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Pain and Posture: The Basics

Pain and Posture: The Basics

Pain and Posture: The Basics

    Old “Doc” Plume, the local hardware store owner, who was known for his miraculous cures for arthritis, had a long line of “patients” waiting outside the door when a little old lady, completely bent over, shuffled in slowly, leaning on her cane.  When her turn came, she went into the back room of the store and, amazingly, emerged within half an hour, walking completely erect with her head held high.  A woman waiting in the line said, “It’s a miracle! You walked in bent in half and now you’re walking erect.   What did Doc do?”  She answered, “He gave me a longer cane.”

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      It’s funny; most of the people with bad posture or pain syndrome I run into want to know a miracle exercise that will cure their dysfunction.  Sure, exercise can help and be a big part of a program designed to deal with pain and posture.  But more often than not, it is the little things in our everyday lives that could use some adjusting.  With that, here is a short list of activities to be mindful of.

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      Driving: Do you slouch, lean to one side more than the other?  Maybe you keep one hand high on the steering wheel and the other low, causing you to shrug one shoulder more than the other.  The point: try to shift and change positions often if you spend lots of time in the car.  The best position will always be hands at 10 and 2.  And holding your back tall and flat against the seat.

      Desk: You should know by now that posture at the desk is important.  You’re in this position for several hours at a time and it can have BIG repercussions on your health.  Get up often and be aware of any favoritism to any particular positions you might find yourself in.  Reaching and twisting from a seated position is a big no-no.  Try to organize your desk to be more spine friendly by putting often-used folders and materials within arm’s reach.

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      Sleeping: Our sleep posture is one of the most overlooked aspects of our life.  You spend 8 hours (hopefully) a night in either one or various positions that could have a large impact on your posture during the day.  Do you pile the pillows high?  This leads to excess stretching of the extensors in the neck, possibly contributing to a forward head posture.  Do you pull the bed sheets tight over your feet, pulling your toes into a pointed position?  This can lead to limited ankle mobility, which then affects your entire body mechanics, from walking to sitting.  Do you sleep on your side with one leg bent and across your body?  This can lead to an imbalance between your left and right spinal erectors, which then could be contributing to your back pain.  This is can be even worse if you’re a woman with generous hips.  Paranoid yet?  I didn’t even mention how sleeping on your stomach can contribute to an excessive lordodic curve ,which then may lead to extra compressive forces for your lumbar spine to handle.  So which is the best position to sleep in?  On your side, knees bent, pillow between the knees and your head resting on a single pillow.  Or if you prefer, on your back with a pillow under your knees, sheets loose, and again, a single pillow for the head.

      The point I’m trying to drive home here is that we need to pay more attention to our bodies when they’re NOT in motion.  It’s the little things like these that add up and contribute to a life of constant and nagging pains.  Practice a technique known as mindfulness.  Every once in awhile turn your attention inwards and ask yourself; have I been in this position for too long?  Could I do something to make my current posture or situation more comfortable and back friendly?  Before you know it, the pain that once prevented you from doing normal everyday tasks will have disappeared and become a thing of the past.

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      The Gentle Art of Saying No

      The Gentle Art of Saying No

      No!

      It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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      But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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      What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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      But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

      1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
      2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
      3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
      4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
      5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
      6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
      7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
      8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
      9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
      10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

      Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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