posture http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/13604/all en-US 6 Ways to Get Prettier, Smarter, and Healthier While You Sleep http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-to-get-prettier-smarter-and-healthier-while-you-sleep <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-ways-to-get-prettier-smarter-and-healthier-while-you-sleep" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman-sleeping-460137233-small.jpg" alt="woman sleeping" title="woman sleeping" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>There's a whole lot you can accomplish in your sleep &mdash; a battery recharge, brain power refresher, and a more youthful glow among them. Read on for our round-up of the top six ways you can maximize your slumber. Because if you're going to multi-task during the day, you might as well do so at night, too. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-foods-that-can-help-you-sleep?ref=seealso">10 Foods That Can Help You Sleep</a>)</p> <h2>1. Lower the Thermostat</h2> <p>We can boost metabolic health and even burn a few more calories each day by sleeping in chillier bedrooms. Researchers say <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24954193">66 degrees is ideal sleeping weather</a> &mdash; it helps our bodies build up the good fats that burn off calories and fends off insulin sensitivity that can lead to diabetes. It's also good for our bank accounts during long, cold winters.</p> <h2>2. Opt for Satin or Silk</h2> <p>A pillowcase made of satin or silk is good for the hair and skin. Unlike cotton, linen, and polyester, dermatologists have found that these fibers actually soften wrinkles because they create only minimal friction between your head and the pillowcase. They're also packed with proteins that <a href="http://clinicaltrials.gov/show/NCT00767104">prevent hair from splitting and frizzing</a>.</p> <h2>3. Go to Bed With a Clean, Moisturized Face</h2> <p>It's important to wash your face thoroughly to remove all the dirt and makeup that can clog your pores and lead to unpleasant morning breakouts. It's equally important to moisturize to help improve your skin tone and texture while repairing any sun damage. The good news is there's no need to break the bank on designer night creams.</p> <p>Experts say even the most basic moisturizers are packed with peptides and vitamin C, and those are precisely the ingredients you need to make your skin firmer and prevent new wrinkles from forming. Creams containing retinol can be a bit more costly, but the bang for your buck is big: Retinol is <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/21/fashion/21skin.html?pagewanted=all">one of few ingredients available without a prescription that treats the wrinkles you already have</a>.</p> <h2>4. Sleep on Your Back</h2> <p>Over time, those crease lines you wake up with after a night spent on your stomach or your side will become full-blown wrinkles, according to the American Academy of Dermatologists. But you can avoid smooshing your skin against the sheets by slumbering on your back. Experts say <a href="http://www.aad.org/dermatology-a-to-z/health-and-beauty/every-stage-of-life/adult-skin/what-causes-aging-skin">it's the best sleeping position</a>, and not just because it minimizes wrinkling. Sleeping on your back also prevents neck and back pain, reduces acid reflux and helps women retain perky breasts. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/your-sleeping-position-may-be-hurting-you">Your Sleeping Position May Be Hurting You</a>)</p> <h2>5. Listen to Classical Music</h2> <p>Playing soft classical music 45 minutes before bed or while you slumber has been linked to <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18426457">decreased anxiety, lower blood pressure, and curing insomnia</a>. It also makes you smarter. Studies show that children who listen to Mozart become more intelligent. It's called &quot;<a href="http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20130107-can-mozart-boost-brainpower">The Mozart Effect</a>,&quot; and if it works for kids, it's apt to work for adults, right?</p> <h2>6. Get a Solid 7 Hours of Shut-Eye &mdash; At Least</h2> <p>Sleep experts recommend we all get seven to eight hours of sleep a night if you want to be fresh, sharp, and good-natured in the morning. Those who skimp on their slumber risk more than sluggishness and a grumpy demeanor. Studies show that people who average less than seven hours of sleep at night are nearly three times <a href="http://archinte.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/169/1/62">more likely to catch the common cold</a> than those who sleep for eight hours or more. Those who sleep less than six hours a night are <a href="http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=410832">more likely to have excess body fat</a>. And people who report sleeping less than five hours a night are more <a href="http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=410883">at risk for having or developing Type 2 Diabetes</a>.</p> <p><em>Are you getting enough sleep?