Tag Archives: Hillarys Chiropractors

How Would Love Respond?

I am a huge fan of personal growth and development, so reading books that cover these topics is very enjoyable to me.  A friend of mine recommended a book to me, “How Would Love Respond?” by Kurek Ashley, that I first read in the early months of 2009.   I was fortunate to have seen Kurek speak in Brisbane a couple of years ago, and even got him to sign the book for me.  He is an excellent speaker, motivator and is full of life.

Recently, I was at a chiropractic seminar with my team from Hillarys Chiropractic in Brisbane.  Kurek Ashley was there speaking to the chiropractic congress and I was reminded of different principles in the book.  I decided it was a good time to re-read “How Would Love Respond?” and see what resonated in me this time.

I’d like to share some points from the book and encourage you to read it so that you too can enjoy the benefits in your own life.

One of the first pages of the book before it starts reads, “Your mind is like a parachute.  It works much better when it’s open!” – How true this statement is, and that is where we can change our life so much.  Things like social or family conditioning can cause our minds to ‘not be free’.  Awareness of this is the key – the first step in creating change.  There are several examples of Kurek’s personal journey, and the fact of the matter is, “we all have a story.”  We are sitting here today as a result of the life experiences we had.  There are no accidents.  We have choices on which perspective to believe this to be true – choosing to look at it from a positive view or a negative view.  We have that power to choose, whether you believe this or not.  By learning how to access this power, there are ways to open the mind and keep it open.  Keeping it open is even more important, because old patterns and old behaviours can creep up and get in the way.

Chapter 1 of “How Would Love Respond?”

“Life Doesn’t Turn Out The Way It Should” – Kurek Ashley shares his amazing story in detail of his life-changing experience.  We have them in different times, different forms, different places with different people – SEE’s (Significant Emotional Events) that literally change your life.  I’ll leave Kurek’s personal story described in Chapter 1 for the reading in the book – don’t want to spoil any of the details, but the messages and summary is this:

“Trust in the fact that there are no accidents and that there is something in this book that you’re searching for in your life.  And even if you don’t yet know what it is you’re searching for or maybe you didn’t even know that you are searching, have faith that it will be revealed to you, and that’s why you chose this book.”

Usually, circumstances and events don’t appear or reveal themselves for what they truly are until later.  Knowing what questions and thoughts to form around those events can make the biggest difference in the evolution of your life.

A question Kurek mentioned that is a good habit to form,

“What’s great about this?”

Even in the midst of what can appear ‘total disaster’ or chaos, or devastation, there will be positive aspects in some form, we just have to look at the whole picture.  I find this an excellent tool that I intentionally try to incorporate into my life when things may not appear as bright as they seem.

Stay tuned for the next blog post, where I will share some more points from the book.

May you have a most outstanding day!

Chiropam

Dr John Demartini

Demartini & Chiropam

As one of my greatest mentors, Dr John Demartini says, “Do what you love, love what you do” – this has been what I live by and where my greatest inspiration comes from. As a young child, I remember going in and out of doctor’s offices practically every other day. I suffered from chronic ear infections, chronic throat infections and several different allergies. I was prescribed several different medications, trying to find solutions to my problems. I also went for allergy shots in my arms regularly and was scheduled for grommets/tubes in the ears and for a tonsillectomy. My mother had a bad experience with a chiropractor several years prior (before I was born) and therefore had a very negative opinion of chiropractic. It took a family friend over a year to convince her to take me to a chiropractor that she highly recommended. Well, that was the moment that changed my life forever. I was one of the miracle type cases that responded straightaway, and instead of just alleviating my symptoms, the cause was dealt with specifically and most importantly, naturally. The chiropractor found misalignments in my spine, called vertebral subluxation complexes that was causing interference in my nervous system. To this day, I still have my tonsils, did not have the grommets put in, and don’t have any allergies. At 9 years old, I decided that I wanted to help people through chiropractic the way chiropractic has helped me. I consider myself extremely fortunate, as I have been able to live my dream, my true passion and inspiration through my chosen profession. I truly love what I do and do what I love. For that, I am truly grateful.

