Posture and Chiropractic

 

What are the benefits of good posture?

 

“Sit up straight” or “don’t slump” is advice we have all probably heard at sometime during our lives, as someone is trying to tell us to fix our bad posture. But you may not understand why having good posture is so important, and all the benefits that good posture can bring about. Here are just some of the many benefits that having good posture1:

  • Less chance of pain in the neck or lower back – poor posture places stress on these areas and can cause pain
  • Decreased incidence of headaches – poor posture leads to increased muscle tension at the back of the neck which can cause tension headaches
  • Increased energy levels – when all of our joints are in their correct alignment this allows our muscles to work at their best, which stops them from using excess energy, so this energy can be used elsewhere in the body
  • Decreased risk of joint degeneration – poor posture places excess stress on some joints, which can eventually lead to degeneration
  • Increased lung capacity – slouching compresses your lungs, having good posture gives your lungs more room to expand
  • Improved circulation and digestion – just like your lungs, other organs can be compressed with bad positioning, good posture allows your organs to work at their best, helping with functions such as circulation and digestion
  • Improved core strength and reduce injury – good posture allows your core and back muscles to stay active and engaged, resulting in a strong core. This strong core protects our spine and minimises your chance of injury
  • Increased confidence – good posture can make you appear taller and more attractive to other people. Which also improves confidence and self-esteem

 

What can cause bad posture?

 

Numerous things can cause us to have bad posture including2:

  • Slouching when sitting or standing – this can place strain on your muscles and can also cause some of your muscles to stop working effectively, which could leave you more vulnerable to injury
  • Wearing high heels – this can cause an increased curve in you lower back, putting more stress on this area of your spine
  • Increased weight or pregnancy – excess weight around the stomach and pregnancy can also cause and increased curve in the lower back
  • Leaning on one leg when standing – this causes an imbalance to muscles, mostly around the pelvis, which can place extra stress on the pelvis and lower spine. This can also be caused by carrying a heavy bag on one shoulder, carrying a child on one hip, or even sitting with your phone or wallet in your back pocket
  • Hunching over when at a computer or on your phone – this usually causes tight chest muscles and weak upper back muscles, which can cause pain and stiffness in the neck, shoulders, and upper back

 

How can chiropractic help?

 

Chiropractic is extremely beneficial when it comes to improving posture. The first way chiropractic can help, is through the chiropractic adjustment. By adjusting segments of the spine that aren’t moving properly, chiropractors can return the normal movement and function to the joints of the spine. Bringing  overall balance to the body. This helps with postural imbalances such as having one hip or shoulder higher than the other, or when the natural curve in your neck has started to straighten out.

When the joints of the spine are moving properly, this better enables them to sit in the correct position. Also allowing the muscles around them to activate work properly to support the spine, thus creating better posture3. However, chiropractic adjustments alone aren’t going to give you perfect posture. You will have to put in some work yourself. As chiropractors have so much knowledge on the spine and posture they can provide you with many stretches and exercises that will help to improve your posture. They can also provide lifestyle advice such as how best to set up your seat, computer, and desk at work. Chiropractic care along with the advice given by your chiropractor can have an amazing impact on your posture4.

 

 

 

References:

 

  1. Jonaitis, J. (2018, September 18). 12 benefits of good posture — and how to maintain it. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercise/posture-benefits
  2. (2019, July 10). Common posture mistakes and fixes. https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/common-posture-mistakes-and-fixes/
  3. Physio Works. (2019, March 17). What are the benefits of good posture? https://physioworks.com.au/FAQRetrieve.aspx?ID=31641
  4. American Chiropractic Association. (n.d.). Posture. https://acatoday.org/content/posture-power-how-to-correct-your-body-alignment

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Sitting and Posture Health

Poor sitting posture and effects on spine health

Have a desk job and worried about your sitting posture? You are right to! Over time, poor posture from bad habits during everyday activities can wreck havoc on your spine. For instance, having a desk job, driving, leaning over a cell phone, carrying a bag over same shoulder, prolonged standing, breastfeeding and caring for small children, or even sleeping.

Poor posture can become ingrained, causing and aggravating episodes of back and neck pain and damaging spinal structures. What’s more, damaged spinal structures can have other knock off effects throughout the rest of the body. The good news is, our spine is adjustable and with a few simple changes, good posture and spine health can be achieved.

