Our motto here at the Back Place is that back pain is about more than just your back, it’s about your whole life. Anybody who has ever had back pain realizes this on some level. This is why it is so important for us to encourage our customers to chat with us about their life – family, routines, stresses, etc. I find it extremely important to take time to talk about anything from the weather to grandchildren so I can listen closely for clues that will help me recommend the best roads to relief.
Back pain is caused by more than just a pinch in your musculature, it’s also about what’s pinching you in your daily life.
Let me give you an example. John is under the care of a good chiropractor, and he’s been told that he has a herniated disc. John operates a popular business in town that keeps him on his feet all day with little movement, so he came to me to explore ways to alleviate back pain, help heal his herniated disc and to prevent new injuries to his spine down the road. I showed him our inversion table and my zero gravity chair, and while he was relaxing and trying out the equipment, we started chatting about his business, and his family. In the course of our conversation, he told me that he was planning a 3-week, 2000 mile road trip with his family. What I knew, and what he didn’t think about, was that driving or riding in a car goes from uncomfortable to painful very quickly for people with herniated discs, particularly for tall people like John. So we took a look at his car together and “souped up” his ride with everything he needed to keep him comfortable during his road trip. We adjusted the seat itself, but he still needed to add a lumbar support cushion and a seat wedge to achieve the best position for him and his spine. He told me that out of all of the professionals he’d talked to about his back, I was the first person who had asked about his life, and in the process, had learned about his upcoming road trip. As a result of our conversation, he was now equipped with the knowledge, positions and habits that he needed to keep him more comfortable during his trip. This is a good thing for him, his wife and their five children as they prepare to hit the road this summer!
I would be happy to listen to your situation too – leave a comment or email me at email@example.com
When setting up your workstation keep in mind these main principles of ergonomics:
1. Work in neutral postures. Meaning, maintain the natural S-curve of your back and be sure your arms are in a resting position at your side.
2. Reduce excessive forces.
3. Keep everything you need within an easy reach.
4. Work at proper heights.
5. Reduce excessive motions.
6. Minimize static load. This means, try to keep moving as much as possible and avoid doing the same task in the same position for too long. By working muscles differently you will reduce fatigue.
7. Minimize pressure points.
8. Provide clearance.
9. Move, exercise and stretch.
10. Maintain a comfortable environment.
11. Make displays and controls understandable.
12. Reduce stress.
Are you ready to redesign your workspace, or just looking for a few ideas to adjust your current computer environment? Check out this list of suggestions that will help support your back, neck and shoulders and reduce muscle strain during the workday.
1. Raise the top of your computer monitor to eye level or even slightly higher.
2. Be sure both your monitor and keyboard are centered in front of you.
3. Reduce any glare on the computer screen.
4. Tilt your keyboard slightly toward your body, this will support your wrists and hands.
5. Keep your wrists flat and straight, and your arms and elbows tucked in close to the body with support if possible.
6. Move around and change your posture often.
7. Work with upright posture from head to base of spine.
8. Take frequent, short breaks.
9. Rest your feet flat on the floor or on a footrest, avoid crossing your legs.
Let us know your own tips for avoiding workplace fatigue! Do you do stretches during your lunch break, or use a monitor stand to place your computer at the proper height?
Breathing is automatic – one thing our body does completely on auto-pilot and with complete success. Right?? Well, yes and no. We don’t have to think about breathing, that is true, but if we do pay attention to how we breathe, we can reap the benefits for our spine.
When we experience pain, we tend to breathe shallow, pull our shoulders forward, and collapse our chest. What we should be doing is the exact opposite. We want to breathe deeply and direct that oxygen to where it hurts.
I’m explaining this because I just met Jannean, a customer who was in obvious pain. As we were moving around the store she kept stopping and holding onto something so I asked her if she was out of breath. She said, no, it just hurt so much she had to stop and then she told me her chiropractor had just told her to open her chest more and breathe deeper. I had an intuition and asked her, “How is that going?” The look I received gave me the answer I expected: it was not going well. I guided her to the sofa in our lobby and sat down next to her so we could chat. It turns out she expected the pain to get worse if she took a deep breath – but when she followed my lead and sat up really tall, her deep breath did not increase her pain. With shoulders down and back and her spine lengthened up through the top of her head, deep breathing actually lessened her pain just a bit. Jannean simply needed to know how to breathe.
Lesson #2: Don’t trust your breathing instincts when you are in pain. This is the time you really want to focus on your posture and your breathing at the same time and breathe deeply.