Preventing Running Injuries

Running for exercise is not for everyone – but if you currently run, or are thinking of taking up running for exercise, then the following may be of benefit to you:

running shoes

Useful Tips For Preventing Running Injuries

1. Strengthen the areas which are vulnerable.

2. Buy and utilise the correct footwear.

3. Use the correct running posture.

4. Warm up before your running workout.

5. Gradually step up your running program.

6. Cool down appropriately to minimise stiffness and soreness.

Correct Running Posture

1. Keep your shoulders back and down, with your chest lifted and tummy tight.  The body should be leaned slightly forward without bending and the waist.

2. Look out ahead, not at the ground. Keep your eyes on the horizon.

3. Don’t clench your fists as this sends tension up the arms.

4. Land midfoot, instead of striking heel first like in walking.

5. Absorb shock better and protect the knees by maintaining a short stride with a slight bend in the knee as you land.

6. Focus on keeping the legs relaxed and lifting the feet up to avoid fatigue in the muscles.

Check with a health professional, such as your chiropractor or muscle therapist for advice that is unique to your specific needs.  Each body is different, so to adopt generic advice is not wise, nor will it assist in prevention or overall achieving of goals.

Preventing injuries involves listening to your body and basic common sense, so make sure that is Number One on your list!

Running Injuries

running injuries

Now that it is Springtime in the southern hemisphere, it is typical for most people to want to shed the extra weight that they may have put on over the winter months.  It has been my experience in dealing with patients on a regular basis, that moderation is key and a plan and specific goals to work toward achieving helps assist in a successful springtime exercise program.  The other key to remember is what you eat.  Exercise without watching what goes in the mouth, will not bring the health benefits as doing both.  Same with only watching what you eat, without exercising.  The two go hand in hand.

One big exercise that is commonly chosen is running.  I have heard people say that they’ll take that up and get out in the fresh air, and the weight will drop, and it will look after itself.

Wrong! Running to lose weight and/or keep fit can invariably lead to running injuries.  I highly recommend educating yourself, doing some ‘homework’ and getting informed on some of the possible injuries associated with running. Then make a wise and informed decision if running is the best option for you.

Many Running Injuries Are Caused By Overuse

When you think about taking up running, or just starting to run, it’s best to learn how to prevent running injuries.

The Most Common Running Injuries

•    Knee
•    ITB (Iliotibial Band)
•    Foot
•    Calf

Chondromalacia, or Runner’s Knee is due to wearing of the cartilage under the patella (kneecap) when the patella is tracked incorrectly while running, causing pain in the knee.

Lateral or side knee pain is usually due to Iliotibial Band (ITB) Syndrome.  This band runs from the outside of the pelvis, over the hip and knee and inserts just below the knee.  The ITB is meant to stabilize the knee while running.  If this gets irritated, it can get inflamed and cause pain in the knee or band itself. This leads to ITB Syndrome.

Another contributor to knee pain as well as foot pain, is Plantar Fasciitis. The plantar fascia is the thick fibrous connective tissue on the bottom of the foot.  It’s job is to absorb the shock of the running motion.  Plantar fasciitis is when this tissue gets inflamed due to wear and tear, resulting in pain.  This can be temporary or a long-term problem.

Shin splints are usually caused by stepping up the volume of training too quickly.  Achilles tendonitis can cause leg pain and or ankle pain, and may eventually lead to rupture of the tendon itself.

Running May Lead To Back & Pelvis Injuries

Besides the injuries listed above, some runners may suffer from acute back pain, pelvis or hip pain, groin pain, and chronic back pain.  Running can also irritate the discs in the lower back, which may lead to things such as Sciatica.

Running Injuries Take Long To Heal

Running injuries may take months, or even longer to heal, easily putting fitness and weight loss programs on the back burner.  There are also the injuries that may lead to other problems that cause long term effects that can irritate other areas of the body.  I believe that it is wise to learn about the preventative measures so that we can make better choices and better decisions on the type of exercise we undertake.

Running for exercise is not for everyone – but if you currently run, or are thinking of taking up running for exercise, then the following may be of benefit to you:

Useful Tips For Preventing Running Injuries

1.    Strengthen the areas which are vulnerable.
2.    Buy and utilize the correct footwear.
3.    Use the Correct running posture
4.    Warm up before your running workout.
5.    Gradually step up your running program.
6.    Cool down appropriately to minimize stiffness and soreness.