Here are a couple of steps you can take immediately to improve bad posture:

1. Identify the symptoms of back pain caused by an inefficient work environment and poor posture.

  • Did something change in your environment within the same period the pain commenced? For example, a new job, a new office chair, or a new car, a new desk.
  • Is the back pain is worse at certain times of day, or week? For instance, after a long day of sitting in an office chair in front of a computer.
  • Does the pain start in the neck and move downwards into the upper back, lower back, and extremities?
  • Does the pain ease after switching positions?

Right and wrong sitting posture - office chair

2. Keep the body aligned properly while sitting in an office chair and while standing

  • When standing, distribute body weight evenly across the front, back, and sides of the feet.
  • When sitting, select a chair that’s features support good posture. Sit up straight and align the ears, shoulders, and hips in one vertical line.
  • If you need to change position throughout the day, try shifting forward to the edge of the seat with a straight back and alternate with sitting back against the support arch of the office chair to ease the strain on back muscles.
  • Try a balance / swiss ball. In this position the pelvis is tilted gently forward increasing the lumbar curve which shifts the shoulders back (similar to sitting on the edge of a chair seat).
  • Be aware of and avoid positions such as crossing legs unevenly while sitting, sitting on your legs, leaning to one side, hunching the shoulders up or forward, and tilting the head.
    Correct sitting posture at desk or office chair

3. Get up and move frequently.

This one is so easy to achieve, yet often the most forgotten. As muscles become strained, slouching, slumping, and other bad postures occur; this in turn puts extra pressure on the neck and back.

Change positions frequently, in order to maintain a relaxed yet supported posture. At work,  set an alarm to remind you to get up and take a break from sitting in an office chair every hour for at least two minutes. During this time stretch, stand, or walk.

poor posture sitting - stand and stretch

When to see a Chiropractor for poor posture

Many people visiting our chiropractic clinic in Auckland suffer from back pain or neck pain relating to poor posture. Our approach to treating this is very effective. We start by examining and fixing the physical problems — a process that usually involves chiropractic adjustments to correct any misalignments.

Secondly, we identify the cause of your poor posture. We find any lifestyle factors which are causing the issue. Such as assessing your sitting positions, desk environment and any other relevant triggers. We then show you correct sitting and standing positions and give you tools and exercises to prevent poor posture in the future. By correcting the root cause of postural issues, we can ensure that the musculoskeletal system remains healthy.

Neck and Upper back Pain from poor posture – Leading  Chiropractor Auckland

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Why You Should Care (at least a little bit) About Your Posture

Posture. Good, bad, and the bendy.

Our bodies want to move. However, with our ever-sedentary lifestyle, we have to find a way to cope – proper posture is one of those coping mechanisms.

A lot of people talk about posture these days. Some say it matters a ton; others say it doesn’t matter at all. The truth is somewhere in the middle. It’s beneficial to be mindful of your posture and achieve the best posture you can, but there’s no need to obsess about it and walk around like a robot.

The rule of thumb is that if your current posture isn’t comfortable and your experiencing aches and pains – that’s your body telling you that you should move to a new posture! This is partly why bodily pain and discomfort was kept in our nervous system throughout evolution – to protect structures in your body from being damaged.

The best way to achieve proper posture is through acquiring knowledge and committing to ongoing applications and staying mindful of your posture throughout the day. We can achieve this through a variety of movements and exercises that common, but we may come up with a complete guide if the demand is there – let us know!

Why bother?

Now the benefits of proper posture are spectacular. You breathe better because there’s more room for your ribs to expand as you breathe. You experience less stress because your body language is open. We experience less pain because your body position is better than your body’s structures baseline. There’s even more and more evidence pointing toward more mental health benefits, such as increased confidence and reduced feelings of anxiety and depression. It’s really quite incredible!

Posture and chiropractic care go hand in hand because they both focus on two key aspects – the spine and the nervous system. Optimizing your nervous system through chiropractic care allows your brain to be more aware of where your body is in space – this is called proprioception. When you improve that, your body is more aware of your posture and can; therefore, we can correct it with better posture, and reinforcing it after every adjustment. We’re essentially re-wiring the brain the reinforcing better pathways. Now, if that’s not cool, then I don’t know what is.

