If commuting is an inevitable part of your lifestyle, keep the damage at bay…
…by being proactive. There is no use denying it: commuting is a stress inducer- to the body and to the brain, it can be hard to find positives for sitting in traffic twice a day besides the fact that it gets you to work to earn your daily bread. If we must commute, let’s be smart about it: here are some ways that we came up with to negate the effects of a commuter lifestyle.
In the car, keep the zen alive.
- Driving posture: stay upright with hands at 9 and 3. Use a rolled up jacket to support the lumbar
- Deep breathing: Use this time to focus on establishing a pattern of deep breathing and get the oxygen you need to stay sane.
- Podcasts: while the news is important, it can add to your stress level. Switch it up and focus on a subject you love with a podcast; it will keep your brain engaged and happy.
- Comfortable shoes: wait til you reach the office to put on those stiff shoes! Slippers can be a comfortable way to commute.
- Stretching: the neck and lower back are the regions which take the most damage during a drive- simple stretches can reverse this damage.
On the train, take a deep breath.
- Focus on relaxing activities: reading, listening to your favorite music or a podcast.
- Progressive relaxation: tense a different muscle group with each inhale and release on the exhale.
- Massage yourself: focus on trigger points to release muscles from tension.
Don’t let stress sink you before you reach the office
These techniques can help you stay balanced as you enter the workplace and this sets you off on the right foot. One way that we help at Park Slope Chiropractic is by reversing the damage that may have been wrought from years of commuting. By focusing on keeping the spine in balance and reversing muscle tension, we can help you experience less pain which is sure to take a bit of stress out of the picture.
Dr. Karen Thomas, D.C.
Forward head posture is a modern conundrum
When interacting with a mobile device, chances are your posture is less than perfect. Unless you have the perfect ergonomic set up at all times of the day, you are likely to slip into a position where you are slumped forward or craning down over a cell phone. This behavior conditions the muscles of our neck into a forward head posture, away from its center of gravity, the spine.
Forward head posture is problematic because for each inch your head is held forward, another 10 pounds of pressure is added to the spine.
Now consider that many people we see are walking around with their heads forward 2-3 inches without even realizing and you begin to see how pervasive the problem is in our society. If you carry this kind of weight around, you are also carrying a greater likelihood for degenerative spinal conditions and painful muscle strain.
Adapting for our spine’s sake
Do you have forward head posture? Perform the wall test by standing straight up against a wall with heels shoulder-width apart and shoulder blades touching the wall. Does the back of your head touch the wall? Be honest. If not, this is a good indicator that you are carrying your head forward throughout the day. If this is the case, don’t freak out! It is a reversible problem; the sooner you start the better!
Approaching the Forward Head Problem
Because you have repetitively trained your neck muscles into holding your head forward, we need to train them differently. There is a likelihood that certain muscles such as the occipitals and sternocleidomastoid are overly-tight. We focus on releasing these muscles from tension and strengthening the muscles that matter for holding your head centered atop the spine. Behavior and awareness are equally important- if you notice your head creeping forward throughout the day, make a correction. Soon enough your head will naturally rest where it is supposed to be-atop your body!
Dr. Karen Thomas, D.C.
Posture is a constant challenge
Even if we know the basics of “perfect posture,” we still find ourselves slumped over at different points of the day. What we fail to realize is that we are fighting a losing battle. Of course the human body was never meant to sit for so many hours, so even if you could maintain perfect posture for 8 straight hours, your body would still be incurring some damage.
The trick is to change your position regularly throughout the day
But this is highly unrealistic for many workers, so instead we have come up with a list of tricks to keep posture on your side.
- #1 most important: pull your shoulders back and let them relax. The computer has a way of making us look like hunched over gremlins, and pulling your shoulders back defeats this position completely.
- Following this, check that your ears are aligned with your shoulders. This will stop your head from creeping forward and destabilizing the spine.
- Place a pillow or a jacket in the curvature of your lower back to help maintain a neutral posture.
What you will notice right away is that your body, even in this new position, begins to feel stiffer even more quickly than when you were slouching. It’s OK! This is your body adjusting to a normal position and the transition period is a small price to pay for the benefits of proper posture.
Most important of all, listen to your body.
If it feels stiff, stretch. If you notice your shoulders creeping, adjust. If your circulation feels stagnant, get up and have a quick walk. You get the idea! But will you act on it?
Dr. Karen Thomas, D.C.