It is important to listen to your client and always hone your skills. Listen to this testimony of a client.
All of us know of parents, grandparents, neighbors, anyone that comes into your mind that you have noticed a change in their posture over the years. Is this now happening to you? Maybe? Changing posture is a very insidious occurrence. We don’t physically notice the changes until we can no longer reach high up in the cabinet for that special bowl we need. Or, our lower back becomes stiff from sitting for even as much as 20 minutes. Or we can no longer squat to the ground as we were once able. Or turning your head as you back up your car is now either stiff or painful. You then develop alternative methods because you can no longer perform these movements. Why is this? Losing the range of motion in any one joint causes changes and alterations in many other areas in your body that you are not aware of! This is especially true when there is not a traumatic event to associate the changes with. Let us review a few reasons why this occurs and then a few methods to combat the soft tissue changes that ultimately change our posture.
Soft Tissue Has Power!
Normally, we do not think of our soft tissues has having power, but they certainly do. Fascia, the newest accepted organ of the body is meant to be strong, elastic, and slide and glide as we move. It has a covering, whether thick or thin, over every part and parcel in our body. Fascia is strong and is known to have contractile powers, yet not eccentric abilities. Eccentric means the ability for a tissue, as in muscle to contract, yet become long at the same time. This means that fascia once contracted repeated over time may have the tendency to want to remain in the position. This is one reason that creates abnormal forces on tendons and joints. With this being said, static postures that is your worst repetitive motion, awkward postures, highly repetitive motions without rests, unexercising, incorrect food intake, emotional stressors, all together form to create changes within your body that you cannot detect until; until you cannot turn your head normally until you cannot squat to the floor normally until you cannot reach high into the cabinet for the bowl, and until you feel that stiffness upon standing when only sitting for 20 minutes. All of this changes your posture. Now you may notice that increased thoracic curve if looking in the mirror, or your shoulders are so far forward, you have these indents between your pecs and collar bones.
Regain Your Power Over Your Soft Tissue!
I am not the pessimist or fatalist. I am heralding a trumpet call for any individual that really wants to create optimal changes in their body. Even if you have Parkinson’s, you can maintain optimal postures for much longer periods of time. My husband is proof of this. What are some methods to create changes for an optimal body posture? It does demand commitment of daily work, 5 – 10 minutes. Your diligence will pay off. Will the changes happen quickly? It takes the time it takes. The more time you put into this the faster the results. And, no, the results are not permanent. This is a lifestyle change. First, you want to take a baseline of where you are in your joint motions:
Since pictures are worth a thousand words, here are movements that are considered normal and you should strive for:
Thank you SFMA for this picture!
These movements should not cause pain! Do not attempt if you already know you have joint movement challenges in any of these areas. This is meant to bring to your attention how malleable we can still become.
STRATEGIES TO INCREASING YOUR OPTIMAL POSTURE AND MOVEMENT
Many of us have challenges in one or more joints. Choose the least restricted joint and begin to slowly use a dynamic movement, rather than a prolonged stretch, to increase the range of motion. Laying down is a great method to use for neck, shoulders, hips, knees, and low back. Remember, this is how babies begin to increase their range of motion and strength; they are laying down first because they do not have the trunk control sit up. So, babies begin by wiggling and jiggling, and discovering a hand, a foot, and work on that movement. They do not know they are exercising and increasing in the range of motion along with muscle strength and control.
The best method is to contact a professional to educate, teach, and empower you to optimize your soft tissue so you have power over your soft tissue!
Whether your client is from your personal training facility, out patient physical / occupational therapy, an athlete preparing for the upcoming season, or the industrial athlete, all of them, have the same in common, which, is to be successful in the reasons the client came to see us to begin with. This comes to the point: the clients’ willingness to understand instructions and their consistent performing of the specific movements for at home or at work. I don’t wish to be portrayed as the movement tyrant, yet to contrast the length and breadth of work and passion that health and wellness professionals invest in their clients, we are the educators, facilitators and cheer leaders. We cannot “get” them better, without their all-in commitment.