Check with a health professional such as a chiropractor or sports massage therapist for advice that is unique to your specific needs.  Each body is different, so to adopt generic advice is not wise, nor will it assist in prevention or overall achieving of goals.

Preventing injuries involves listening to your body and basic common sense, so make sure that is Number One on your list!

Life of a Female Chiropractor 4

www.flickr.com/photos/ooohoooh/1350774613/

Happy 2010!  It sure has gotten off to a very fast start.  I feel like it just rolled in and we’re getting ready to turn the page on the calendar to February.  One of the most significant things that has happened in my life as a female chiropractor, is the 2 new chiropractors that have joined my team at Hillarys Chiropractic.

When The Teacher Is Ready, The Student Appears

I have taken on a mentoring role in the practice with 2 new associate chiropractors.  They are both vibrant, enthusiastic and eager to learn. I am committed to assisting them while they embrace and develop into being the best chiropractors that they can be.  With the experience and wisdom of my years in practice, I plan to share and nurture that chiropractic spirit in them to love, give and serve the patients to the best of their ability.

When the Student Is Ready, The Teacher Appears

One of the new mentorees has been a wellness patient of mine for many years.  His understanding of the chiropractic paradigm and commitment to helping people is from the heart.  The other mentoree I had the pleasure of meeting through the other, as they went through the chiropractic course together.   His heart and commitment matches the core values, mission, vision statement of our practice.

Mentoring is a mutually beneficial relationship that involves a more experienced person helping a less experienced person to achieve their goals.

Mentoring provides a unique opportunity to contribute to a student’s career development by sharing knowledge you have acquired through years of experience.

Effective Mentoring

  • focuses on the needs of the person being mentored
  • fosters caring and supportive relationships within the workplace
  • encourages the person being mentored to develop to their optimum potential

As a mentor, the role is one that instructs, helps and guides another in the process of gaining knowledge, understanding and skills.  I want to take this a step further – pointing to something that is already present in the student.  It is like teaching someone to have shoulders.  You can’t really teach someone who already has shoulders, to have shoulders.  However, you can make them more aware of the shoulders they already have.

A mentoring relationship is usually where one wiser and more experienced person assists another person to grow and learn. Humans from the beginning of time have learned norms, values and behaviours by the example and coaching of others.

New adaptations of mentoring allows individuals to interact as colleagues in a helping relationship, on a more equal basis which can cultivate growth and learning to mutual benefit.

Experience, skills and a genuine desire to help are more valuable assets in a mentoring relationship than age or position. Open and assertive communication and the trust of both parties are essential.

Benefits to the Practice

•    Greater productivity
•    Discovery of talent
•    Development of leadership for future survival and prosperity
•    Communication of values, goals and plans
•    Increase in morale and motivation
•    Demonstration of personal and professional standards
•    Achievement of excellent service
•    Implementation of equity initiatives
•    Fostering of shared values and team work
•    Enhancement of leadership and people management skills
•    Revitalised energy
•    Increase in staff satisfaction
•    Building a learning organisation

Benefits to the Mentoree

•    Development of potential
•    Increased knowledge about the practice
•    Flexibility – Mentorees negotiate with their mentors to work within available time and other commitments
•    Self directed learning – Mentorees choose specific learning objectives
•    Give and receive feedback
•    Receive encouragement and support to achieve goals
•    Develop new networks
•    Develop new and/or different perspectives
•    Get assistance with ideas
•    Demonstrate strengths and explore potential
•    Develop visibility within or outside an organisation
•    Be challenged to use talents and share expertise
•    Develop and increase self confidence

Benefits to the Mentor

•    Obtain a greater understanding of the barriers experienced at lower levels of the practice
•    Enhance their own skills in coaching, counselling, listening and modelling
•    The sense of being needed and recognised professionally
•    Develop and practise a more personal style of leadership
•    Gain additional recognition and respect
•    Learn new perspectives and approaches
•    Contribute something to others in the organisation
•    Extend professional networks
•    Demonstrate expertise and share knowledge

Both partners in the mentoring relationship benefit. Learning must be a lifelong process and one of the most effective ways to learn is to assist in the development of others. The best teachers learn much from their students, counsellors constantly learn from clients and partners in any successful relationship grow and develop along the way.

