By Helen Brandreth, May 16 2013 09:28AM
Sit up Straight! That’s what my parents used to say to me when I was younger and eating dinner. Did yours? I used to think they were simply nagging but research shows that their reasons were actually for the good of my health…
In today’s world, how many times do you walk along the street and see people looking down at their mobiles? It’s a common sight, isn’t it?
Unfortunately, so many people seem to spend their majority of their lives looking down. Whether it’s at a computer, tablet or mobile phone, the result is the same because our posture is compromised. Our head and neck inadvertently move forward and our shoulders become rounder. This also causes extra pressure on our hands and forearms. We are not saying that you need to sit up straight all day but make sure that you can and see if you can hold it for a prolonged period in every hour, or try to walk up tall when you are moving around, keeping your tummy muscles drawn in. The key to maintaing a healthy back is movement.
Recent research suggests that poor posture, like neck, back and arm pain is on the increase. Other symptoms associated with excessive use of gadgets include headaches, fatigue and blurred vision.
Spending our time hunched over doesn’t allow for correct movement of our diaphragm when we breathe, so reduced oxygen levels can cause us to feel more tired. When you want to look good, do you stand upright or slump? Remember that slumping (over a gadget) can make us look larger and it encourages lazy stomach muscles. Nobody wants those, do they?
Looking down all the time shortens the neck muscles, can increase facial sagging and accelerate wrinkles as we strain to read increasingly smaller screens.
To rescue necks and backs from the damage caused by increased gadget use, read my easy-to-follow suggestions to improve your posture:
1. Use the 30:10 rule. For every 30 minutes you sit still, get up and do something else for 10 seconds. This helps get your circulation moving and resets your muscles.
2. Never cradle a phone to your ear. This shortens muscles between the head and shoulder and can pinch the nerves, causing pain and headaches.
3. Hold your phone away. Holding it too close increases pressure to focus and leads to eye strain and headaches or dry eyes and blurred vision.
4. Remember to breathe. Apparently, when we text, we inhale less deeply and tighten our muscles. In extreme circumstances, this could lead to repetitive strain injury!
5. Buy books! Increase of reading on a heavy tablet, go back to books or buy a lighter device. If you must use a device, hold it close to your body to prevent muscle strains.
6. Re-think the size of your bag! Carrying a bag on one shoulder can cause neck and back strains. Either use a rucksack to spread the weight or use a bag with a wider strap and pack heavier items near your body.
Here are also 2 exercises for you to try! Only do these if you have no pain and you are fit and well. If you are unsure please contact your Health Professional or GP, before trying.
Try the upper back rotations above. Whilst sitting up tall, draw in your deep tummy muscles and try to get the movement from your upper back. Place your hands on the back edge of your chair, slowly turn around to look over your shoulder with your head, neck and upper back. Gradually increase the movement and try to rotate as you breathe out. Hold for a breath and then turn back as you breathe out again. Try doing 5-10 of these regularly when you are sitting.
Try the upper back extensions above. Whilst sitting up tall, place both hands behind your head. Take a big breath in and draw in your deep tummy muscles. As you breathe out arch your upper back over the top of the chair and look up to the ceiling. Hold for a breath and then return to your starting position on a breath out. Try to do 5-10 of these regularly when you are sitting.