Expectations and the relationship established begins with the first meeting. Cultivating rapport with your client is number one. This is where you listen. Listening will establish their particular learning style, preferences, life history; all of which are ingredients to the outcome. Clients that are attaining their goals, building commitment, and changing habits that feed into attaining their goals will be long life relationships and wonderful referrals.
How do we really know if our client is really practicing their assignments?
People that know me, hear me say often, “one size fits one”. This is veritable. For that reason, it is incumbent on us as health and wellness professionals to discern minute details of our clients. It is the details that determine if our clients are utilizing the new information, if they are struggling, or possibly not as committed as we are expecting. Here, your critical eye for movement, posture, and listening will speak volumes to you if your client is slacking, trying without the results, or truly displaying their gains.
- Rapport building
- Expectations from both of you at the very beginning
- Ensure your client truly understands and demonstrates what they are learning
- Can they verbalize and teach that back to you
- How many times can they discern the proper movement pattern from the incorrect one
Surface electromyography, Semg, has been in existence for a number of years. It is recently now gained attention and respect of many professional sports teams, college teams and others that wish to hone in on why they are moving they way they do. Abnormal movement can be created by a host of issues that most often are not occurring at the location where your pain or weakness is experienced. Using Semg can determine muscle firing patterns and aberrant firing patterns that you are not aware of. Here is an example of someone that works in packing for export, and moves 75 lbs of 4’ x 8’ pieces of plywood several times a day. NIOSH would probably look down on that, however, this is the reality of many industries that export via trucks, and shipping containers. This is a fact of life, yet, if one can move better, than less risk of soft tissue break down and injury will occur. AND, the worker’s physical abilities will remain strong as they age.
By simply using a different and effective techniques, this worker will not have to use as many of his muscle firing capability, thereby, his fatigue rate will lessen dramatically in addition to the aforementioned reduction of several risk factors that are common in physical industries.
And the wonderful aspect of using Semg is that there is no limit on what can be found that the human eye, camera, ergo assessments will never pick up.
WHAT IS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF CHANGES?
Every sensor demonstrated a dramatic improvement via less muscle activation to perform the same job, just a different way.
Call us at 803-275-7675 to have us help you create a safer work environment!
SERIES 2 : YOU CAN EXERCISE WHILE WORKING AT YOUR DESK
To recap the first series on working from home, we focused on the chair. If the equipment you will be using for extended periods of time doesn’t fit, you will be sore, achy and miserable. And, this is not the goal. Monitoring height and placement of a keyboard and mouse are as important; that will be in another series. So, we must think, humans are meant to move and not be sedentary. The voluminous amounts of research that reports the deleterious affects metabolically, physically and emotionally are almost scary to think of what we are doing to ourselves. There is no one to blame but yourself. If you are reading this, then the likely hood that you desire changes that can fit into a hectic lifestyle that you may not have the ability to control well are high. This short paper is only to begin to introduce to you the idea, developing the commitment and carry through, as many of us want the change, but never seem to get there. So, the concepts you will learn are:
- You never arrive nor attain – you are always in a state of arriving and changing.
- Routine is in the commitment of daily. Yes, daily. No days off to speak of.
- Moldability is the ability to adapt to time, internal awareness of yourself, (physically and emotionally), and change what you do and how you do it that day.
- Your imagination is your own limitation. Learn to build from concepts about yourself, your capabilities to build a tool box with the learning you might garner here.
- True honesty about yourself. Only you know about you. And, most of the time, it takes a life time learn about ourselves – the reason why human factors is such a difficult area. We don’t know ourselves like we think we do.