If you’re looking to get help with your posture or have any questions about it please get in contact with one of our structural chiropractors and we’ll be happy to help out!

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What’s Tech Neck And How It Affects Your Health

Posture

Tech neck is the term used to describe the neck pain and damage sustained from looking down at your cell phone, tablet, or other wireless devices too frequently and for too long. Children and teens are especially at risk for suffering symptoms of Tech neck. And it seems increasingly common. Recently, a patient came into my practice complaining of severe upper back pain. He woke up and was experiencing severe, acute, upper back muscle strain. I told him I believe the pain is due to the hours he was spending hunched over his cell phone.

Of course, this posture of bending your neck to look down does not occur only when texting. For years, we’ve all looked down to read. The problem with texting is that it adds one more activity that causes us to look down—and people tend to do it for much longer periods. It is especially concerning because young, growing children could possibly cause permanent damage to their cervical spines that could lead to lifelong neck pain and other major health issues such as:

Aches, fatigue, pain
Asthma
Disc compression
Early arthritis
Headaches
TMJ (temporomandibular joint) pain
Altered blood flow
Fibromyalgia
Forward head posture may also contribute to carpal tunnel syndrome.

Forward Head Posture (Tech Neck), Asthma and Heart Disease

One of the most prevalent and destructive imbalances has to do with the cervical curve. The natural curve in the vertebrae of the neck. When we lose the proper curvature of the cervical and lumbar curves, we lose as much as 50 percent of our spinal strength.

For every 2 cm that your head is held forward (rather than balanced properly over the body), it gains 5 kgs of weight. The muscles of your back and neck have to work that much harder to keep your chin off your chest and the muscles of your chin stay in constant contraction, compressing nerves and leading to headaches at the base of the skull or those that mimic sinus headaches.

This “forward head posture,” says University of California’s director of physical medicine and rehabilitation, Rene Cailliet, “can add up to 15 kg of abnormal leverage…” pulling “the entire spine out of alignment” and “may result in the loss of 30% of vital lung capacity.”

The curve of your cervical spine is referred to as “the arc of life” by neurosurgeons because these bones protect the brain stem. And are the thoroughfare for spinal nerves that affect every organ and function in the body.

Subluxation is the term for the compression and irritation of nerves because of misalignments of the spine. When the cervical curve is misaligned, the spinal cord stretches and shrinks in circumference, losing nerve conductivity.

Chiropractors make adjustments to the spine and help teach clients posture and habits that reverse these misalignments. Restoring the body’s natural functions and healing capabilities.

What Causes Forward Head Posture?

Forward head posture causes:
Computer use
TV watching
Video games
Backpacks
Trauma (Trauma leading to forward head posture can come in the form of car accidents, slips or falls, or even birthing trauma from forceps or vacuums.)

Nobel Prize recipient Dr. Roger Sperry says that “90% of the stimulation and nutrition to the brain is generated by the movement of the spine.” Only 10 percent of the brain’s energy goes into thinking, metabolism and healing, while 90 percent of brain energy goes into processing and maintaining the body’s relationship with gravity, Sperry demonstrated.

As forward head posture decreases lung capacity, it can lead to asthma, blood vessel problems and heart disease. The oxygen deficit affects the entire gastrointestinal system and can decrease endorphin production. This turns the perception of non-painful sensation into pain experiences, says Dr. Fishman.

A structural chiropractor can measure the curve of your “arc of life,” give you regular adjustments, lead you in spinal rehabilitation exercises, and teach you postural and working habits that will greatly improve your health and quality of life.

 

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Pull Your Head In: Posture Exercises

Today we’re going to give you some exercises you can do in your gym routine for good posture.

Commands like “stand up straight!” and “don’t slouch” were commonplace for our grandparents. When training to be a seamstress my great grandmother would have to sit as straight as a ruler or else be whipped by it. Such a method may not be approved today, which is probably a good thing however the importance of posture is as important now as ever.

Hyperkyphosis, the technical word for what we might call forward head posture, rounded shoulders or “hunchback”, has actually been shown to be linked with shortened life expectancy in elderly (Kado et al, 2004). If you are not currently elderly and you are reading this then chances are that one day you will be, and guess what, the habits you build around posture now will get harder to break as you get older. This is a good thing thought because if you instil good habits then those too will be harder to break as you age!

