what I’ll get you to do now Kieran, if you can lie down on your back for me and if we look at posture from the side here, we've got the right position here, lying on our back we've got a pillow set up properly.

What we're really looking for is that same thing where we've got that ear kind of balancing up over the shoulder. 

What about side sleepers?

Now if we can now turn into our side posture, what we're really looking for here again is, if we're looking at the middle of the face we're wanting that to be almost a straight line. 

We don't want it this pillow was too low, then it would allow his head to tip… well that's way over to the side but similarly if we had a higher, pillow it's going to lift that up too high. 

So we're looking for a straight line there, we want that lining up, kind of at the middle of the chest so that again, we’re keeping that perfect posture while we’re spending the seven and a half to eight hours in this position while we're in bed this way. 

I hope that video is useful gives you a bit of an idea that the two best positions for you to sleep in are either on your back or on your side, because it's really important to make sure that your spinal posture is in a great position while you're asleep.

 

How to set up your desk if you use a desktop computer in 4 steps

This is a post for people who want to know how to set up their desktop to work on or for longer periods of time in the office or at home.

It is especially good for people worried about or who suffer from tension headaches, neck or low back pain, high or sore shoulders, or other postural issues such as forward head posture.

In the video, Martin (once again using Kieran as an ergonomics model extraordinaire) talks us through the correct ergonomics of how to set up our desktop as a workstation.

Please enjoy the quick video. 

For your convenience, the ergonomics demo has been transcribed below.

Hi, Martin and Kieran and we are here to give you a quick instructional video on how to set up your desktop computer so that it puts you in the best position to look after your precious spine and nervous system that you have, given that we are spending so much of our day working on computers.  

We have got a separate video that shows you how to set up for a laptop. There are some similarities but there are a couple of really key differences when you’re setting up for a desktop, so we'll run through everything here as well. 

Just like with the laptop setup, key thing is we're gonna start from the bottom up.  

Step 1: Seat height and foot position

First thing is, Kieran has his feet absolutely flat on the floor, he’s not crossing his legs which would create a twisting torsion through your lower back then cause tension to build up through the day. 

Next, we set the height of the chair. If you have a gas lift chair, you want the height of a chair so that your hip is either at the same level as his knee, so we've got a horizontal line, or so that the hip is slightly higher than your knee because that allows him to maintain a really good lower back position. 

If you sit with your hips lower than your knees it's really easy of get into a rounded posture, causing horrible loading up of tension in your lower back. 

Step 2: Position your arms, elbows, keyboard and mouse

So once we've got that position we then want to make sure that the height is still okay for his elbow position. 

What we really want is as close to possible as a 90 degree angle at the elbow so that you can have relaxed shoulders while your hands are on the keyboard. 

What we don't want is to be sitting too high, so that you have to reach down or too low, so that you’re scrunching shoulders up to get your fingers onto the keyboard. 

That height looks pretty good.

Then what we want to do is to zoom in or out, so that we've got a nice relaxed position here. 

If Kieran was too far back he'd be reaching and then having to use all those shoulder muscles to hold his hands on the keyboard. 

What we want is that so that his arms are nice and relaxed by his side while he's using the keyboard. 

The same rule applies to the mouse.

A lot of people may have the keyboard set up right but then end up having the mouse right across the desk where it’s causing a peep of pressure through their shoulder that feeds back up into your neck and causes all sorts of problems. 

So once we've got that set up, this is where it's a bit different to the laptop setup. 

3. Screen Position

With a desktop, the screen can be moved to two different positions depending on how often you needing to look at your keyboard. 

If you touch type or you're doing a lot of data entry where you're very rarely looking down at the keyboard, then you really want the screen to be a bit higher than we've got it here. In that case, the landmark that I always use is the absolute dead center of the screen.

If you are the type of person who needs to look down at the keys periodically you don't want the screen too high, otherwise you make yourself dizzy going up and down. 

So the compromise in this instance is to have the centre of the screen at about chin level and that way you're never looking too far up, and you're just working in this range. 

If you're the sort of person who can touch type and you don’t really need to look at your keys, then you can go up higher which has the advantage of having a posture where your head is more balanced over your shoulders. 

What we have here is a set up that is good for Kieran if he can touch type. 

If he doesn't often need to look down at the keys he can spend all of his time just looking straight ahead at the screen. 

So for this setup, what we've done is put a couple of books underneath the screen here, to raise it up, allowing us to have the centre of the screen at the point where it's hitting here, in-between the lip level or the tip of his nose.