I look forward to our journey ahead, and trust that all will benefit in many forms.

Superfoods – Pumpkin

Pumpkins

Pumpkin is so versatile, and depending what region of the world you come from will determine which form it is used.  When I grew up in Michigan in the United States, the pumpkin I remember eating was in pumpkin pie.  We carved pumpkins for Halloween and actually threw out the flesh!  As an adult living in Australia, I realised how much of a waste that was.  Luckily, my mother roasted the pumpkin seeds and we had those after the Halloween pumpkin jack-o-lantern was carved. At least then we received the health benefits from the pumpkin seeds.  Our family ate pumpkin pie traditionally at Thanksgiving and on Christmas.

I remember when I first moved to Australia, pumpkin was eaten as a savoury vegetable, namely in pumpkin soup.  It was also a favourite roasted vegetable that accompanied various meat roasts.  There were also pumpkin muffins, pumpkin scones and pumpkin bread, that I hadn’t been exposed to before.  In Australia today, pumpkin is thriving in various recipes and I am happy to say that I enjoy the wide variety that pumpkin has to offer.  I still enjoy pumpkin pie too!

Pumpkin flesh contains vitamins C and E, magnesium, potassium and a staggering quantity and variety of carotenoids, being one of the most abundant natural sources of these amazing phytonutrients. There are numerous types of pumpkin in all shapes and sizes with many similar nutritional values.  Although pumpkin is a squash that’s best between late summer and autumn, canned or tin pumpkin is readily available year-round in the United States.  However, here in Australia we tend to puree our own from fresh pumpkin all year round. Pumpkin is also high in fibre with a one-half cup serving providing approximately 5 grams.

Powerful antioxidants known as carotenoids give pumpkin its superfood status. These compounds have the ability to ward off heart disease and cancer as well as certain eye-related diseases.

Pumpkin is packed with various nutrients and carotenoids, particularly alpha and beta carotene. Carotenoids are orange, yellow, and red colored, fat-soluble compounds occurring in a variety of plants.  Carotenoids represent one of the most widespread groups of naturally occurring pigments. These compounds are largely responsible for the red, yellow, and orange color of fruits and vegetables, and are also found in many dark green vegetables. Carotenoids help to protect you from free radicals, enhance cell-to-cell communication, and modulate your immune response. They also protect your skin and eyes from damage caused by ultra violet light.

Pumpkin is the highest source of alpha carotene, which may be even more powerful than beta carotene.  Pumpkin contains 400 percent of the recommended daily allowance of alpha carotene, along with close to 300 percent of beta carotene, and only 83 calories in a cup!
Alpha carotene and beta carotene have been tied with multiple health-promoting and disease-fighting benefits such as:
•    Reduces inflammatory arthritis
•    Decreases the risk of various cancers (breast, lung and colon)
•    Lowers the rate of heart disease

Canned or tin pumpkin puree, which is not the same as the canned pie filling, is cooked down in order to reduce the water content that is still present in a fresh pumpkin. Because of this condensation, canned pumpkin is actually more nutritious than fresh pumpkin!

In fact, it’s not just the inner meat of a pumpkin that’s virtuous but its seeds are super nutritious too and contain a wealth of health-promoting properties. Like melons, cucumber, and squash, pumpkins belong to the gourd family. They were much celebrated by Native American Indians who made use of their flesh and seeds for culinary and medicinal purposes.

Pumpkin seeds are a superfood that the American Native tribes prized for its culinary and medicinal value.

High in fiber and protein, these seeds are also a rich source of minerals including magnesium, manganese, iron, and zinc. Pumpkin seeds are believed to be beneficial for things like prostrate health, bones strength, and arthritis. Pumpkin seeds also contain compounds called phytosterols, which are believed to reduce levels of harmful cholesterol and also improve the body’s immune system.

Pumpkin seeds can now be readily found.  They are sold, raw, roasted, shelled, and unshelled. Pumpkin seeds are also known as pepitas, and they are dark green and flat with a chewy texture and rich nutty flavour. These seeds are dense in minerals, with just a quarter of a cup providing approximately half the daily recommended dose for magnesium and iron, in addition to high doses of zinc, phosphorous, potassium, selenium, manganese and copper. They also contain the amino acid tryptophan known for anti-depressant qualities, and essential fatty acids. These essential fatty acids assist in improving mental function and aiding memory.