THE 15 MINUTE OR LESS RULE
Our company performs a lot of surface electromyography (Semg) on employees and clients. Why? This information allows us to visually see how the muscle that the sensor is on is working. Years of research now shows that muscles fatigue rate can be faster or they can mis-fire secondary to a multitude of reasons. What is consistent in 99% of people we use Semg on is that the muscle show patterns of fatigue well before the person is even slightly aware of any fatigue, soreness, stiffness, or other physical symptom. Our data shows that muscles begin to show changes around the 13 minute mark of static positions, repetitive motions, or heavy lifting. The question now becomes whether the fatigue is good or not good. This requires the professional to understand how to read and interpret the findings. In our case here for the person that spends many hours at a computer, upper trapezius and spinal erector muscles fatigue quickly. More so in women than men. Forearm extensor muscles also fatigue prior to 15 minutes from use of the keyboard and mouse. PPS has not tested, but the data is out there that the gluteal muscles we sit on for such long periods of time begin to lose their speed of firing. Yes, the gluteal muscles work because we are standing and walking, but at a slower rate and not as many muscle fibers fire. This now adds to the complexity of why so many people have joint and tissue problems. Other muscles must take up the slack that other muscles are not performing. Mind you, all of this is taking place and you are not aware of it. It is something that you don’t feel, until so many changes have taken place, joint problems, pain patterns set in.
What Happens Every 15 Minutes?
You must find a timer that will reset every 15 minutes. When the timer goes off, you will change your posture, and perform one exercise and one stretch. It will be in the developing of this repertoire that will make you successful. The success will come in various positive adjustments:
- You are now consistently consistent with the 15 minute protocol.
- Instead of noticing that right upper trap trigger point at 2 hours, you don’t notice it until later in the day, followed by not at all!
- Your stamina is increasing, which, means you are increasing in strength.
- You may not be as irritable, because now you are accomplishing much more than the work you are employed to do, but at the same time, you are exercising, a commodity that is a necessity not a novelty. And the quality of work produced is better, because you are better focused on work than that tight low back or sore lateral elbow.
- Interacting with the family is not a chore now.
- This list is endless.
You know, we are not rubber bands and don’t “stretch” like we think. Yes, there are many elastic components in our body; none the less we are not rubber bands. Our tissues actually slide, glide, through and around each other that creates the movement. And our tissues are very well connected, like a forest of spider webs after a light misty rain. When you “stretch” you are encouraging tissue gliding to its fullest capacity. In the beginning, stretching is often frustrating, because we are now very aware of how tight and adhesed our tissues have become. Using the 15 minute rule, you will see changes quicker. THE MOST IMPORTANT RULE WITH ANY STRETCH IS THE QUALITY OF THE MOVE AND ALWAYS TO NO PAIN!
Quality ensures the optimal movement and the NO PAIN says you are not being aggressive, which, can damage tissues you are attempting to become more flexible and strong.
Any exercise holds the same truth: Quality not quantity and to NO PAIN. Exercises serves many purposes:
- Build strength
- Build stamina
- To optimize movement patterns
The number 3.) is where you will be taking your best guess, as there is no professional to watch, guide, and teach you the correct movement from the wrong movement. This is a kinesthetic exercise as well. You must think about the movement: how does it feel, and where? Is one side easier than the other? And watching YouTube may not give you the answer, because you are not that person you are watching. You have a different life history, different medical or physical abilities or challenges, and certain different tissue adhesions. So, here we will make the beginning easy and have more writing on what is and is not the way to perform an exercise. And do not hesitate to contact us so we can help through video conferencing.
FOREARMS / UPPER TRAPEZIUS / NECK
How often we take for granted a part of our body until we cringe at the thought of picking up something small. Much of the time it is due to the forearm tissues being so adhesed that the smallest of function required causes pain.
When stretching, you can use them as a slow movement or hold for 5 – 10 seconds. Holding a stretch for longer periods of time, slows down the speed of the muscle firing ability for a while. Not a bad thing after a work out. But during the day, using these as slow movements helps to restore normal firing patterns in addition to the all important tissue gliding.
