The Ergonomics of RELAXATION

Most people think about ergonomics when they’re at a computer in an office. But what about during other activities that are more for relaxation—like gaming, watching a movie or just checking Facebook on your phone? Ergonomics applies to all the things we use our body for during the day—not just when you’re in the office at a desk. Here are some tips for activities that most of us do at some point during the day.

Checking your Phone

You may have heard the term “tech neck” or “text neck.” Well, it’s for real folks. Don’t bend your head over to view your phone or tablet. Instead move the device up into the viewing range OF YOUR EYES. That may mean propping a pillow under your elbows in order to maintain the viewing height for prolonged periods while in a seated position. Or just raising your hand to the level of your face in order to view the screen. And remember, your eyeballs can move! So, you can look down at your phone just by MOVING YOUR EYES and NOT your head.

Think about it this way: See the graphic below? Dr. Ken Hansraj did some pretty cool research to find out exactly how much pressure there is on the human neck when you bend your head forward to look at your phone. Even just a slight forward movement of the neck to view your phone can exponentially increase the amount of pressure on your spine, discs and muscles. At just 30 degrees of forward neck flexion, you get 40lbs of pressure…that’s equivalent to a 5 gallon jug of water! Check out the infographic from DegreeSearch.org to get an idea of just how much pressure you are putting on your neck.

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text neck copy


Via: DegreeSearch.org <http://degreesearch.org>

Watching TV

If your favorite chair is not ergonomically positioned in front of your TV, you are most likely craning your neck in order to view the show. Maintaining your neck in a rotated position for prolonged periods can cause joint dysfunction and muscle tension and/or imbalance which can lead to neck pain, headaches and even jaw pain. So, when you sit down tonight to watch your favorite flick, think about moving your furniture around to accommodate better viewing angles.

Gaming

Think about the posture of gaming exactly like you would if you were in the office. You must have the control/joystick/keyboard at the right height for your arms. You must have the TV/monitor at the right height for your eyes. And finally you must support your spine in an upright posture.

CRW_1831Kelly BW

copyright 2009 CPTC

Reading a Book

Whether it’s a real book with paper pages or a digital book on your tablet, don’t bend your head down to view the pages (remember the graphic above!). Raise the pages up to your eyes. That may mean propping a pillow under your elbows in order to maintain the viewing height for prolonged periods while in a seated position. If you are lying down or reclining, perhaps bend your knees and support them with a pillow, then prop the book on another pillow on top of your knees.

Internet Surfing

If you spend more than about 15-30 minutes checking email, checking Facebook or hunting for that perfect pair of shoes, you need to arrange for proper ergonomics. If you’re using a tablet or phone, it may be as easy as using pillow to prop the device as described in the “Reading a Book” section above. But if you’re using laptop, you should really consider a docking station at a table or desk so that your neck and arms are at the proper level. Check out the Workrite Ergonomics website for details on proper ergonomics. Don’t slouch, get off the couch! You know who you are if this pic looks familiar!

6 ways to combat text neck.

Longus coli strengthening:

 

Noodle thoracic spine laying:

CRW_1659Jill BW

copyright 2009 CPTC

 

Pec doorway stretch:

Pec stretch door

copyright 2009 CPTC

 

Supine stability ball:

CRW_1715Ryan BW

copyright 2009 CPTC

 

Theraband Lat pull-downs:

 

Standing theraband row:

 

Blog by:

Kelli Crosby, PT, COMT

Physical Therapist/Owner – South Location

 

Practical Self-Care Tips to Help You Prevent Pain and Injury on the Slopes: Part 1

Everyone knows that squats and lunges are great exercises to help you handle the steep and deep.  But did you know that preventing injury on the slopes starts in your bedroom?  Keep reading to find out the three things I teach my patients to prevent pain on the slopes—or even while doing yard work—these tips will help you prevent pain before it begins.

1. Preventing pain on the slopes starts…in the bedroom

The things you do to your body while you sleep at night, determine how your body performs the next day.  If you sleep in a twisted position all night long, it’s not hard to imagine why your back fails you during your 4th run on a powder day.  Sleep position is a common topic at our clinic because it can impact everything from neck pain and headaches to low back and buttock pain.  Here are some things to consider when you hit the sack:

If you are a stomach sleeper:

In order to breathe you must twist your neck to one side.  This is not an ideal position for your neck for a prolonged period (imagine sitting at a desk all day in that position—definitely a violation of ergonomic principles).  So, my usual tip to patients is to try to sleep on your sides or back, if at all possible.

If you are a back sleeper:

Make sure your neck is supported with a pillow that is not too thick or too thin, in order to maintain neutral alignment of the spine.  Try putting a pillow under your knees if your back bothers you in this position.

If you are a side sleeper:

Don’t sleep in a twisted position like the photo on the left below.  Also, the pillow choice advice above applies here too.

2. Preventing pain on the slopes starts…in your chair

We treat so many desk jockeys at our clinic it’s no wonder that when the weekend includes 6-8 hours of skiing (and sometimes falling), Monday arrives with pain.  Even if you don’t sit at a desk for a living, you most likely sit for prolonged periods using a handheld device—gaming, facebook, checking email, etc.  It is absolutely necessary to undo what you’ve done all week, such as prolonged sitting or slouching (ahem), if you want to reduce pain on the weekend and be ready for a powder day.

Posture 101:

Roll your hips forward to reduce pressure on your buttocks and restore the natural lordosis of the lumbar spine.  Don’t stick your chinforward or let your upper back and shoulders roll forward.  Instead pretend the hair on the crown of your head is being pulled upward toward the ceiling

Ergonomics 101:

For Pete’s sake don’t sit on the couch like this!  A laptop should only be on your lap if you are using it for less than 30 minutes; otherwise you need to create a docking station at a desk or table.  In general: sit up straight, support your low back, get the monitor at eye level, and make sure you are typing with your elbows at a greater than 90° angle.

 

3. Preventing pain on the slopes starts…in the home

Whether you realize it or not you are doing things every single day that make your back a target for injury.  Every time you bend improperly to unload the dishwasher or pick up your socks off the floor you are setting yourself up for pain on the slopes.  Don’t curve your back when you bend forward, instead bend your knees and hips and keep your back straight.

There you have it. Now you know simple things that you can change in your daily routine to keep you from setting youself up for a rough day on the slopes. The best way to keep injury and painfree on the slopes is to make sure that your postures and body mechanics off the slopes are not putting your musculo-skeletal system at risk.  This post is a part 1 in a series of 2 blogs that will help you prevent pain and injuries during your winter weekends on the mountains. Stay tuned to our blog or Facebook page to see the second part of this series on injury prevention. In the meantime, stay safe out there and stop in or call us if you have any questions on prevention or a current injury!

Kelli Crosby, PT, COMPT

Owner

Synergy Manual Physical Therapy – South Office

North Office (map)
4105 Briargate Parkway
Suite 255
Colorado Springs, CO 80920
phone 719.282.2320
fax 719.282.2330

South Office (map)
600 South 21st Street
Suite 130
Colorado Springs, CO 80904
phone 719.634.1110
fax 719.634.1112