(ProActive Sports Rehab offers a weekly column promoting health, fitness and physical therapy. Please be sure to check back each week for a new topic!)
Most people think that injuries come from one specific incident, but the truth is a large percentage of injuries occur over a long period of time due to poor posture or repetitive injuries. Good posture is key when trying to avoid these injuries.
Postural injuries can include lower back pain, hip pain, shoulder impingement, neck and arm pain, elbow tendonitis, carpal tunnel and more.
Many jobs today require sitting in a desk chair for numerous hours on end. The prolonged slouching that often occurs can put a strain on the lower back muscles, hips and spine. This slouching can lead to protruding discs and/or sciatica. An easy way to avoid these injuries is having proper lumbar support. An ergonomic chair with lumbar support can be purchased, or a simple lumbar support cushion is also an inexpensive option. Additionally, set a timer for 30 minutes to remind yourself to get up and change position, even if its only for a minute or two.
Using a computer for a long period of time can also lead to poor posture in the shoulders and neck. Hunching over a keyboard will lead to rounded shoulders and a forward-placed head and neck. Due to the misalignment that occurs, increased muscle strain can be felt in the neck and may again lead to disc problems, arm pain or numbness. Remember to keep your monitor straight in front of you, with the top of the monitor at eye level.
Rounded shoulders will close off the space in the shoulder and lead to impingement — a pinching on the tendons — that leads to shoulder or upper arm pain and lack of shoulder motion. Lumbar support will again improve your posture all the way up the spine to the neck and shoulders, but also remember to take the time to stretch and pull your shoulders back frequently during the day to decrease the strain on your neck and shoulders.
When using a computer, a proper wrist support in front of the keyboard and mouse will take the strain off the wrist and hands and keep them in better alignment. Stretching the forearm muscles will also decrease the tension put on these areas from prolonged typing and mouse use.
Treating an injury early will significantly reduce the amount of time needed to correct the problem. If you are feeling any of these symptoms and they last more than a couple of weeks, please contact one of the licensed physical therapists at ProActive Sports Rehab. For older injuries, ASTYM (www.ASTYM.com) has been found to be an effective treatment, and ProActive has ASTYM-certified physical therapists at both their Orchard Park and Hamburg locations. Please call 674-9600 (Orchard Park) or 648-8700 (Hamburg) to speak to a physical therapist or to schedule an appointment.
ProActive Sports Rehab, with offices in Orchard Park and Hamburg, offers one-on-one physical therapy and rehabilitation services. For more information, please visit http://proactivesportsrehab.com or call 674-9600 (Orchard Park office) or 648-8700 (Hamburg office). You can also follow ProActive Sports Rehab on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ProActiveSportsRehab for frequent updates.