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/brittany-lyte">Brittany Lyte</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-to-get-prettier-smarter-and-healthier-while-you-sleep">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/change-your-life-with-a-30-day-challenge">Change Your Life With a 30 Day Challenge</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kill-boredom-with-these-34-fun-and-productive-projects">Kill Boredom With These 34 Fun and Productive Projects</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-easy-ways-to-have-energy-after-work">7 Easy Ways to Have Energy After Work</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-hours-9-hours-this-is-how-much-sleep-you-really-need">8 Hours? 9 Hours? This Is How Much Sleep You REALLY Need</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-ways-to-invest-in-yourself">9 Ways to Invest in Yourself</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Development beauty secrets posture self improvement sleep Mon, 08 Sep 2014 15:00:04 +0000 Brittany Lyte 1205244 at http://www.wisebread.com 7 More Quick Tips and Tricks for Better Posture http://www.wisebread.com/7-more-quick-tips-and-tricks-for-better-posture <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-more-quick-tips-and-tricks-for-better-posture" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/good-posture-office-177784179-small.jpg" alt="good sitting posture" title="good sitting posture" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>One of the quickest and easiest ways to feel better both mentally and physically is to stand up straight. We've already covered some <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/get-and-keep-amazing-posture-by-doing-these-10-stretches-today">smart stretches</a> you can do to get your posture more upright and your spine better aligned. But there's more work to do! (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-easy-ways-to-take-better-care-of-your-back?ref=seealso">5 Easy Ways to take Better Care of Your Back</a>)</p> <p>Check out these easy exercises and other methods that will help ease back pain and have you looking and feeling more confident in no time.</p> <h2>1. Wall Test</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" alt="" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/tired-athletic-woman-450797247-small.jpg" /></p> <p>To check your current posture, all you need is some clear wall space. Stand with the back of your <a href="http://www.creatingwellnesschiro.com/uploads/Posture_self_test.pdf">head against a wall</a> and your feet around 6 inches away from the baseboard. From there, position your buttocks against the wall and check to see where your lower back and neck fall in alignment. You should only find a couple inches of space in these nooks.</p> <h2>2. Sit to Stand</h2> <p><iframe width="605" height="340" frameborder="0" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/5SbXc7KdX1A" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p>While sitting up straight in a chair, <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5SbXc7KdX1A">raise your body</a> with your legs into a standing position while keeping your neck and spine erect. Repeat 5 to 10 times with little if any rest between, keeping good posture throughout. This exercise is good for your lower half, like a squat, but also trains your body to keep proper posture throughout the day's tasks, which often involve the transition from sitting to standing.</p> <h2>3. Core Strengthener</h2> <p><iframe width="605" height="340" frameborder="0" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/TWpbe9nRySc" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p>A strong core is one of the keys to better posture, but most of us forget it when our backs start to ache. Doing exercises like planks can engage those muscles in the abs and around the spine that help hold up your torso. Just make sure you use <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TWpbe9nRySc">proper form</a> to get the most benefit, drawing your belly button in toward your spine while squeezing your glutes for a comprehensive workout. Start with 30 seconds and work up to a minute or two.</p> <h2>4. Leg Extensions</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" alt="" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/woman-leg-extensions-186306665-small.jpg" /></p> <p>Another great way to work your core is by doing crunches. Take them to a new level by adding <a href="http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20419337_7,00.html">leg extensions</a> to your everyday routine. Sit on the ground with your arms behind you, palms on the floor. Then raise both legs up high and slowly lower &mdash; focusing on core muscles &mdash; and raise again just before touching the ground. Work up to doing 15-20 at a time.</p> <h2>5. Load Off</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" alt="" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/man-rolling-briefcase-83066241-small.jpg" /></p> <p>Carrying heavy backpacks and other burdensome items can <a href="http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/04/23/heavy-backpacks-can-spell-chronic-back-pain-for-children/">wreck havoc on your back</a> and alter your posture. Try using a roll suitcase for especially heavy loads. If you must carry your pack, be sure to wear both straps, use additional waist or shoulder straps, and reduce your load as much as possible. If you regularly carry a briefcase or shoulder bag, consider switching to a backpack or roller to more evenly distribute your load.