Being aware of your posture at work, home, when driving, sitting at the table for dinner and on the couch is important. But so is building the strength and muscles required to hold you in good posture.

Pretty much every activity we do in a day, except doing up your bra for you ladies, is done with our arms in front of us. This means our brains are very connected to the muscles on the front of our upper body, the pecs, biceps and muscles at the front of the shoulder. The muscles on our upper back like the posterior deltoids, rhomboids, lats and traps are often over stretched and under developed, almost forgotten by the brain. The issue is that these back muscles are vital to hold you in good posture.

So what must we do about it?

Don’t make the mistake of working the mirror muscles (biceps and pecs) more than the upper back. Aim to do twice the amount of reps for your upper back compared to the front of your body in a given training week. This means putting more pulling movements versus pushing movements in your routine such as:

  • Pull ups/chin ups
  • Cable rows
  • Cable/lat pull downs
  • Dumbbell rows
  • Barbell rows
  • Face pulls
  • Band pull aparts
  • Reverse flies

You can do these exercises during warm ups for the main lift of the day. You can also do them as extra work after your main lift. If I am going to superset a pulling exercise with a main lift like a bench press or overhead press I will do an easier/lighter variation like lat pull downs or face pulls so as not to use up too much effort that would cause too much fatigue. More intensive pulling exercises like pull ups, barbell and dumbbell rows can be done on their own.  However you choose to put them into your routine make sure you are doing them correctly! The focus should be on initiating the movement with your back by pull the shoulder blades together and don’t let your arms and biceps do most of the work.

Here’s to building a strong healthy posture.

Kado, D. M., Huang, M. H., Karlamangla, A. S., Barrett‐Connor, E., & Greendale, G. A. (2004). Hyperkyphotic posture predicts mortality in older community‐dwelling men and women: a prospective study. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society52(10), 1662-1667.

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Posture & pain | “Some individuals may perceive their losing… | Flickr

Maintaining Good Posture in the Car

The NZ Ministry of Transport released a survey in 2014 stating that people aged between 35-64 in New Zealand spend two-thirds of their total travel time driving. Just looking at the sheer number of cars on the road and the kind of traffic we experience here in Auckland, it doesn’t take a statistician to figure out that we spend a lot of our time in cars. All that time is enough to develop bad habits in posture and movement. Structural abnormalities in the spine tend to increase with prolonged driving, however, there are ways to maintain good posture and stop bad habits from developing.

Avoid “the lean”

Leaning back or to the side in your seat can create an S-shaped curve in your spine that puts uneven loads through your discs. This can contribute to structural problems such as anterior head syndrome and adaptive changes that lead to compensations in the natural curve of your spine.

The muscles adapt by lengthening or shortening and once they’ve been in that position for a prolonged period of time they’ll affect your movement patterns and contribute to structural shifts in the spine. Those structural shifts may not cause issues at first, but when they do it will take just as much time to undo it.

3 ways to find good posture while driving

  1. Sit right
    • Find a seat position where you can sit upright with your bottom touching the back of the seat. Have your hands comfortably on the wheel with mild elbow bend.
  2. Adjust your mirrors
    • Once you’ve found an ideal position adjust your mirrors so that you can use them effectively when in this position. That way you’ll always have a constant reminder to be the proper position to use the mirrors.
  3. Switch your sitting position
    • If you find yourself leaning to one side, try to lean on the other side for about 5-10 minutes. Since the driver’s seat is on the right in NZ, we tend to lean to the left, so you may find it awkward to lean to the right. This is because your brain is not used to your body being in this position. Challenge it and then return to neutral. Constantly switching positions is ideal because it allows certain muscles to have a rest when they’ve been on for prolonged periods of time.

Happy driving!

 

Chiropractor Auckland

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Mobile Phone Posture

As a chiropractor, I look at a fair few x-rays from week to week and a concerning pattern I am seeing is the amount of people, young people, with necks that curve the wrong way. Less mobile, due to mobile use. The cervical curve should somewhat resemble a backward C when viewed from the side, the curve isn’t as much as a C but you get the idea. Many people coming in have a straight or reversed curved yet they don’t have any history of a neck injury.

