I had the opportunity to interview Dr. Peter Hinz, a doctor at Cool Springs Family Chiropractic, based out of Franklin, Tennessee. He gave us some professional insight on ways to optimize every day health.
We covered several topics, including tips for working at a computer, bad office habits, and how to be ergonomically sound (among other things). During our chat, I noticed one reoccurring theme... Posture.
Understanding your body's posture is critical. It's significant not only from a chiropractor's point of view, but to virtually alleviate your self from pain.
Dr. Hinz helped in pointing out twenty ways to improve your overall posture:
1. Just Do It
"There's no magic pill or potion when trying to integrate better posture throughout the day. You just have to do it." Dr. Hinz confirms putting more focus on your posture can take some time to learn, but it's definitely an achievable goal.
2. The Importance Of Posture
Focusing more on your posture can positively affect other areas of your body. For example, "90% of people who complain about neck and shoulder pain are unaware of their forward head posture," said Hinz. If you're experiencing these types of pains, tweaking your head posture is a great place to start.
3. Create A Strong Foundation
One of the first things to consider when constructing a new building is whether or not it has a strong foundation. Apply the same state-of-mind to your body. Be sure you've equipped yourself with sufficient foot and back support.
4. Know The Statistics
It's common for people to be unaware of how much time they spend at the office. Know the statistics so you'll be able to evaluate your situation and break your bad habits. Think about it... if you work 6-8 hours a day, 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year, that's over 1,500 hours in a potentially bad position.
5. Shatter The Office Standard
Unlike one-size fits all products; office future shouldn't work that way. "No one is the correct standard or norm," said Dr. Hinz. "We all have different arm and thorax lengths as well as body postures." Have the courage to approach whoever it is to find the right furniture to accommodate you.
6. Transform Your Environment
Focus on changing your environment to fit you rather than you changing to fit the environment. Dr. Hinz suggests, "We should be static and our environment should be dynamic." In other words, make the necessary changes to your workspace if it's not ergonomically designed. Items like a computer monitor, keyboard, chair, and mouse all fall into this category.
7. Get Your Computer Monitor Eye-Level
Making your computer monitor eye-level is a simple fix that can be extremely helpful in preventing neck and shoulder pain. Make sure you're never looking down while at a computer. Prop it up on a pile of books or invest in a monitor support system. Wherever your eyes go, your head will follow.
8. Check Your Desk Height
As stated above, we all come in different shapes and sizes. Your desk should be altered or custom built. Here's a quick tip for measuring the height of your desk -- Find the position you'll be in while using your desk (sitting or standing), place your arms by your sides and create a right angle with your arms. Your hands should be able to rest on your desktop if the desk is at the right height. If not, adjust accordingly.
9. Discover The Right Chair
Don't settle for the standard office chair. It can be harmful to your lower back over time. There are plenty of options out there. Find something you're interested in, research it, and give it try.
10. Place Your Arms At A 90-Degree Angle
Keyboard ergonomics is something that's not discussed enough within the office scene. When typing, keep your arms at a 90-degree angle. This is a great preventative measure for neck and shoulder pain.
11. Integrate Short Breaks
"The biggest thing people need to understand is that they need to take a break when possible," said Hinz. A short break can be defined as going to the bathroom, getting a drink of water, or taking laps around the parking lot. It's refreshing and healthy for both your mind and body.
12. Learn The 20/10 Rule
Dr. Hinz stated, "The average attention span is about 20 minutes. I'm a big advocate of the 20 on/10 off rule." Basically, give something your full attention for 20 minutes and then take a 10 minute break. The goal is to take incremental breaks throughout the day.
13. Utilize Post It Notes
One additional tip from Dr. Hinz was to write, "look around" on a post it note. Then place it in a strategic place somewhere in your office to remind you to take a break. Since post it note colors are generally eye catching, it will help you to notice them and take action.
14. Download Reminder Apps
Not a post it note user? No problem. Chances are you have some type of smart phone. 'StandApp' promotes healthy living by providing an alarm reminder to stand up and take a break from your desk. Also, it includes 15 easy exercises any can perform at their desk during their standing breaks. Oh... Did I mention it's FREE?
15. No Zoning Out
It's easy to zone out at work. Don't do it. People tend to get hyper focused and stay in a particular position for hours on end without moving around. This is very stressful on the spine and body.
16. Movement Is Key
Between standing up and sitting down, standing up is better for your posture. It's much easier to slouch while sitting down. Here are some quick tips to combat slouching: Stand up when you're talking on the phone, while chatting with your coworkers, and at meetings.
17. Pinpoint Your Center Of Gravity
Make sure your center of gravity is on point. Stand and/or sit up straight and keep your feet shoulder length apart. Most importantly, don't lean forward. Dr. Hinz mentioned, "For every 2.5 centimeters your head falls forward, you increase your head weight by 10 pounds." That extra 10 pounds can quickly cause your neck to strain and cause unnecessary pain.
18. Be Careful Of Extended Sitting And Standing
Recently, you may or may not have heard about extending sitting in the news. In short, it's bad for your body and posture. Extended sitting has been linked to cancer, kidney disease, and diabetes. However, extended standing can be harmful to the body and posture as well. Which leads into my next point...
19. Uncover Perfect Balance
Find the perfect balance of sitting and standing. Personally, I've found using a height-adjustable desk has allowed me to do this. I'm not stagnant in any position during my day. This ability to move has encouraged me to walk around more too. Sometimes instead of sending an email, I'll walk over to that particular person.
20. Stand Up At Home
After a busy week at work, it feels good to go home and relax. There's nothing wrong with this; however, be mindful of your posture. Try using a throw pillow behind your lower back while watching TV or get up and walk around during commercial breaks.
- Visit the Hinz Family Chiropractic website.
- Follow Hinz Family Chiropractic on Twitter.
- Like Cool Springs Chiropractic on Facebook.
- Connect with Dr. Peter Hinz on LinkedIn.
(Image by Flixya)