That's a really comfortable posture for him to be able to look at the screen and have his head posture really nicely balanced over the shoulder, meaning a nice relaxed position through here. 

When you're in that position, you are not building up so much tension on your neck and shoulders etc. by looking down all the time. 

Remember, this setup is only for people who can touch type but it's a really optimal position that'll mean that he feels nice and comfortable for hours and hours of work. 

Step 4: As always, take micro breaks

Micro breaks are discussed in the Laptop video here.

I hope you found this video helpful please feel free to shoot us a message and let us know what you think.

How to set up your desk when you use a laptop in 4 steps

This is a post for people who frequently use a laptop to work on or for longer periods of time. It is especially good for people worried about or who suffer from tension headaches, neck or low back pain, high or sore shoulders, or other postural issues such as forward head posture.

In the video, Martin (using Kieran as the perfect ergonomics model) talks us through the correct ergonomics of how to set up our laptops as a workstation.

Please enjoy the quick video, for your convenience, the ergonomics demo has been transcribed below. 

This video will show you what you need to do to set up your desk when you are using a laptop.

Hi, this is Martin and Kieran from Align Chiropractic, we're here today to give you a quick video that will answer one of the most commonly asked questions that we get in the practice every day.

How should you have your desk set up so that you can look after your spine and your posture when you're spending time at your computer?

The first example we're going to do today is how to set it up for a laptop. Laptops are always a little bit more of a compromise than a desktop because you can't separate the screen but we’re going to go through how you can set it up so that your posture is in as close to the optimal position as possible. 

Step 1: Seat Height

The first point that we want to address is make sure, we can't see this but just take my word for it, Kieran's feet are flat on the floor. 

So we don't want crossed legs because it’s going to create twisting and torsion through our pelvis and lower back and create tension there. 

We want to make sure that the height of the chair, if you've got a gas lift chair, is up high enough so that your hip is either level with your knee so that we've got a straight line there, or you want the hips slightly higher than the knees.

What you don't want, because it's going to create a real curve in your back is knees higher than hips. 

So first point; set up the gas lift so that you're at that height. 

Step 2: Keyboard and arm position

we also want to have when we've got a hand on the keyboard there we want to make sure that we have pretty close to a 90 degree angle here. 

The main thing you don't want to have is to have the keyboard a lot lower, so this is particularly important for shorter people. 

If you have the chair too low then you're in a position where you start having to bunch up and create a lot of tension in your shoulders to be able to keep your hands on the keyboard. 

We want the set up so that we have hands easily on the keyboard with elbows roughly at about that 90 degrees or slightly more open. 

So we want to move our chair in or out so that with our hands comfortably on the keys we've got our hip and shoulder lined up because what we're really wanting to do here is have the big weight of the chest balanced over our hip.

What we don't want to be is so far back that we start to do this kind of thing, where there's a lot more tension on both the lower back and shoulders. Similarly, we don't want to be leaning all the way forward because it's going to tire out our back. 

Step 3: How do you manage the screen position?

So, a nice comfortable position of the chair, then this is the bit where we always have the little bit of a compromise with the laptop where we want to get your head balanced over your shoulder, but if you're looking down at a screen on a laptop, then that's always going to be a little bit tricky. 

The idea with the laptop is, make sure that you realise that you're always going to have a little bit of your head posture forward rather than balance the weight of your head over your shoulder so it’s really important to take micro breaks. 

Step 4: Micro Breaks

There are programs you can get that will remind you every 20-25 minutes to just stop for a minute, relax your arms way aside have a little micro break, turn your head all the way to the left, all the way around to the right, just drop your shoulders up and down a little bit and then you can get back to work.

So there it is, a couple of key points that you can use to set up your desk or your laptop in the optimal position, thanks.

 

What is the best way to sit?

"How should I be sitting?"

We often get asked this by our clients and on the surface it sounds like a pretty simple and straight forward question but when you think about it, its a much broader subject than it first appears. 

If you subscribe to the theory that the researchers at QI are correct about pretty much everything (and let's face it, who doesn't?) then this video will explain to you a little about the *ideal* way to sit, but what do they mean by the BEST way to sit?

For instance, it could be argued that what you are sitting FOR might actually dictate how you could best attempt to sit. Then again, there are some people who argue that we shouldn't be sitting for more than just short periods at all! 

In this post I wanted to discuss a few different types of sitting and when you might want to use them.

But Kieran, what do you mean by different types of sitting?

