It’s a stressful time of year. In addition to performing the duties associated with all of your other responsibilities, you have added responsibilities that the holidays require. Where are we celebrating? Who will be there? What do I have to do/bring? Is my shopping done? Do I have enough money for that gift for Mom? Will the children be happy? The holidays can really pack on the stress, which can result in headaches and stomach disorders, to name just a couple of things that can reduce your enjoyment of the season!
How do you deal with that kind of stress? Well… you should put some of the focus on yourself and do something you really enjoy this time of year. Take a nice latte break while shopping. Get a massage. Buy a holiday gift that is just to you, from you! Have a manicure, a pedicure, a facial – or even all three!
Throw a cookie exchange party to cut down on baking! Have dinner with an old friend who is coming into town to visit family.
In terms of cooking – buy some prepared foods or hire someone to help with food preparation. Ask everyone to bring a dish. Or, cut back on food preparation entirely, there’s always too much anyway and who needs all those extra calories anyway? Get the children to pitch in to help – they love to make cookies!
Other obligations? Forget the holiday cards this year. Enlist help from your family with the decorating. Have a grab bag instead of buying for every family member.
The idea here is to take care of yourself and part of doing that is making sure you take care of your health naturally by keeping up with your chiropractic adjustments, eating nutritious foods, and getting plenty of water and rest!
Do something different this year – do something for YOU!
It seems ironic that this blog is being written on a laptop! But with technology being such a huge part of our everyday lives, we thought it was an important topic to explore.
Adults spend an average of eight hours and 41 minutes per day using media devices. This is really put into context when we compare this to the eight hours and 21 minutes we spend sleeping… can we really be spending twenty minutes more per day using technology than sleeping?
Television, smart phone, radio, tablet, laptop, game devices, smart watch… the technology really adds up! These hours spent texting, chatting, typing, gaming and watching are having an impact on our health in many ways. The World Health Organization (WHO) has just recognized ‘Gaming Disorder’, where individuals become addicted to computer games, as a new disease. This is really scary stuff!
Spending so much time sitting down in front of screens is contributing to the rise in obesity and the chance of developing type two diabetes. It also means that we are adopting unnatural postures which can lead to stiffness and pain. From slouching on the sofa when watching the television to the “chin on your chest” position we use when on our phones, we could be unknowingly worsening our health.
What is Tech Neck?
‘Tech Neck’ is a condition where individuals suffer neck / upper back pain due to the postural changes associated with increased use of electronic devices; most commonly iPhones, iPads and laptops.
The postures adopted while using these gadgets, especially for a prolonged period of time, causes an increase in the amount of tension placed upon the spine.
By spending too much time looking down towards our devices we are actually reducing the inwards curvature of the neck. Why is this important, you may ask? The inwards ‘lordotic’ curve of the neck allows it to act as a shock absorber, equally spreading pressure through the spine rather than all on one area. By reducing or even reversing this curvature, stresses build up on tissues which cannot cope, leading to injury and pain.
How does using electronic devices lead to neck pain?
Poor posture leads to unequal distribution of load on the spine and over time will lead to joint pain and muscular tension. When you next pick up your phone to send a text message or go to browse Facebook look to see how you are sitting. You will find that:
1) You will tuck your chin towards your chest.
2) Your head will move forward.
3) Your shoulders will start to round.
Adopting this posture causes the supportive muscles of the neck to fatigue and weaken. The muscles can no longer effectively support the joints, spinal discs and nerves in the neck and the chance of suffering an injury significantly increases.
When we are looking forward and the head is kept in the ideal, neutral position, the weight of the average head is 4.5-5Kg. This increased forward leaning position causes tightness of the muscles through the chest and front of the neck while causing weakness in the muscles under the chin and in between the shoulder blades. This causes our posture to progressively worsen. Poorer posture = weaker stabilization muscles = further postural deterioration. A very vicious cycle!
Recognize the symptoms
‘Tech neck’ can result in an ache in your neck spreading downwards towards the shoulder blades, tightness in the base of the skull and even pins and needles or numbness into the arms. Certain types of headache can also start to develop.