</p> <h2>6. Chair Master</h2> <p><iframe width="605" height="340" frameborder="0" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/jj3BirYh6Wc" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p>You can work on your posture during the workday from your desk chair. It's all about <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jj3BirYh6Wc">opening up your chest</a> and doing the exercises regularly. Sit up and make a W shape with your arms, almost like you're going to use the chest fly machine at the gym. Move your arms backward and forward again, keeping a neutral spine. Do 10 repetitions and work up to more as you feel comfortable. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-no-sweat-workouts-perfect-for-the-workplace?ref=seealso">10 No-Sweat Workouts Perfect for the Workplace</a>)</p> <h2>7. Practice Pose</h2> <p><iframe width="605" height="340" frameborder="0" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/KEpC5ixjDp4" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p>And perhaps the simplest way to work on your posture is to learn the <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KEpC5ixjDp4">correct form</a> to being with and to practice it each day. Your head, shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles should all be in alignment. Your spine should be slightly curved at the lower back. If your feel your head and shoulders start to lurch forward during the day, return to the basic stance and bring your awareness back to standing up straight.</p> <p><em>How do you work on your posture during the day? Please share in comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-marcin">Ashley Marcin</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-more-quick-tips-and-tricks-for-better-posture">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-apps-that-pay-you-to-exercise">5 Apps That Pay You To Exercise</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/get-and-keep-amazing-posture-by-doing-these-10-stretches-today">Get — and Keep — Amazing Posture by Doing These 10 Stretches Today</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-no-sweat-workouts-perfect-for-the-workplace">10 No-Sweat Workouts Perfect for the Workplace</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/if-youre-doing-these-4-exercises-your-workouts-are-worth-nothing">If You&#039;re Doing These 4 Exercises, Your Workouts Are Worth Nothing</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-habits-that-are-quietly-making-you-fat-and-have-nothing-to-do-with-eating">7 Habits That Are Quietly Making You Fat (and Have Nothing to Do With Eating)</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Health and Beauty Personal Development back health core strength fitness posture workout Tue, 19 Aug 2014 17:00:04 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1189081 at http://www.wisebread.com You Might Be Breathing Wrong — Here's What You Should Do Instead http://www.wisebread.com/you-might-be-breathing-wrong-heres-what-you-should-do-instead <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/you-might-be-breathing-wrong-heres-what-you-should-do-instead" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/breathing-461235173-small.jpg" alt="breathing" title="breathing" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="152" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Take a deep breath &mdash;&nbsp;a really deep breath. For many of my yoga and meditation students, breathing is one of the hardest parts of class. Some are shallow breathers, meaning they only take in the bare minimum amount of breath needed to survive. Quite a few of my students also have a habit of holding their breath, especially when in challenging poses or when they're faced with a difficult situation in life. <a href="http://www.npr.org/2010/12/06/131734718/just-breathe-body-has-a-built-in-stress-reliever">Both of these habits</a> reduce the oxygen levels in our bodies and increase the levels of stress chemicals and carbon dioxide. This leaves us lethargic and induces depression. It also suppresses the immune system. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/relax-and-conquer?ref=seealso">Relax and Conquer</a>)</p> <p>Taking just a few moments to breathe deeply and fully every day gives us more energy, improves our mood, cleanses the body of toxins, staves off disease, and helps us to stay active.</p> <p>Here's a five step plan to get the most benefits from every breath.</p> <h2>1. Adjust Your Posture</h2> <p>The first step to correct breathing is efficient and optimal posture. We need to adjust the architecture of the body to allow the lungs to fully expand.</p> <p>Decide if you feel most comfortable lying down on your back, sitting, or standing. If lying on the back, choose a supportive surface such as a yoga mat placed on the floor. Let the body fully relax into the mat and notice the natural curves of the spine.</p> <p>If sitting down, choose a supportive chair or sit cross-legged on a yoga mat with the back against the wall.