The dark green oil produced from pumpkin seeds has been used throughout history in India, Europe and America to fight parasites, aid the digestive tract and help with prostate and reproductive disorders. It has also been recommended for pregnant and lactating women because of its high content of essential fatty acids.

The essential fatty acids in pumpkin seeds are also necessary for prostate health, and zinc (which pumpkin seeds are especially high in) is great for the reproductive systems and has been shown to reduce prostate size, and have been found to help prevent against prostate gland enlargement.

So don’t delay – there are many ways to get the health benefits of pumpkin.  Here’s a recipe link for a good variety of ideas.

Is Your Infant Suffering From Colic?

Crying Babies

If you or someone you know has an unsettled baby, and you don’t know what to do, you may want to investigate taking your baby to a chiropractor.

As your child is being born, natural or Caesarean, the neck and back vertebrae can go out of alignment, causing vertebral subluxation complexes due to the stretching and compressing of the body as it emerges into the world.  If your delivery included a prolonged pushing stage, forceps or vacuum extraction, or other form of assisted delivery, the chances of a misalignment are great.

If the misalignments, called vertebral subluxations, are big enough, the functioning of major systems in the body can be compromised.  The digestive system may be affected and effective digestion of breastmilk and formula can cause major discomfort in your baby, leading to colic episodes.

What Is Colic?

Infantile colic is the term commonly used to describe an otherwise healthy infant who exhibits persistent, forceful crying for no apparent reason.  The crying usually persists for several hours each day and is usually evident at least five days in each week.  Parents’ attempts to comfort the infant by holding and rocking the child, and making sure they are clean and fed have little or no effect on the condition.  The affected infant will have a tense, rumbling abdomen, usually with knees flexed, tight muscles along the spine and be very gassy.  Occasionally the head and neck will be arched backwards.

Many parents are hesitant of taking their small, helpless babies to see a chiropractor.  The main reason being the “crunching and cracking” stereotype that chiropractic can have.

In actuality, the adjustments that a chiropractor will do on your baby is basically applying gently pressure with the fingers or with an adjustment instrument called an Activator to areas on the neck and back.  You may see your baby totally relax before your eyes as the misalignments are corrected.

As with selecting any health care provider, you need to ask questions first, in order to make an informed decision.  Being clear on the objective and the techniques that will be carried out is very important.  Ask for referrals from family or friends that you can contact if you are unsure.

Chiropractic care can be very valuable in helping to calm the colic tendencies in a safe, natural environment.

Hip Pain

Hip pain can afflict a wide range of ages. It is not just a natural part of the ‘aging process’.  Pain in the hip can actually be caused by a variety of things. It may originate from degeneration within the joint itself, referred pain from the lower back, or from chronic tendinitis of the gluteal muscles.  Hip pain may also result from inflammatory conditions or from improper biomechanics in the knee and ankle or foot.

Making sure your pelvis, low back, hips, knees, ankles and feet are in the proper alignment and moving well may help alleviate hip pain and may prevent recurrent episodes.  It is important to first identify the cause of the hip pain, not just treat the symptomatic area. When this is addressed, it is then essential to increase strength and regain mobility in the hip area and help return to previous level of activity.

Degenerative and pathological conditions of the hip can present with a broad range of diagnostic mysteries. For every patient who comes in complaining of pain and discomfort that he or she correctly traces to the hip, there is likely to be another patient with symptoms from the lower back, to the buttocks, to the legs, that eventually can be traced to a hip condition.  On the other hand, conditions like hernia, aneurysm, and iliopsoas bursitis, with no direct hip connection, can cause what a patient may perceive as hip or groin pain.

Hip disease itself manifests as pain in the groin that may radiate all around the thigh and even to the knee. Although a significant number of people present with hip pain, the real challenge is making sure that hip and thigh pain really is a pathology of the hip and not a referred intra-abdominal or retroperitoneal pain.”

Some patients may complain of pain that initially seemed to have nothing to do with the hip, but upon closer questioning and examination, had at least some of its origins there.