Depending on which device you use and when, you may notice a pattern of when your symptoms worsen. For instance, if you have an office job spending lots of time on a computer, your pain may worsen over the week but ease at the weekend when you are more active.
Conversely, you may find that during the weekend you have more spare time to play computer games or browse the internet on your phone so may suffer more during your time off.
What can I do?
Alter your environment
Making small changes such as a supportive work chair, sitting upright in an armchair rather than lying on the sofa, or introducing a new habit of stretching and walking around during add breaks could make all the difference. Aiming to keep the device that you are using at eye level is also a great place to start.
Change your attitude towards technology
We know that it is unrealistic to ask people to do a technology-detox; our devices are so engrained in to our daily living. But perhaps we can change the way we think about our technology use. Consider how we view sugary desserts; an indulgent treat which can be enjoyed as part of a varied diet and alongside exercise. Can we think of technology in the same way… as something to be enjoyed in moderation alongside an active lifestyle?
Make technology work for you
Another idea is to use the fantastic tools offered by technology to improve your health, rather than damage it. Your smart phone likely has a pedometer built in to count the steps you do each day, or can easily be paired with a watch with similar functions. Audio books, which can be downloaded cheaply and simply, are an excellent way to get your technology hit whilst on the go – learn a new language, listen to an autobiography or get hooked by the latest crime-thriller while finding the Thomas Keller in yourself as you cook up a culinary masterpiece!
Get help sooner rather than later
When an issue arises from poor posture, the muscles around an aggravated joint will tighten to protect the area. Over time, this tightness can pull a spinal joint further out of alignment and worsen the problem. Chiropractic adjustments will realign the joints of the spine and allow the muscles to relax and return to a normal tone. Seeing your chiropractor earlier will reduce the number of treatments you will need and mean a faster recovery! Your chiropractor will also be able to help you improve any postural imbalances via rehabilitative exercises to reduce the chance of the issue reoccurring in the future.
Shoulder pain is incredibly common and too often left untreated, resulting in chronic pain and further tissue damage. The problem is, most people don’t know how to read their body in order to understand the cause of their symptoms. Massage therapy is great for relieving muscle tension. If massages are not working to ease shoulder pain however, chances are the problem lies deeper than the muscle.
Diagnosing shoulder pain based purely on symptoms is difficult to do, as the shoulder is a very complex area of the body. Another way of detecting an imbalance in your shoulder joints is simply looking in the mirror. If you regularly favor one arm over the other, for instance by using a computer mouse all day, you may notice that one shoulder is slightly pushed forward or misaligned.
A misaligned shoulder can cause further stress through physical activity and exercise. If you are performing exercises with uneven shoulders, you will be over-stressing one shoulder more than the other. In addition, you will be using the wrong muscles to complete the movements. Retraining muscles, physio and stretching will have little impact to rectify an imbalance if the nerve signals from the brain are not communicating effectively to the muscle group.
How do chiropractors treat shoulder pains?
If your shoulder pain is constant or recurring even after a massage, there is a strong possibility that the nerves controlling the shoulder muscles aren’t communicating properly with the brain due to a spinal subluxation (a misalignment of the vertebrae). Chiropractic focuses on releasing tension in the spinal nerves, allowing them to communicate naturally again with the rest of the body.
Often the area you are experiencing pain or imbalance is caused by a subluxation in a different part of the spine. Because of this, a Chiropractor will look at your spine as a whole, not just the area in which you have symptoms. They will examine your full range of movement in order to understand how every part of your body is working or not working together.
To treat shoulder pain, a Chiropractor will examine and adjust your spine to make sure that the nerves connected to your shoulder are functioning properly. They can also adjust the various joints that make up your shoulder complex. Although these adjustments may seem small, the effects of them can go a long way in restoring a normal range of motion to the muscles in your shoulder.
Aside from performing adjustments, a Chiropractor will also advise you on ways to maintain your overall spinal health. This advice may include suggested sleeping positions, posture while working and correct lifting procedures that will avoid putting strain on your shoulders.
Don’t put up with shoulder pain any longer. Contact us today, to begin your journey towards better health for tomorrow.