SERIES ONE: YOUR CHAIR IS THE FOUNDATION FOR A BETTER POSTURE
The ability to change your posture yet maintain a good posture when working at a computer for extended time periods is like good real estate: location, location, location! Without going into extreme details, good and changing postures maintain optimal joint alignment, uses various muscle groups for sustaining of different postures, that ultimately reduce those nasty trigger points on either side of the base of your neck, low back stiffness, and other stiff joints. Most often we sit in chairs at work, that have rollers on them, side arms, and some handle mechanisms to change the height or tilt of the chair. And if the chair you use does not help you when at work, your physical complaints begin to over ride your ability to focus on tasks at hand. In many organizations, you may not have a choice of the chair that is good for you. Now that you may be working from home, your choices and adaptations expand immensely. For an example: at work you would like to sit on an exercise ball, but the company policy is no exercises balls to be used as chairs secondary to liability reasons. At home, you can certainly use an exercise ball as a choice.
Lets begin with the “I don’t have a chair with wheels, and that would certainly be nice to have.” Find one or two chairs, that will fit several postural changes and attach furniture sliders on the legs by attaching them with sticky backed Velcro.
This way the sliders are easily removed. Placing sliders on the legs allows to push the chair around without too much friction and resistance. If your home office space is hardwood or tile, use the thick felt pads and attach them in the same manner with Velcro.
At home, you can make most chairs fit for changing your posture frequently, thereby reducing over fatigue of postural muscles. The key component is when changing your posture, work in a stretch or a 15 second exercise. All which helps to “reset” muscle firing patterns and to normalize postural muscle firing rates.
So, you have picked out a few chairs. The next step is to figure out which one or two will work better for you. The chair is a piece of equipment that can determine your pelvic position. This is important to determine optimal pelvic alignment first.
GOLD: The Position of Your Pelvis is the Foundation to How the Rest of You Aligns!
I wrote a piece before about good posture in sitting, and, I think redundancy builds in the habit; so let’s review how pelvic alignment really aligns the remainder of your spine that includes your head. Your pelvis, made up of 3 bones on the left and right side of your body connect to your sacrum, the triangular bone at the base of your lumbar spine. All together these bones form a bowl shape. Your hips are also apart of the pelvis. The red circle surrounds this pelvic region. The picture to the right shows the person in what is called a “posterior pelvic tilt”. Nothing wrong with that, but this tilt of the pelvis is actually dictating how the spinal bones will align traveling to the head. This posture creates a domino affect to the rest of your torso, including your shoulders. And, with prolonged static postures, as is common in computer tasks, the muscles associated with posture begin to behave abnormally, that you cannot detect. By the time you detect muscle soreness, fatigue, headaches, or joint stiffness, this abnormal muscle firing and firing patterns have been going on inside of you for a long time.
Current ergonomic postulates state that the hips and knees should be at a 90 degree angle for proper sitting postures at seated work stations. Yet when hips are flexed at 90 degrees, the pelvis is more apt to be in a posterior position. The many individuals will correct by increasing the pelvic tilt to an anterior tilt that increases lower lumbar disc pressure. All of this information, still very basic, may appear to be too detailed, yet it is in the understanding of your position, that will empower you to do and correct properly.
The picture to the left has the hips in more of a 100 degree angle, which, is good. Now begin to look up the spine: The red line shows the true plumb line. So, in this picture, the person is leaning back slightly, which increases shear force on the sacrum, increases a forward head and rounded shoulder posture. I would not use this picture as a good visual for seated posture.
Learning from Visuals
Since most of us have difficulty “feeling” where our body’s are in space and understanding and feeling a correct manner verses what we are used to doing, (usually not correct), and if there is no professional to truly help you to discern and self correct, then good visuals are another method. Since this paper is to talk solely on the chair, the above are pictures that can help you to learn an optimal posture that you can sustain. Let me repeat here again that sustain static positions are the worst repetitive motion, therefore sitting for long periods of time at a work station, say, longer than 15 minutes, reeks havoc not only on the musculoskeletal system, but metabolically as well. Use some of the short visual basics as choosing and using a chair to your greatest advantage!
If you ever have any questions, feel free to reach out to us!