Stress is the number one cause of most, if not all pains and diseases.
The three types of stressors are:
- a) chemical-what we eat and breath
- b) mental stress-relationship, finances, work, etc
- c) physical stress – sports injuries, falls, traumas, car accidents
This information is about the physical stress most people do not know about. It causes the most damage to the spine and leads to chronic issues such as arthritis and ongoing muscle and joint pain. It’s repetitive stress.
In today’s workplace, about 86% of people sit at the computer. Even worse, surveys revealed that after work, an average person sits another 3-5 hours when driving, eating dinner, reading and watching shows/movies and sleep for 8 hours leading to a sedentary life of 21 hours. This repetitive lifestyle has been labeled sitting disease, which is the major cause of metabolic syndrome.
Sitting has also been identified as “sitting is the next smoking,” due to the physical and metabolic stress it causes to your body.
When sitting at the computer, the legs and arms should be at a 90° with the feet flat on the floor. The computer should be raised to a minimum of eye level or 15-20° higher so that your head is tilted up a bit. The reason for this change in computer height is so that you do not slouch and have a forward head translation. Normal posture should always have your ears over your shoulder for proper mechanics and function of your spinal joints (Look at your colleagues at the computer and count how many have that posture). For every inch the head leans forward, it adds an extra 10-15lbs of pressure to your spine, specifically the base of your neck and upper back. You are also breathing in 20-30% less oxygen when looking down compared to straight or elevated. Now think this goes on for about 6-8 hours, five days a week and how many years you have been sitting like this at your desk. Of course, you will have neck pain, tight traps, and headaches. That’s why these exercises are a must for your daily routine. These practices were created by Dr. Ron Kirk who developed “Straighten up America Program” for schools because studies were showing that students started having the same symptoms as adults.
Inner Winner and Freedom Stretch: Stand up, bring belly button to spine, look up. Stretch your arms back and down. Take 3-5 big breathes to open up your lungs, stretching chest muscles and breathing in more oxygen.
Eagle: Stand in the Inner winner position, belly to spine, looking up a little. Now raise arms up and down like an eagle flapping its wings.
Hummingbird/Don’t shoot: while standing, bring your arms up bent at elbows as if you’re in the “Don’t shoot” position. Now squeeze your shoulder blades and make small circles with your arms. This activates the back muscles to help restore posture. Do this for 10 seconds, twice.
Butterfly stretch: While standing, clasp your fingers behind your head (as if your resting your head on hands) and bring your elbows to the front of your face and back to original position. This creates a butterfly flapping its wings look. This exercise allows for stretching and strengthening of the upper back and shoulder muscles to relieve tension. Then, massage your traps.