Common Causes

Contrary to some belief, age-related degenerative conditions are not the only cause of hip pain, particularly osteoarthritis of the hip joint.  Osteoarthritis isn’t always the reason -it may actually be the ultimate result of damage done to the hip earlier.

Some of the leading causes of hip problems that actually originate within and around the hip include:

  • Overuse injuries and repetitive motion or gait problems
  • Acute injuries, such as fractures, sprains, strains to the lower limb.
  • Avascular necrosis
  • Infections in the joint or bone near the hip -these are usually accompanied by fever, redness, and/or swelling.

After comprehensive examination and diagnosis, the treatment goal should not only be to decrease the patient’s pain levels, but assist in increasing the range of motion in the hip and lower back and restoring proper function. In addition, providing lifestyle options, such as postural changes, core stabilization, how to assume a neutral spine, and home exercises including stretching and strengthening will all assist in limiting stress on the low back and hips.

Tips For Improving Posture

Posture is the position that you hold your body upright against gravity while, sitting, standing or lying down.

Poor posture may result from poor habits that come from things we do every day – activities such as standing for long periods of time, sitting at a computer, driving, and even sleeping.  Poor posture can easily become second nature, causing or aggravating back or neck pain which can lead to damaging spinal structures. The good news is that when it is brought to our awareness, we are able to change and better manage the situations causing the poor posture.

The following guidelines suggest several ways to improve posture and ergonomics especially for people who work sitting in an office chair for most of the day.

  • Be aware of the warning signs caused by poor ergonomics and posture. Back pain may be the result of poor ergonomics and posture if the back pain is worse at certain times of day or week (such as after a long day of sitting in an office chair in front of a computer, but not during the weekends); pain that starts in the neck and moves downwards into the upper back, lower back and extremities; pain that goes away after switching positions while sitting or standing; sudden back pain that is experienced with a new job, a new office chair, or a new car; and/or back pain that comes and goes for months.
  • Get up and move. As muscles get tired, slouching, slumping, and other poor postures become more likely; this in turn puts extra pressure on the neck and back. In order to maintain a relaxed yet supported posture, change positions frequently. One way is to take a break from sitting in an office chair every half hour for two minutes in order to stretch, stand, or walk.
  • Keep the body in alignment while sitting in an office chair and while standing. Try to distribute your body weight evenly to the front, back, and sides of the feet while standing. While sitting in an office chair, use the chair’s features. Sit up straight and align the ears, shoulders, and hips in one vertical line. Even a good position for too long will be tiring. Swap from leaning forward with a straight back and alternate with sitting back against  the support of the office chair to ease the work of the back muscles. Also be aware of and avoid unbalanced postures such as crossing legs unevenly while sitting, leaning to one side, hunching the shoulders forward or tilting the head.
  • Use posture-friendly props and ergonomic office chairs when sitting. Ergonomic supportive “props” can help to take the strain and load off of the spine.  Office chairs that are ergonomically designed or chairs with an adjustable back support can be used at work. Footrests, portable lumbar back supports, or even a towel or small pillow can be used while sitting in an office chair and while driving. Using handbags or backpacks that are designed to minimize back strain can also influence good posture.  Positioning computer screens to your natural eye level position can also help to avoid leaning or straining the neck with the head tilted forward.  Excessive use of a laptop can be hazardous, so a laptop raiser could be beneficial.
  • Increase awareness of posture and ergonomics in everyday settings. This includes making conscious thoughts and connections to your posture not only at work, but at home and during social activities.
  • Use exercise to help prevent injury and promote good posture. Regular exercise such as walking, swimming, or bicycling will help the body stay aerobically conditioned, while specific strengthening exercises will help the muscles surrounding the back to stay strong. These benefits of exercise promote good posture, which will, in turn, further help to condition muscles and prevent injury. There are also specific exercises that will help maintain good posture.  Core strength is essential to develop and maintain to help support the upper body and maintain good posture.
  • Wear supportive footwear when standing. Avoid regularly wearing high-heeled shoes, which can affect the body’s center of gravity and change the alignment of the entire body, negatively affecting the spine and posture. When standing for long periods of time, placing a rubber mat on the floor can improve comfort.
  • Remember good posture and ergonomics when in motion. Walking, lifting heavy materials, holding a telephone, and typing are all moving activities that require attention to ergonomics and posture. It is important to maintain good posture even while moving to avoid injury. Back injuries are especially common while twisting and/or lifting and often occur because of awkward movement and control of the upper body weight alone.
  • Create ergonomic physical environments and workspaces, such as for sitting in an office chair at a computer. It does require a small investment of time to personalize the workspace, home, and car, but the payoff will be well worth it. Undue strain will be placed on the structures of the spine unless the office chair, desk, keyboard, and computer screen, etc. are correctly positioned.
  • Avoid overprotecting posture. Remember that it is important to maintain an overall relaxed posture and therefore avoid restricting movements like clenching muscles and adopting an unnatural, stiff posture. For individuals who already have some back pain, it is a natural tendency to try to limit movements to avoid the potential pain associated with movement. However, unless there is a fracture or other serious problem, the structures in the spine are designed for movement and any limitation in motion over a long period of time creates more pain and a downward cycle of less motion and more pain, etc.

