As more and more research comes out about the silent dangers of sitting, employers and employees are joining the growing trend of utilizing standing desks. As a chiropractor in Denver who treats back pain related to sitting, I get asked on a daily basis if the standing desk is the solution to help avoid their back troubles. There is much more to this simple question as the answer is a bit more complicated, so let’s look at some facts related to sitting.
The American Journal of Epidemiology published a prospective study including over 53,000 men and almost 70,000 women that showed an increase in mortality with the length of time sitting, regardless of independent physical activity (1). This fact is mind blowing. You can’t Crossfit your way out of the dangers of the desk jockey. Sit less and live longer should be the title of this study.
How about back pain? The above study is mainly about heart health, but what about back health? Surprisingly, a study published is the journal Spine showed that intradiscal pressure may be less in an individual that is sitting upright compared to an upright standing posture (2). The study advises movement to help support the flow of fluid in and out of the disc. This study also looked at a variety of postures and its effects on disc pressures, which all showed increases with flexed postures, regardless of sitting or standing. There is no ideal sitting or standing posture, so one must continually change their postures to help migrate the strains of sitting or standing. The take away with this study is to keep moving!
You’re the Captain
The answer to the initial question is a yes, but also a no. Standing desks can help offset the strains of sitting, but also come with its own problems. Standing engages the back muscles more than sitting and can add pressure to the spine, which is only negated by movement. Sitting can create large forces on the spine as well, which is only negated by movement. A variety of work stations is ideal in the workplace. So, reducing the chances of decreasing your lifespan from heart disease, or decreasing your chances of having back pain all must incorporate movement. Avoiding sedentary postures, whether they are sitting or standing is the key.
Autohor: Dr. Trent Artichoker
Denver Chiropractic, LLC
3890 Federal Blvd Unit 1
Denver, CO 80211
Like little baby Jesus, most neck pain seems to come out of nowhere. Its not like you were in a car accident or fell out of bed and there is no outwardly obvious reason for why your neck hurts. Most people do notice some patterns of their neck pain, like it hurts more when I do the dishes, or when you sit at your job. As a Denver chiropractor, most of the new patients that I see have this fluctuating neck pain that is usually caused by forward head posture. Understanding where this pain comes from is half the battle to ridding it. So, I listed the top 5 causes of forward head posture that causes neck pain.
1. iPosture or Text Neck. This is becoming epidemic as more and more people use cell phones. Take a look at person that is using their phone. The head is usually bent forward to at least 50-70 degrees which slowly pulls on all of the muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, joints, and fascia. This slow pull on the back of neck essentially overstretches this part of the body. This creates an imbalance of stretched tissue.
2. Computer Posture. No matter how hard you try to avoid it, you end up slouched with your head sticking out by the end of the day. It’s almost impossible to escape without someone repeatedly telling you to sit up straight. Computer posture is often the result of poor ergonomics.
3. Pillow Neck. The way you sleep is another source of forward head posture. If you ever sleep on your back while using a pillow, you are slowly creating a forward head posture.
4. Reading Neck or Scholars Neck. Sit in your favorite chair and enjoy your latest murder mystery and soon before you know, you’ve been there for over an hour with head pointing down. Looking downward for a prolonged period doing your desk work or reading will create forward head posture. Some people like to read while lying down in bed which will also slowly give you forward head posture.
5. Couch slouch or Potato Neck. You ever watch a movie while lying down with your head on the arm rest of the couch. Guilty! Everyone does it, but if you do it on a regular basis it slowly juts your head out and then you look like one of the character in the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Sitting in your favorite position in the couch that gives your spine banana back will also give you forward posture.
The imbalance of overusing certain muscles and under using certain muscles in combination with only stretching one side of the neck will cause forward head carriage. This is easy to spot as your head will not be above your shoulders, and will be forward compared to your torso. Over time this will create a major malfunction of the system, creating pain, stiffness, kinked necks, headaches, and sore shoulders.
