Ways To Improve Your Posture

ways-toA majority of Americans have poor posture It’s especially prevalent among people who spend several hours a day sitting, which is increasingly common in the modern workplace.

Most people know that poor posture can cause or contribute to pain, and be a major contributor to chronic migraines. What is less commonly known, however, is the fact that it can also cause a whole host of other medical issues, including an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and depression.

There’s good news, though. Poor posture can be easily corrected, but the first step in doing so simple awareness. If you’re not mindful of how you’re sitting for hours at a stretch, you’re poorly positioned to do anything about it.

This is actually harder to do than it seems, because after all, you’ve spent a big chunk of your life sitting. Like tying your shoes, it’s one of those things you assume you’re already an expert at, and because of that, you don’t really think about it.

Start thinking about it. Pay attention to how you’re sitting, and make a conscious effort to set up straight, with your head level.

Another big contributing factor to poor posture, especially in the workplace, is the fact that your chair and the computer monitor you stare at may be too low or too high, which sees you sitting in a poor position as you work.

If your neck feels fatigued at the end of a workday, or you suffer from chronic headaches, both of these are signs that you need to make adjustments to the equipment you’re using. It’s amazing how effective those simple changes can be.

Finally, if you want to take it to the next level, consider doing some simple exercises. Positions that are especially good for improving posture are the “upward facing dog” yoga position and the standing forward bend. Both are easy to do from the comfort of home, and both can make a big difference if you commit to doing them every day for five minutes or so.

Dynamic Stretching Vs. Static Stretching: What’s The Difference?

dynamicIt’s a common enough question, asked by people who are interested in improving their health and flexibility. Both types of stretching are important, but of equal importance is knowing when to use them. This short piece will outline the best uses for both types of stretching.

Static stretching is done from a standing or sitting position. When you see people bending to stretch their hamstrings and holding the position for thirty seconds or so, they’re engaging in static stretching.

Unfortunately, most people use this before a workout, which is not the optimal time to use this form of stretching. Studies have shown that pre-workout static stretching will actually reduce your workout performance for about ten minutes after the stretching routine is completed.

Dynamic stretching, on the other hand, is ideal to use before a workout. The key differences are twofold:

First, dynamic stretching is so-named because it involves some element of motion. Second, whereas static stretches require holding positions for extended periods, dynamic stretches tend to be done in short-duration series.

There’s a catch, though. In order to get the full benefit, you need to tailor your dynamic stretch to the type of exercise you plan on doing. For example, if you’re planning to go for a run, you’ll want to warm up by doing a short jog to loosen the muscles you’ll be using the most and getting them prepped for the trial ahead.

The best time to employ static stretching is after your workout is complete. The reason is that if your workout is a strenuous one, your muscles are likely to be sore. Doing a few static stretches of those muscle groups will help ease any post-exercise pain you might otherwise feel. That’s not to say your muscles won’t still hurt (if you’re doing it right, they probably will!) The pain just won’t be as severe or as long lasting.

And now you know – you’re a stretching pro!

Avoid Pain While You Travel With These Tips

avoid-painIf you’ve ever spent time traveling by bus, train or plane, you know the dilemma. Sure, those modes of transportation get you where you need to be, but they can be a real pain, both literally and figuratively.

First, of course, there’s the issue of luggage. Hauling it around and moving it from one place to another can put major strain on your back, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Seating on trains and buses is bad, but the all-time worst seats are airplane seats. Too small for most people, and monstrously uncomfortable, a long plane trip can make your back feel tortured and abused.

Fortunately, there are a few simple things you can do to reduce your risk of pain while traveling and minimize your discomfort.

The first thing involves your luggage. Most people grossly overpack. Don’t make that mistake, and you won’t find yourself having to lug a half ton of bags around during your travels.

Second, the way to cure those uncomfortable seats is to bring a small travel pillow, so you can place it at the small of your back and provide some badly needed lumbar support. Even better, bring two, so you can have a second one for neck support.

Those two things alone will provide a powerful one-two punch that will greatly reduce any travel-related pain you might feel, but a third step you can take is to be sure to take an hourly stretch break. This applies regardless of how you’re traveling. Just get up for a few minutes every hour and stretch those leg and back muscles to keep them from cramping up on you.

While it’s true that there’s no magic formula that can completely eliminate travel-related pain, these three simple steps can go a long way for minimizing it.

Is My Pain From A Herniated Disc?

is-myA herniated disc is one of the many potential causes of back pain, so the short answer to the question posed by the title of this article is yes. It is possible, and perhaps even likely, that it is the root cause of your back pain.

Before we talk about possible treatment options, it’s important to understand exactly what a herniated disc is.

The discs in your spine are made up of two primary components. An outer layer, called the annulus fibrosus, and an inner layer, which is of a spongey consistency, called the nucleus pulposus.

If the outer layer becomes damaged due to a fall or other trauma, it can crack. If it cracks, then the spongey/gelatinous center behaves as all liquids and semi-liquids do, and it will flow out of the crack.

This reduces the space between one disc and the next, which means that your vertebrae are no longer properly cushioned, and that’s what leads to back pain.

The only way to be sure if this is the root cause of your pain, of course, is to have a spinal exam conducted by your chiropractor.

In most cases, a herniated disc can be treated with regular chiropractic care, which involves periodic spinal adjustments. In some cases, however, other forms of treatment may be necessary.

Symptomatically, the two things you should be on the lookout for are incontinence, and problems with your reflexes or other motor functions. These symptoms indicate that the problem may have progressed beyond what chiropractic care can fix, and surgery or other treatment options may be necessary at that point.

The worst thing you can do is leave the condition untreated, as this can cause it to worsen and lead to other conditions like sciatica. If you’re currently experiencing back pain, it’s important that you take action right away!

Simple Steps To Get Back On Track After Holiday Binging

simple-stepsIf you’re like many people, the holiday season is a time of good cheer and great food. The first part is wonderful, but the second can be problematic.

During the holiday season, the presence of all that food can be a tremendous temptation, and many people suffer from weight gain, promising themselves they’ll lose weight at the start of the new year.

Unfortunately, if you’re in the habit of serial dieting and see your weight fluctuate wildly over time, you’re setting yourself up for failure.

Those fluctuations in weight will literally rewire your brain. Any time you diet, your body will not interpret it as dieting, and instead will see it as a crisis. This will cause it to respond by hoarding every bit of energy it can, and of course, when your body hoards energy, it does so in the form of fat, which makes it harder for you to lose weight and keep it off.

The best way to shed those holiday pounds is to keep it simple. Here are some strategies for doing just that:

• Eat out of a smaller plate. This will fool your brain into thinking you’re eating more than you are. The plate is full, so your stomach is happy.
• Drink more water. Water is a fantastic dieting tool because it contains no calories and your body needs it anyway. Most Americans are dehydrated, and this is due in large part to our coffee obsession (coffee dehydrates you!), so odds are that you’re not getting as much water as you should be. There’s no such thing as too much water, and it will help make you feel full.
• Fool your brain about exercise – Let’s face it, nobody likes exercise, but there’s a simple trick you can use to fool yourself into enjoying it more. Just pick any activity that you’ve always wanted to try or currently enjoy and start doing more of it. The catch is that it needs to have a physical component. This could be anything from fencing to hiking or whitewater rafting to tennis. It doesn’t matter, as long as those conditions are met. You’ll be doing something you love, and you’ll get more exercise, which will help you keep those pounds off!