Protect your spine: Reminders to change positions and sit up straight

As a chiropractor I often treat patients who sit for long periods of time working at their computers.  They come to see me with headaches, neck, shoulders, upper back pain and even lower back pain.  One of the worst positions for the body is sitting. What’s even worse, is sitting with poor posture.  The pain my patients are experiencing is a result of postural strain.

How can we prevent postural strain?

There are two methods that I recommend to my followers on Facebook and Twitter and to my patients at my office. One thing you should do is take frequent breaks from sitting. I made this recommendation, as well, in my blog post:  Ask the Chiropractor: What is the ideal chair to use?  Secondly, I recommend sitting up straight. I use these cues with my patients, “Head back? Shoulders back? Slight arch to the back”.

These reminders are all well and good but without having someone standing beside you all day reminding you we both know that you are going to fall back into your old habits.  So here are a few ways you can remind yourself.

Reminder Methods

  1. Using the scheduler/task list on your computer (ie. Outlook express, Mozilla Thunderbird, Google Calender etc) and add an event/task.  If you start your day at 8:30. Schedule your task/event for 8:50 and have it remind you 20 minutes before.  Use a simple sentence to describe your task/event such as, “Posture”, “Time to move” or both of these. When you are reminded select the option to postpone the reminder for 20 minutes.  This will allow you to remind yourself every 20 minutes.
  2. Purchase a timer like an egg timer or a Gymboss.  With the timer you can set the time for 20 minutes and let it count down until it goes off. When it  beeps you will change positions, correct your posture or both. Repeat this procedure throughout the day.  The problem with this option is that if you work in an office this will be very disturbing to the rest of your colleagues.  The Gymboss is a better option because it has a vibration mode and if you work out you can use it for different methods of training like high intensity interval training.
  3. You could also try using a browser based timer, such as the one here.  Set the time for 20 minutes and repeat throughout the day.
  4. You could also follow my twitter feed and you can be reminded at least 4 times throughout the day. Followers have even told me they now sit up straight/change position any time these a message posted from me. Others have said they now sit up straight because of my reminders.

I hope with these tips you will be able to help minimize the postural strain on your body so that you can enjoy your life and your job, pain-free.

Until next time

Dr Notley

Chiropractor and Athletic Therapist in Winnipeg

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