Relieving Neck And Back Pain In Daily Life In Appleton WI

Relieving Neck And Back Pain In Daily Life in Appleton WI

Relieving Neck And Back Pain In Daily Life In Appleton WI

I am a big believer in the idea that how we move in our daily lives can be more important for true recovery and rehabilitation from aches and injuries than what we do in a 30-60 minute workout. We can do as much stretching and strengthening as we want, but if we don't correct the dysfunctional ways we sit, stand, and/or move, the trouble area(s) will continue to emerge, or a different one (seemingly unrelated, but not) will surface.

Does this mean we should stop doing our exercises and just perfect our posture and learn to move "perfectly"? Not at all. It's not an either/or; it's a both/and. We need both posture awareness and strengthening in Appleton WI. We need both productive movement patterns and good mobility techniques. The human body is far too complex to just be one or the other!

So, hopefully, you feel good about the exercises you and I are working on. These will help: correct muscle imbalances, decrease tightness, increase strength, and help ensure that the postural corrections "stick" because the muscles are primed and ready to handle that new way of sitting, standing, and/or moving.

The exercises are very important! Especially taking the time to know exactly where you should be feeling it, how you should be positioned, and what you should be focusing on. Why do them at all if they aren't going to actually help?? No one's got time for that!

But - this isn't about why exercises matter. This is about the other 23 to 23.5 hours of daily life that you do. This is about how you sleep, sit, stand, walk, bend, carry things, and breathe… not overwhelming at all, right? It definitely doesn't have to be.

Here are a few fundamental pieces of body mechanics and posture that I hope you begin to become aware of. Perfect posture is not the goal - there truly is no such thing. The goal is that you:

  1. Become a bit more educated on your own body,
  2. Better understand what factors might be contributing to pain and tightness that you have control over
  3. Learn some strategies for making small changes that can have a big payoff.

Buckle up!

Posture Breakdown in Appleton WI: What Should We Be Looking For?

  1. Ears, shoulders, hips, knees, and feet should all be in a vertical line. If you take a picture of yourself from the side, draw a vertical line from the middle of your foot upwards. Does the line pass through all of those areas?
  2. Ribs should be stacked over your pelvis. Do the bottom of your ribs stick out as if they are pointing to the ground ahead of you? Or do they point down toward your hip bones? Your ribs should not protrude out the front of your belly.
  3. Hip bones and pubic bones should be at the same level. Place your thumbs on your hip bones and your index fingers on the base of your pubic bone and look down. Can you see both sets of fingers or only your thumbs? Can you make it so your pubic bone is higher than your hip bones?
  4. Your spinal curves should be gentle and symmetrical. Look at yourself sitting and standing from the side. Do you have a large curve in one area of your back? Does it look like there is a flat spot? Can you round and straighten all parts of your spine without pain?

As you can see in the left photo, the head is forward, the shoulders are rounded, the core and ribs are scrunched so the bottom is tucked under, pulling my pelvis into a tilt and squashing my low back.

In the right photo, my ears are in line with my shoulders, my shoulders are back, and my pelvis is neutral and relaxed. My ribs are stacked over my pelvis so my core is not scrunched, but upright and ready for good, productive breaths.

Chiropractic Appleton WI Callie Huft Posture Before And After

Doing self-checks like these several times during the day can be a great way to build awareness of what your usual posture is. As I said, there's no perfect posture - but - there are definitely aspects of posture that we know to be helpful and others to be harmful. So, start there. Build awareness by getting curious about what your body does without judgment. Then we can start to move into some strategies to help correct some of those not-so-helpful movement patterns that may be keeping you from finding true relief and recovery.

Advice For The Office And Computer Workers

I know you know the basics: get a standing desk, put your computer at eye level, be sure to have a lumbar-supportive chair or use an exercise ball, and keep your elbows at 90 degrees tucked by your sides… yes, this stuff matters. And it will forever be good advice. (If you haven't already heard about all of that - consider making those changes!)

But what do we do when those things aren't helping take away the pain? For starters, it comes down to knowing how you sit or stand despite those things (through the postural self-check just described) and finding out what helps you correct them in small ways, frequently, and with intention throughout the day. Just because you have a standing desk doesn't mean that you aren't standing with your head forward, shoulders rounded, and low back swayed a mile. Awareness, friend.

Chiropractic Appleton WI Callie Huft Chair Posture

1. Proper alignment and posture with head, shoulders, and hips in line. 90-degree angles at ankles, knees, and hips to distribute load and ensure good muscle rest position.

2. Forward head posture, rounded shoulders, and tucked bottom add a lot of stress and strain to the neck and low back.

3. Slouched posture with forward head and shoulders - adding tension to the neck and squashing of low back creating added pressure and strain on SI joint and low back structures.

Secondly, we need to move. Often. And purposefully. The body wants and needs to move. Back in our most primitive days, the body was constantly in motion - hunting and searching and gathering and walking and climbing and squatting and carrying. Do you think the cavemen had text necks? Absolutely not! Unfortunately, this concept of constant motion is just not the norm - it seems weird to move all day while working at a desk and our work just isn't made for it. But I will argue that the most critical thing most Americans who work at desk jobs need is consistent, purposeful movement.

So what are the steps to the consistent, purposeful movement for the desk worker? Here are the points I think are most critical to employ consistently - so often that your coworkers get to the point where they're so used to you doing it that they don't even notice and they realize you feel so great that they start doing it along with you.