I'm glad you asked! there are a few different ways in which we position our bodies when we sit and each has its own set of pros and cons. 

In the video above, they make reference to sitting with an angle between your low back and your hips of roughly 30 degrees. They don't specify this in the video but sitting with an angle like that refers to research for the best sitting position to ease pressure on your lower lumbar vertebrae and disks, hopefully reducing the risk of low back pain or injury including disk bulges. 

When I was studying biomechanics as part of my Bachelor of Applied Science (Chiropractic) at RMIT, (back then, the course was an undergraduate degree and a Masters by course work instead of the 5 year Bachelor degree Chiropractors currently undertake...also Youtube was only 1 year old...thats not relevant to that last point other than it gives you an indication of how old I must be) we learned that the ideal angle to sit was indeed NOT sitting up straight but between 100-110 degrees. Definitely within the ball park of what this episode of QI suggests.

So why are we always trying to sit up straight?

It seems strange doesn't it that despite scientific evidence to the contrary, that we should still be obsessed with sitting up straight. 

I can't find any rational reasoning for this but I posit that it's due to our societal awareness of posture in reference to our shoulders and head forward positions, rather than any awareness of our spinal health at large. 

Well then...which is it? Posture or low back health?

To be completely honest, I do not believe that there is one answer to this question. 

Firstly, if you know you have, or at risk of a low back injury, then it is reasonable for you to, as much as possible while sitting, attempt to have an appropriate angle of between 10 and 30 degrees beyond sitting up straight. I would also add, if you have or believe you are at risk of a low back injury, please contact us at Align Chiropractic to see what ELSE you can do to get on track beyond remembering how to sit. 

Secondly, if you don't have a specific reason or concern in reference to your low back, then as stated earlier, perhaps it is best to remember the context in which you find yourself sitting. 

If you are going to be at a computer for most of the day, then a focus on correct sitting posture. 

A couple of quick reminders are:

  • Key board - Positioned more directly in front of you, so you aren't reaching for it or turning your     wrists to get the correct angle.
  • Screen - Directly in front of you,at a height where your eyes are aimed directly in the middle just about the centre of the screen.
  • Chair - Adjusted to a height where your feet can easily touch the floor with your hips at or just past 90 degrees to your torso.
  • Mouse - Just to the side of the keyboard, easy to reach in a way that keeps your arm bent, not reaching for it.
  • Alignment - Sitting up straight, don't slouch and don't let your head and shoulders slump forward. 

Always remember to keep what you need to use IN FRONT OF YOU in an easy position to use.

Computers and equipment was designed to fit US, not the other way around!

Your other best line of defence is to try utilise a standing desk for at least some part of the day!

However, the above video raises an interesting point, If sitting more casually, i.e. watching a movie etc, then sitting up straight as if you are using a computer doesn't really feel like it makes much sense. Lets face it, it doesn't matter who you are, no one can sit up straight for extended periods of time. 

It makes sense to do it while working, where we can get up from the desk to stretch, get water or to stop our body from fatiguing, but if you're planning to sit and enjoy Casino Royal, re watch the Back to the future trilogy or binge The Sinner, then you can hardly annoy everyone you're watching with and interrupt the show with incessant stretching. 

This is where finding that 10 to 30 degree angle for your low back really comes to the fore.

Similarly while driving, I do not expect you to stop every 20-40 minutes on your daily commute for a walk, so keep that position in mind when you set up your car seat (I will post about correct driving position in the near future, but as a general rule, give yourself that slight angle, position the steering wheel so you aren't leaning forward to reach for it and make sure your head isn't being pushed forward by the headrest).

Another question we get asked frequently is should you sit on a gym ball instead? 

My answer is always the same...if your living room or office aesthetics suit the presence of a gym ball as a permanent piece of furniture, then perhaps posture and sitting is NOT the biggest issue you are currently experiencing. 

More seriously though, in my experience, sitting on a gym ball doesn't provide you with a better sitting technique for an extended period. Like anything, our body will fatigue if we ask it to hold a more rigid position for a long time and eventually we all end up slumping. Personally, I believe that a gym ball can actually help you to slump your shoulders forward as it offers you no form of support to relax into a better position. 

If you DO insist on sitting long term on gym ball, always be mindful of when your head slumps forward and your low back has started to curve in the opposite direction. 

Yep, just like any product sold on late night infomercials, the sad reality is, sitting on a gym ball will NOT automatically give you abs. 