A big factor that I believe contributes to this, and I am not alone, is the way most of us are using our smartphones and devices. Take a look around the next time you are in public. You will see the majority of people, especially young people, hunch over their phones with no idea of the impact it is having on their bodies.

The normal neck curve is designed to support the weight of the head and protect the spinal cord and nerves. When this curve gets altered it will cause the joints to wear out faster, which can lead to pain and even nerve issues later in life. A few extra kilos of effective weight on the neck is added for every inch forward of the shoulders that the head is.

What can you do about it?

  1. When you are using your mobile always have the screen at eye level. When your arm tires, then take a break!
  2. A more sustainable posture is to hold the device at eye level with one hand. Place your other arm across your belly as if you were folding your arms. Then use the back of your hand to support the elbow of the upright arm.
  3. Be conscious of how you hold your head and neck when working long hours on the laptop. Keep your chin tucked and head and shoulders back.

References:

Hansraj, K, “Assessment of Stresses in the Cervical Spine Caused by Posture and Position of the Head,” Neuro and Spine Surgery, Surgical Technology International XXV

Nejati P, Loftian S, Moezy A and Nejati M (2013), “The relationship of forward head posture and rounded shoulders with neck pain in Iranian office workers,” Medical Journal of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Vol. 28,26. 3 May 2014, http://mjiri.iums.ac.ir

Quek J, Pua Y, Clark R, Bryant A (2012), “Effects of thoracic kyphosis and forward head posture on cervical range of motion in older adults,” Manual Therapy, DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.math.2012.07.005

 

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How Smartphone Time Is Harming Your Children

At Revolution Chiropractic we take a structural correction approach to your spine and one of the big indicators of spinal dysfunction is forward head carriage. The head is basically a bowling ball balanced on the top of your spine and every inch it moves forward causes an exponential increase in how hard the muscle must work to continue to hold it up. The issues go much deeper than neck discomfort, this poor postural position increases the tension on your spinal cord, puts you at greater risk of a strain injury to your neck, speeds up the degenerative process of the spine and can cause nerve root impingement, which let me assure you is not fun at all.

What is really concerning is the number of children we are seeing with this postural issue. Chiropractors are seeing more and more children as patients with issues linked to forward head posture and a HUGE contributing factor is the amount of time they are spending on handheld screen devices. I have personally seen many children with their necks bent to 90 degrees as they stare at a tablet or phone on their lap.

According to the NZ Ministry of Health children age 5-17 should spend less than 2 hours per day sitting and using screens, and this time should not be continuous but rather broken up throughout the day.

 

Cont.

 

On top of smart devices creating postural problems, they are also reducing the amount of physical activity that kids are getting. Which reduces the creativity of tactile play. For the health of your children, we strongly recommend you reduce the amount of time they spend on devices, perhaps reward them with some screen time after some physical activity. It is much easier to raise strong children than it is to fix broken adults! Remember that kids imitate those around them, especially their parents, and let’s face it, we could all benefit from spending less time on our mobile devices.

When you are using your phone or tablet make sure you keep it at eye level for healthy posture. Your arms getting tired from holding them up is a great reminder to take a break!

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How Poor Posture Is Destroying Your Health & 2 Posture Tests To Try At Home

Why is proper posture so important? Is it for the way you look? Sure, people definitely look better when they fix their posture. But regardless of esthetics, your posture is actually key to how your body functions in more ways than one.

Take muscles for example: when you’re sitting with your head forward, your posterior (back) neck muscle are working way too hard to support your head, while your anterior (front) neck muscles switch off. This leads to muscle imbalances and over time may very well develop into neck pain which can be stemming from degeneration, disc disease, muscle strains and so on.

Now your organs: when your body gets used to a slouching position and makes it a long term problem your intestines get compressed and digestion can become difficult. Poor posture also reduces lung capacity by up to 30%. As you can imagine it can compress the heart and reduce the flow of blood to vital organs thereby making them work less efficient and create disease within them.

Not only does posture affect you physically, it can also be detrimental psychologically. Studies have linked poor posture to increased depression, stress and fatigue.

The overall effect can become global and when those issues persist long term they can take away from your quality of life and even longevity.

 

“How do I know if I have a possible posture problem?”