Chiropractic Appleton WI Callie Huft Floor Posture Exercise

Master diaphragmatic breathing and learn what imbalances you may have so you can focus on them while you perform 10 deep breaths an hour.

This is where I help you learn how to breathe well and assess what imbalances or weak spots you may need to focus on.

Change postural positions every 30 minutes. Create your workstation so you can spend time sitting on the floor, kneeling, sitting on a chair, standing with both feet on the floor, standing with one foot propped up, and even laying on your stomach.

Chiropractic Appleton WI Callie Huft Changing Seating Positions
Chiropractic Appleton WI Callie Huft Changing Postural Positions

Tip: Place a mirror next to your workstation so you can do frequent postural self-checks.

Learn basic yoga poses that will alleviate your tight areas. I can help you learn which ones will be most effective so you can seamlessly add them to your workday as you're on a call, taking a small break, or attending a virtual meeting.

Chiropractic Appleton WI Callie Huft Sphinx Pose

Sphinx Pose:
Promotes extension through your hips, belly, chest, and ribs. Relieves neck, shoulder, and low back pain

For instructions, VISIT HERE.

Chiropractic Appleton WI Callie Huft Sphinx Pose With Lift

Sphinx Pose With Lift:
Provides the same benefits as sphinx pose but becomes a strengthening exercise for the upper, mid, and low back, as well as the muscles around the shoulder blades.

After a deep inhale into your back, sides, and belly, exhale and gently pull your pubic bone back toward your spine to activate your lower abs to stabilize your pelvis. Mid-exhale, lift your arms off of the floor using your middle back muscles. Hold for 3 breaths. If you feel your low back doing all of the work, try squeezing something between your knees and pulling your pubic bone back toward your spine further.

Chiropractic Appleton WI Callie Huft Eagle Pose

Eagle Pose:
Promotes stretching to shoulders, back, and neck. Add some rotation of your trunk from side to side for a more dynamic and global stretch.

For instructions (and to complete in standing if desired), VISIT HERE.

Chiropractic Appleton WI Callie Huft Cat Cow Pose

Cat/Cow Pose:
Promotes stretching, stability, and tension relief for the entire spine. Can strengthen core if coordinated with breathing. Promotes fluid mobility throughout the entire spine and internally massages spine and belly organs.

Instructions for cat HERE and instructions for cow HERE.

Master the Art of Fidgeting
Become someone who does calf raises when you're answering an email, rocks your hips back and forth when you're on a call, rolls your shoulders when you're watching a training, does butt squeezes when you're on Zoom, and marches in place when you're working on a project. Not only will this help keep muscles from getting tight, it'll increase blood flow which can help with energy and creativity.

Do the Exercises Your Therapist Prescribes To You As Often As They Recommend You Do It
I probably don't have to say more, but I will. Doing exercises for an hour with me will get you nowhere. Truly. Doing your home program two times for half the reps I prescribe will get you nowhere. I'm only 10-15% of this puzzle… you're the other 85-90%, so show up, hold yourself accountable, and do the work (or stop complaining about being in pain). This is me giving you tough love, but only because I truly care and want you to feel good and be unafraid to move!

Movement and Posture In The Rest of Daily Life

Here are a few of my favorite tips for how to go from surviving to thriving outside of work and therapy:

  • Sit on the floor to watch TV or spend time on your phone. Most of us sit on the couch or our favorite chair. But I find that if I intentionally sit on the floor and have my mobility tools (foam roller, trigger point balls, therapy gun/massager) available, I will naturally reach for them and do some mobility work or stretches. Then I'll go sit on the couch and relax once I feel better.
  • Increase self-awareness about posture when cooking, washing dishes, doing your hair or makeup, or folding laundry. Go through the quick self-check and gently correct what you can.
  • Alternate standing on one leg when you're doing a lot of standing (see the prior point). This frequent position change can keep muscles from tightening up.
  • Take advantage of every opportunity to get some extension and rotation into your life. So many of us spend our days in flexion - meaning, our neck flexes forward, our shoulders round forward, and our hips and knees are flexed and bent. We need to lengthen, extend upward, to move in opposite directions. When you're standing at the kitchen counter waiting for water to boil, get into the extension. When you're brushing your teeth, work on some shoulder extension and rotation. When you're playing with your kids, get on the floor on your belly and get some extension throughout the front of your body.
Chiropractic Appleton WI Callie Huft Arm Stretch
Chiropractic Appleton WI Callie Huft Back Stretch
Chiropractic Appleton WI Callie Huft Side Stretch
Chiropractic Appleton WI Callie Huft Shoulder Stretch

Because we are not cavemen and cavewomen, we need our bodies to accommodate our current times, yes, but we also need to learn how to marry our daily practices with our bodies with an appreciation for how they were made to move.

Please don't hesitate to ask if you need guidance on what movements or exercises to incorporate throughout your workday or how to set up your workstation to best accommodate your unique and individual needs. I am your #1 cheerleader in this lifestyle shift and am available for any questions or concerns you have. And I appreciate you reading this through to the end - as you probably know, I tend to over-explain, so thank you for your time and attention! I just think this stuff really matters! 🙂

With your greatest health in mind,

Calli Huft
Occupational Therapist
The Chiropractic Advantage