Our back and neck problems are as individual as we are and I learn something from each and every person who comes to me asking for products or advice. I believe you will learn something too.
Mark worked for a large corporation for years before he decided to become a consultant and work from his home office. After three years of working in an office he had thrown together over a weekend, he was experiencing significant pain and had been referred by his physician to a physical therapist. I met Mark when his PT sent him to me for a new office chair. Long story short, not only did I fit him for a new chair, we worked together to change his office so he would be able to use all the healthy features of his new chair. Mark’s pain is gone, he is no longer under medical care and he is correctly using his body and his office environment to avoid negative stress on his spine. He is fortunate that the three years he spent causing injury to his spine does not seem to have become chronic or created any permanent damage.
Lesson #1: Transitioning to a home office requires expert advice and proper planning to maintain a strong and healthy spine.
I was a guest blogger on Kelli’s blog this week. Check it out!
I think an example would be helpful to better understand what I mean by giving resolutions their own place and reading or reviewing them daily. Let’s use the popular example of weight loss. This resolution would be difficult to forget because we see ourselves in the mirror everyday as an inevitable reminder. To write down “Lose Weight” and read it every day seems pointless. However, writing down the things you intend to do in order to lose weight and reviewing them daily is important to success.
Take the example of the working mother of two who wants to lose weight. She decides on a few small simple things she will do to change her current routine and help her lose weight. One of them is to take a healthy satisfying lunch to work each day instead of grabbing something from the nearby deli or restaurant. Each morning she is focused on the children, what needs to be done at work, and what needs to be ready when she gets home; she forgets to get the healthy food out of the refrigerator. One night she actually thinks about the next day’s lunch, packs up a healthy meal, and doesn’t give it another thought the next morning as she runs the kids out to the bus stop and jumps into her car.
If this working mom wrote down her small simple decisions about losing weight, put them into an attractive wood box, and simply read them every day, she would begin to remember her healthy lunch.
If you don’t attempt to immediately add your resolutions into you daily time management and your routine, what are you supposed to do with them??
I would argue the power of routine is strong enough to be contemplated as a worthy opponent to our success. Believing we can simply add to our routine or change it is some meaningful way is naive and will find us back in the comfort zone of familiarity before we can say “rumpelstiltskin.” Tough opponents require us to be cunning and smart when we go up against them.
Do not lump your resolutions with the rest of the, sometimes menial, daily list. They deserve better. Create them in written or graphic form and set them apart; give them their own special place and treat them like royalty.
You can immediately add reading or review of your resolutions to your daily routine without much trouble. This is a minor addition and can quickly become an enjoyable and inspirational part of your day.
The point when resolutions go from simply being reviewed to becoming part of the action is the point when we can no longer stand the fact that we are only reading them and not doing them. At this point, routine will gladly give way to the idea of a change.
Today is the day – January 1st 2009. This is the first day of the rest of the year. Whether you have made your resolutions or are still contemplating them, its time to give real consideration to how you will keep them.
Dr. Pamela Dodd, author of The 25 Best Time Management Tools & Techniques: How to Get More Done Without Driving Yourself Crazy was quoted in a press release on PRWEB today with 3 specific suggestions for increasing your success rate.
They are great suggestions, but experience tells me they do not address the real cause of resolution fatalities. Dr. Dodd wisely talks about time as the ultimate killer, but does not include the concept of routine. It’s an existing routine – something we all have – that makes it so difficult to keep any resolution that requires us to alter that routine.
Working on time management skills, typically means dealing with the daily to-do list.
Resolutions are personal growth or “greater good” goals and you should not attempt to keep them by immediately adding them into the time management of your daily routine.
Once you have carved your resolutions in stone, take the next critical step of figuring out how you will keep them. Tomorrow’s blog will specifically look at what do to with resolutions to greatly increase your chance of success.
Preparing to stand on the edge of a brand new year is somewhat irresistible to every-day people. As January 1st approaches we can’t help but look back at the previous year and assess or muse; sometimes we discuss it with others, but more often not. Analysis of the past year quickly gives way to a look at the year ahead.
We make New Year’s Resolutions because of the entire year ahead. The months, seasons, and holidays seem to stretch out before us forever and we easily imagine the possibilities. We are more likely to set our sites on new resolutions or goals when we seem to have an endless supply of days in which to accomplish them.
We make New Year’s Resolutions because inspiration lives in the symbolism and freshness of the first day.