 

Luckily there are 2 tests that you can try at home to see if you have any possible posture problems. All you need is a wall and/or a floor!

 

The Wall Test

 

Stand with the back of your head against the wall with your heels 6 inches away from the wall. Your buttocks and shoulder blades should touch the wall.

If you can slide more than 3 fingers behind your neck or the small of your back then it indicates poor posture.

 

The Floor Angel

 

Lie on the floor with your knees bent and your feet on the ground. Lower your rib cage so it’s in contact with the floor and your arms are out and bent at the elbow by 90 degree like so:

If your hips, rib cage, head or wrists and arms can’t maintain contact with the floor then this may indicate possible postural issues.

Try these out and see what your posture is like! If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to ask your structural chiropractor.

 

Your Trusted Auckland Chiropractor

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Office Worker Toolkit: Tips for those who sit at a desk all day

Here’s one thing you probably already know: the human body was not designed to sit at a desk all day. Our bodies require constant movement, so any job or activity that keeps you in one position for a long time (ie. office work and video games) can have negative effects on your body. The most important thing to remember above all else is to move more and move often. If you’re struggling with movement or there’s something limiting you, then consult with your structural chiropractor on how to approach your challenges and they’ll provide you with individualized and specific exercises that will get you back on track.

There are certain areas of the body that are of primary concern when sitting for long hours:

 

1. Neck

Why? Poor ergonomics and computer set up can lead to your head hanging forward for long periods of time. This even happens when we’re on our phone for too long. This position increases straining in your neck and the muscles around the neck become tight and reactive. This can even lead to tension headaches.

What to do: • Sit tall and think of stacking your neck bones one on top of the other directly above your back. Then tuck your chin and gently push your head back. Hold this position for 5 seconds and repeat 10 times every two hours. • Remember to also move your head often throughout the day by looking left, looking right, and making big circles with your neck (if pain free)

 

2. Shoulders

Why? When typing and reading a computer screen, our shoulder tend to slump forward and stay there for long periods of time. When the positioning of your shoulder girdle is not optimal, it can lead to imbalances in the muscle system, which will lead to your muscles not functioning as well.

What to do: • Sit tall and pinch your shoulder blades together gently. Hold this positioning for 5 seconds and slowly release. Repeat this 10 times every 2 hours. • Make big round circles with our shoulder blades. Focus on the part of the circle where your opening your chest and pulling your shoulders back. Perform 10 circles going forwards and 10 going backwards every 2 hours. • Stretch your chest muscles by putting your elbow and forearm on the side of a doorframe with your elbow at 90 degrees and stepping into it until your feel a stretch in your pecs. You can feel it more by breathing into the sides and front of your rib cage. Hold for 30 seconds on each side every 2 hours.

 

3. Low back

Why? Being at the desk for such long periods of time, we tend to get lazy and slouch or round through our low back. This can put a lot of stress on the joints and discs in the low back area, which can potentially lead ot disc injuries, muscle strains, joint stiffness and weakening of your core muscles which can make you more susceptible to further injury and pain.

What to do: • Sit directly on top of your sit bones and try to keep the weight even on both sit bones. This will create a small arch in your low back which is its optimal position. • Be sure to stand up and walk around every hour or so to take the pressure off your low back. • Try some gentle yoga when you’re not at work. • Perform the cat-camel pose which helps bring movement throughout the entire spine. Click here to link to one of our YouTube videos on how to do it.

 

4. Hips

Why? When sitting on our bottoms all day, it means that we’re squishing our buttock muscles which can lead to weakness in this important muscle group. The sitting position also leads to tight hip flexors since our hips are stuck in a 90 degree angle for so long. Imbalances in the hip can lead to injuries affecting all parts of the body, especially the low back and knees.

What to do: • Stand and walk throughout the day. • Stagger your legs, similar to a lunge position and transfer your weight forward. This will give you a nice stretch in the hip flexor muscle. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on both sides every 2 hours. • Perform the glute bridge outside of work. Click here to link to one of our YouTube videos on how to do it. Remember that every BODY is different. If these general exercise suggestions aren’t working for you, then be sure to visit your structural chiropractor to get individualized recommendations to get your back on track.

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Contact Revolution Chiropractic – Leading  Chiropractor Auckland

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