The same can be said of ergonomic chairs or those kneeling 'chairs', not only are they usually more of an eyesore than you would hope them to be, they are really about trying to make the most of a crummy situation. They will try place you in a better posture but without adjusting your position, mindfulness of your body and remembering to get up and move frequently, your body will always try to reduce energy expenditure and slack off as soon as you aren't looking. 

So what SHOULD I be sitting on?

For a hint at the type of chairs we at Align DO actually like people to sit in, look at the furniture in our practice. 

The Eames chairs we have in the practice weren't just chosen for how beautiful they are, or how well they stand up to being sat on by hundreds of people, they also allow you to be comfortable in a relatively good position for a reasonable period of time. 

At the end of the day, there really is no substitute for body awareness. 

Listen to your body. Stand up when you need to stand up, move when you have to move, and re-position yourself when your body tells you it needs re-positioning. 

To discuss the best ways to combat bad posture, exercises to improve your ability to sit better, or discuss your concerns about your posture, contact us at Align on (03) 9696 1057, or bring it up during your next visit so that we can discuss your issues specifically and tailor an approach to your and your needs. 

School is Back so Back Pack chat is Back

Back to school time...

Yep, I'm sorry to ruin your child's holidays but we knew this day was coming eventually. 

Although to be honest, this blog shouldn't really just about going BACK to school. For some reason we only talk about back packs when we are about to commence a new school year, but really we need to focus on them the whole year through. 

No matter how old the school bag or how old your children are, back packs represent one of the most common physical stressors that children will face in our society. Research suggests that back packs should not be heavier than 10-15% of the body weight of the child carrying it, yet how many times have you picked up your child's bag and thought it would be uncomfortable for YOU to wear?

As a matter of fact, an international study printed in Spine found that 79.1% of children find their backpacks are heavy, and 46.1% complained that their bags caused back pain.

This is made worse by the fact that in the same study, it was discovered that even though nearly half of the students had back pain, 33% of all of the students were still wearing their back packs too low!

If you want an idea of what happens to posture and spines when you wear a back pack incorrectly, see the photos of our amazing practice model Nicholas below. Nicholas has great posture and is more active than an average boy of his age. (On top of that, he is hilarious and an absolute gun for being a part of this post!) As you can see, none of that matters when he wears his bag incorrectly.

Nicholas shows us what happens when your back pack is too low, note that his head is forward, his shoulders are rolled and his low back has increased curve. 

Nicholas shows us what happens when your back pack is too low, note that his head is forward, his shoulders are rolled and his low back has increased curve. 

The reality is, this overloading and incorrect loading of your child's spine may be putting them at risk of longer term spinal damage.

Add that to the time spent sitting or looking at the screen of a phone or iPad and....well I don't need to tell you what this means for posture. 

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I have already discussed the issues with poor posture earlier in this blog, (for a look at a more in depth discussion about posture, read the post here) but in summary, poor posture is bad, and the longer it's left unmanaged the worse things get.

So what should you do?

At Align we are concerned about the future of younger generation's health and posture, which is why Martin and I will be providing free back pack assessments to ensure that your child starts the year off with their best foot forward. 

It is always fascinating to see how a small adjustment to a child's backpack can have far reaching effects. 

If you would like to book a Back Pack assessment for your children, please do not hesitate to contact us on 9696 1057.

Are you Sitting too much?

Maybe you've heard the new catch phrase, "Sitting is the new smoking"? 
Have you wondered why that is?  Are you curious as to how prolonged periods of sitting is causing you harm?  How sitting decreases brain activity, can cause back pain, shoulder pain and neck pain? How sitting can decrease fat metabolism, contribute to metabolic diseases, heart disease, depression and even some cancers?
For a simple explanation, watch this 5min Ted Ed talk (perhaps do it standing!) and learn what impact sitting is having on your posture and health.
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If you're curious, you can even take this survey and calculate just how much sitting you are doing each day, the results may shock you!
Here's a few strategies you may use to get off your butt;
1. If you work in an office at a desk, perhaps get into the habit of taking phone calls standing up
2. Set an alarm for every 30mins to get up out of your chair and do a few stretches
3. If you commute to work via Public Transport, you could choose to stand instead of sit
4. There are great options for standing work stations - check this one out
5. Walk to work, or at least park further away from the office.  This serves two purposes, increases your exercise for the day AND reduces sitting time in the car
6. If you're into computer games, try playing them standing up, instead of sitting!  It may surprise you to know that standing actually increases brain activity and reactivity.  So standing may help you get to that next level.