Chiropractic care is an excellent option for treating a forward head posture. As chiropractic adjustments and the other therapies we offer will help restore the natural alignment of your neck. Of course you need to identify the root cause, but putting out the fire while improving your awareness of your posture is necessary. At Denver Chiropractic, LLC we offer a wide variety of treatment options to help decrease your neck pain.
Dr. Trent Artichoker
Denver Chiropractic, LLC
3890 Federal Blvd Unit 1
Denver, CO 80211
I think we like to have internal civil wars between our brains and our bodies. Even though they are intimately connected, I think the brain has a superiority complex. I see this battle when it comes to the desk jockey. This is the person who sits all day, every day, and that is how they make their money, by sitting and doing computer-desk work. I realize that this is unavoidable and can be very taxing on the body, but if I had a choice, I think I would rather be a stunt man and take my injuries one by one vs. slowly becoming a mongoloid like cave dweller chained to one position. Heck, even prisoners have more freedom than desk jockeys.
This internal war starts with the body revolting, sending messages to the brain to move, squirm, readjust, get up, take a break, stretch, and so on. The mind recognizes the bodies check engine signals, but overcomes them with rationalization. The mind tells the body to take it, and keep on sitting. The mind realizes the importance of surviving, but also keeps in minds that whole must keep working to earn that oh so precious dollar.
At one point the mind might give a little and do more exercise outside of the working hours, but sometimes this is not enough. With some minds, there is recognition of the importance of the work space ergonomics. The chair is always recognized as very important. Here comes the problem. Some minds will start to think that sitting on a huge ball will help keep them upright for endless hours that their job demands. They think that the ball will magically strengthen their core to a point that they can sit forever without fatigue, like some sort of superhero. Short periods of large ball sitting are okay, but endless sitting will short circuit the system. This is when they find me, a Denver chiropractor, and the one they seek for help. Their brain has recognized its own inability to protect itself, its civil war has lost, and the body is battered and can no longer cooperate.
Well, I want to help all of the professional sitters sit better, to be able to sit longer, and sit without fatigue. I recently have had more than a normal amount of people come to the clinic and tell me they have neck and back pain, and they want me to fix them. When there are no obvious injuries, I have to play a bit of Sherlock Holmes. I usually suspect with a high degree, the job category, especially if they sit all day. When it comes out that they are using a large ball to sit on, I have to pull my teacher hat out.
Most people like to think they have good ergonomics. This of course is natural for the professional sitter. Let me tell you why sitting on a ball all day is wreaking havoc on your body.
Sitting requires using your muscles to some degree. It you are using the same set of muscles to sit for extended time, that is, more than 30 minutes, your muscles will fatigue. Think of holding a bowling ball like a waiter holds a tray. With the weight directly over the hand and weight, it is not so bad, because it requires a high degree of balancing versus strength. This is the concept that the ball sitters are using, but it is flawed. For a short time this version of sitting will work, but certain muscle groups will fatigue at one point.
The goal of sitting well is to shift the strain on muscles, and not have one group of muscle bearing the burden. This is what happens with ball sitting, one group of muscles are doing all the work while the rest are sitting back and taking a nice vacation.
Shifting the load on muscle groups to different muscle groups is the key to prevent one set muscles from fatiguing, and using a ball to do this is impossible. With a ball, you cannot rest your arms; your arms are endlessly hovering to type and mouse. The muscles that do this are what many people call their shoulders. This is the Upper Trapezious, Levator scapulae, Rhomboids, Splenius Capitus, and many others that share connections with the neck and back. The muscles in your low back share the same burden, they never get to rest, because they are always engaged.
By using these muscles continuously, you will put a tremendous amount of strain on the upper back, low back, and the neck. Using a ball also prevents you from resting your neck. Having a chair where you can tilt back and rest your noggin, and rest your arms while you take or make a call is just what the body wants, a shift in muscle group use.
