SPEND MORE than 6 hours in front of the laptop?
SIT MORE than 90 minutes without getting up from the chair?
EXPERIENCE intermittent aches and pains in the neck and upper back?
STAND UP up at 5 P.M. and feel like your back resembles a question mark?
“IF the answer for the above questions is YES, then you may be at a risk of developing a forward curvature of the upper back/ thoracic spine which is called Thoracic Kyphosis commonly called as “Corporate Huncback” says Dr. Nitin Mane, Senior Physiotherapist, Atmantan Wellness Centre.
Dr. Mane explains that “slouching all day in an office chair forces your chest muscles to tighten, which pulls your spine forward and rotates your shoulders inward, and at the same time weakening the muscles of your upper back that aid in posture.” In other words, you start looking like a hunchback and may experience pain in your neck, lower back, and even arms and legs.
Having good movement or mobility keeps the muscles ligaments and surrounding tissues flexible and they get a good blood supply and nutrients which keeps the joints and muscles healthy. When you sit for long hours at the desk without moving, it impedes the blood circulation further hampering the nutrition and the oxygen supply to the muscles leading to fatigue, aches, cramps, numbness, pain and sometimes tingling as well .Over a period of time, this makes our bones weak and results in structural changes to set in our spine which finally develops the HUNCHBACK.“The hunchback of more than 70 degree needs surgical management whereas others can benefit from posture correction and exercises” says Dr Nitin Mane, Senior Physiotherapist, Atmantan Wellness Centre.
The changes which occur in the hunchback are :forward position of head ,ear falling ahead of shoulders, crunching of the anterior chest wall and increase in the Thoracic Kyphosis .A hunchback can occur due to several reasons such as sitting for long hours at desktop without taking breaks, sitting in a hunched posture, peeping to forward towards the screen while working, improper distance from the computer, improper contrast of the screen ,improper height of the chair ,working in chill temperature and lack of strength in back and core muscles.
Besides the risk of developing a hunchback, long hours of sitting and inactivity are also associated with cardiovascular diseases. Refer to the illustration below.
At Atmantan, our Expert team of Physiotherapist have precise knowledge about the human anatomy, biomechanics and ergonomics. They conduct a detailed postural assessment and then prescribe an exercise schedule and share other information which includes making changes in lifestyle and workstation ergonomics. One of the primary diagnosis that is done for guests on retreats is the Posture Score using the Posture Pro grid. This is a scientific way of correcting a poor posture. The Ideal posture is when the ear, the shoulder, the hip, the knee and the ankle all fall within the same vertical plane. This is a Posture Number of zero. Average posture is around 18 and poor posture is over 30.
Dr. Mane explains that “Our goal, as always, is to relieve the patient of their symptoms but more importantly, to correct the problem that’s causing the symptoms. Once the pain has been relieved, monitoring the improvement in the Posture Number allows us to make sure the problem does not return.
Atmantan offers a customised program called Restorative Physiotherapy. The team here is specialised in treating a wide gamut of orthopaedic related conditions, may it be osteo-arthritis, ligament injuries, sports injuries, post-surgical rehabilitation, joint instabilities, restoration of muscle and joint functions, chronic musculoskeletal conditions or even certain neurological conditions.
Millennials are influencing office designs too!! Holistic wellness is a strong priority for millennials and thats why ‘WELL-BEING’ is going to be more visible while designing workplaces. Like LEED, we now have WELL standard that are advancing health and well-being in buildings. The new buildings design workplaces that are referred to as Active workplace which encourage movement.
Some tips on encouraging movement that have worked are:
1) Making stairs more attractive for use.
2) Make paths both within and outside the building to promote walking.
3) Use standing desk as an alternative
To manage these postural issues there are 5 critical components to follow which will prevent hunchback as well as improve the hunchback posture.
1. Improve Thoracic mobility.
2. Increase the strength of upper back muscles.
3. Following proper Workstation Ergonomics.
4. Taking regular breaks.
5. Doing recreational activities and regular exercises.
Having good mobility or movement in your upper back reduces the stress on the joints while sitting. One of the best way to do this is with the foam rolling exercises in which you lie down with the foam roll between your shoulder blades and roll up and down. This increases the mobility as well as releases tension and spasm in the muscles.
In order for an upright posture to be natural, strength is important. Increasing the strength of erector spinae, rhomboids, serratus anterior, latissimus dorsi and the neck extensor muscles helps to maintain the upright posture of your upper back. The best exercises to improve the scapular strength is with the BLACKBURN EXERCISES.
Ergonomic means rules to follow when you are working at the desktop which can earn maximum productivity with minimum energy expenditure. Following ergonomics is very important in corporate life as it reduces the employee absenteeism due to health reasons, reduces physical stress and in turn increases the company’s production. Atmantan conducts ergonomic workshops titled (Straight Talk on Posture) for their corporate clients.
This helps to improve the circulation in the joints and maintain a good supply of oxygen to the muscles and prevent muscle cramps, muscle shortening and pains. It also offloads the spine from compressive forces which are acting when you sit for long hours and prevent back pain.
It helps combatting physical and mental stress which subconsciously improves our posture at work. Doing regular resistance training and cardio exercises and core strengthening helps to builds muscle strength which helps you to sit straight for longer time at work preventing poor posture.
Picture Credits: http://www.mguhlin.org/2013/05/leadership–challenge–redefine–your.html , https://www.epainassist.com/back–pain/upper–back–pain/hunchback, http://www.mindandbodychiro.com.au/free–posture–assessment/, http://www.cirquephysio.com/blog/thoracic–mobility–your–circusshoulders–knight–in–shining–armor, http://www.mygcphysio.com.au/services/articles–useful–info/thoracic–spine–upper–back–mobility–why–its–so–important–to–everyone/, https://www.gearandgrit.com/blackburns–the–best–exercises–named–after–famous–lifters/, https://www.pinterest.com/pin/48976714673145654/, https://www.thebalance.com/breaks–and–lunch–requirements–1918071, http://teambuildersplus.com/team–building/large–group,