Improving Posture

We live in a society where either posture is not taught, or it is taught in such a way that kids come to resent it, meaning they have a parent or grandparent that is always telling them “don’t slouch” or “stand up straight!” Typically when this happens, a person’s first reaction is to thrust their shoulders back and stick their lower back out which in turn creates even more of a problem. Holding your shoulders rigidly back, and putting too much curve in your lower spine can cause just as many problems as slumping with shoulders rolled forward. Even though this is what is often thought of as appropriate posture, it actually is not.

Whatever the reasons for bad posture, whether it be poorly designed desks when we are in school, bosses who don’t have ergonomic chairs for those who sit at a computer all day, or just our own misunderstanding of what good posture is, bad posture has become a real problem for all of society.

Bad posture can be caused by a number of reasons such as, sitting for too long, standing for too long, being depressed or anxious, using poorly designed furniture, and stress. However, whatever a person’s reason for poor posture, anyone can change their posture at any time with just a little effort. Keep in mind it is not necessary to expend large amounts of effort on good posture. Remember that holding shoulders rigidly back, and having excessive curve in the lower back is not good posture, but simply another form of bad posture.

Bad posture may cause back problems, and exacerbate existing health problems even if the existing health problems such as a seasonal cold aren’t severe or permanent. So, what can you do to improve your poor posture?

The first thing you want to do when it comes to improving your posture is to become aware and understand what good posture really is. Good posture is when your spine is straight but with a slight curve in the lower spine, and your shoulders are rolled back just a bit (but not rigidly so) so that it is as if your shoulder blades could slide down your back. Your chin should be level with the ground, not drooping as if it were going to tuck into your chest.

The best way to get an idea of this is to stand up straight, but not too rigid. Imagine there is a metal string hanging from a hook in your ceiling that is attached to the top of your head. Pretend that this string can pull up just enough to align all the bones in your skeleton just right so that your head, neck and shoulders are aligned with your spine and on down to your feet. This is what it is like to have good posture. You can perform the same test when sitting, just make sure you have a chair that allows your feet to rest flat on the ground. If you are a woman wearing heels, they automatically throw your spine out of alignment by tipping your pelvis unnaturally forward.

Some other things you can do to improve your posture are using an ergonomic chair (with lumbar support) at your desk, and/or lower your chair so that your feet rest flat on the floor while you are sitting at your desk. A footrest may help too. Another is not to sit for long periods of time without getting up and walking around a bit, even if it is just to walk around your desk or cubicle space. You should also take time to stretch, or better yet begin practicing Office Yoga which are yoga postures you can do at your desk. Taking classes such as yoga or tai chi or Pilates that emphasize good posture can help as well.

When you find yourself slumping or sliding back into your old posture habits don’t be too hard on yourself. Instead simply be gentle and kind with yourself and begin to practice good posture again. In time good posture will become a habit. Remind yourself with sticky notes at your computer or around the house wherever you spend the most time. When it does you will notice that you feel a lot better. You may even find that you can handle stress better as well. These are only a few of the benefits of good posture, there are many others such as less or no back pain. Improving your posture will improve the quality of your life.