Prolonged use of any muscle will put the check engine light on. Using over the counter non steroidal, like Ibuneverworkuprofin, or Tyandnotfixanol will never cure your problem. You are just putting tape over the check engine light. After a while of body revolt, your joints will be out of alignment, trigger points and muscle adhesions will develop. This will show as low back pain, upper back pain, shoulder pain, neck pain, and headaches.
If you keep repeating the pattern of using your ball to sit on while you are developing neck and back pain, your problem will become much harder, longer, and much costlier to fix than buying a good ergonomic chair. Do your body a favor and get rid of that six dollar Walmart ball that you are using.
Next time you sit on your ball, become aware of what muscles you are actively using. Next, think of how long those same muscles can keep contracted without fatigue. Listen to your body, it will tell […]
Since the dawn of computer time, man has de-evolved into a creature that habitates the recesses of the virtual world. Unfortunately, consequences of extended html surfing tear into the reality of dealing with bad posture. It is not called ape posture as the title entails, but referred to as “Postural Syndrome”.
I recently attended a networking event here in Denver, Colorado and the topic of posture came up several times. Most people admit to having “bad posture”, and yet have never explored ways to improve posture. Fear not, your knuckle dragging ape ways do not have to be and can be changed with good advice.
What is so important about good posture? Why do you need to be aware of your posture? What can happen to the body with bad posture? These are the questions that I would like every one of you to ponder a bit. Posture is your outward expression of the energy that you conserve or expend.
Conserving your energy with good posture will pay off. Bad posture leads to fatigue, that leads to stress, that leads to illness, that results in injury. Long term poor posture can result in:
1. Neck pain
2. Upper back pain
3. Lower back pain
4. Shoulder pain
5. Arm pain
6. Arm numbness
7. Tingling in the arm
8. Muscle weakness
9. Muscle spasms
10. Tight muscles
11. Referred pain
12. Jaw pain
13. increased blood pressure
14. …..the list goes on and on folks!
What does bad posture look like?
1. Forward head
2. Increased upper back curve
4. Straightening of the neck or
5. Increase curve of the neck
6. Rounded shoulders
7. Increase or decrease in the curve of the low back
What can you do about your posture?
1. You should be able to touch your computer screen with your finger tips.
2. Top of the screen should be level with your eyes.
3. Keyboard should be level with your elbows.
4. Your wrist should be lower than your elbows.
5. The wrist should be supported.
6. Your chair should have adjustable arm supports.
7. Your chair should have an adjustable height option.
8. Your chair should have a head rest.
9. Your chair should also have tilt capacity.
10. The phone should be within arms reach.
11. Feet should be flat on the floor.
12. Strengthen your Rhomboids – for every 20 min. of sitting, keep the shoulders down and squeeze your shoulder blades together as tight as you can for 10 sec. Repeat this strengthening exercise every 20 minutes and you will notice a difference.
13. Strengthen your spinal erectors – while sitting in your chair we have a tendency to slump, this strengthening pose is the reverse of the slump posture. Arch your entire spine (including head), hold this pose for at least 10 seconds. This will strengthen the muscles that keep your back from slumping.
14. Stretch the neck. Turn your head to left half way, sit on your right hand to keep the shoulder down, with the left hand put it on the back of your head and bring the head toward the left arm pit. Do the same on the other side. Repeat sequence except keep your head straight and use the other hand to bring the ear to the shoulder.
15. Exercise – This is a big one, but it must be tailored to the individual. Most people have muscle imbalances that need to be identified, and be prescribed particular exercises.
16. Get ADJUSTED! – This can be one of the most benefical items with this list. Specific spinal adjustments by a chiropractor will help release tight muscles and will allow joints that are restricted in motion to move like they should.
If you think your work place could use an ergonomic evaluation, or would like me to give a short talk over lunch about posture and stress issues in the work place, please call to arrange.
To Your Health,
Dr. Trent Artichoker MS, DC
Denver Chiropractic, LLC
3890 Federal Blvd Unit 1
Denver, CO 80211