</p> <p>If standing, feel all four corners of both feet sinking down evenly into the ground. It standing or sitting, imagine that there's a string in the middle of the crown of the head that slightly lifts you up and check to see that the chin is parallel to the ground. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/get-and-keep-amazing-posture-by-doing-these-10-stretches-today?ref=seealso">Get &mdash; and Keep &mdash; Amazing Posture With These 10 Stretches</a>)</p> <h2>2. Relax Your Face, Neck, Shoulders, and Ribs</h2> <p>Now that you have the body in correct alignment, relax all the muscles of the face, neck, shoulders, and ribs. With these areas relaxed, the nasal passages, throat, chest, and muscles between the rib bones relax as well, and you are ready to receive as much air as your lungs can hold.</p> <h2>3. Check Your Belly, Chest, and Collar Bones</h2> <p>While the lungs are the primary organ for breathing, other parts of the body get involved as well. As the lungs expand, the belly expands, the chest rises, and even the collar bones lift slightly. As we exhale, the collar bones drop, the chest falls, and the navel moves back toward the spine when the belly relaxes. When all three of these areas move with the breath, we call this a <a href="http://www.yogaindailylife.org/esystem/yoga/en/020200/exercise-levels/the-full-yoga-breath/">Full Complete Breath</a>.</p> <h2>4. Recognize Nasal Breathing Versus Mouth Breathing</h2> <p>There is a biological difference between breathing in and out through the nose and in and out through the mouth even though both breathing mechanisms involve the lungs.</p> <p>When we breathe in and out through the nose, we <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3449485">actually stimulate the brain</a>. The left nostril is connected to the right side of the brain (the creative, big-picture side of the brain) and the right nostril is connected to the left side of the brain (the analytical, detail-oriented side of the brain.) By breathing in and out through the nose, we actively engage the entire brain.</p> <p>When we bypass the nose and breathe in and out of the mouth, the brain is less stimulated. Breathing in and out through the mouth is a good option when we are overheated or when we encounter sizzling summer temperatures. This is because breathing in and out through the mouth is an excellent way for the body to release excess heat quickly and effectively.</p> <h2>5. Try These Three Specialized Techniques</h2> <p>Depending on your needs, you can use three different techniques for three different benefits.</p> <h3>When You Need to Relax</h3> <p>The relaxation response is triggered by belly breathing. To get a sense of this technique, place both hands on the belly. When you breathe in and out, allow most of the body expansion to happen in the belly rather than the chest. This is a technique to practice when we feel nervous, fearful, or stressed.</p> <h3>When You Need More Energy</h3> <p>The breath is also a great tool to give us some added pep in our step. While belly breathing helps us calm down, concentrating more of our breathing movement in the chest stimulates the nervous system. To receive this benefit, place both hands on the heart and concentrate most of the body movement associated with the breath in that area. This technique works if you feel tired or mentally or physically depleted.</p> <h3>To Get the Most Out of Your Workout</h3> <p>Breath is, of course, an integral part of any workout. As a general rule, breathe in when you expand any part of the body (for example, lifting the arms up overhead) and breathe out when you contract any part of the body (for example, curling the arms toward the body with weights in the hands). This lets the breath act as a tool to align with and support our physical movements.</p> <p>Breathing is one of only two actions the body does consciously and subconsciously. (Blinking is the other one.) As a result, we often take conscious breathing for granted, though it can work wonders for both our mental and physical health. It's a tool we can use and a barometer of how we're feeling. Use it wisely with the steps and techniques above.</p> <p><em>Have you tried to improve your breathing? Please share in comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/christa-avampato">Christa Avampato</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/you-might-be-breathing-wrong-heres-what-you-should-do-instead">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-things-yoga-can-teach-you-about-money">5 Things Yoga Can Teach You About Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/get-and-keep-amazing-posture-by-doing-these-10-stretches-today">Get — and Keep — Amazing Posture by Doing These 10 Stretches Today</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/super-solid-yoga-tricks-to-help-you-relax">Super Solid Yoga Tricks to Help You Relax</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-cheap-ways-to-lower-your-blood-sugar">13 Natural and Easy Ways to Lower Your Blood Sugar</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/30-unexpected-uses-for-mineral-oil">30 Unexpected Uses for Mineral Oil</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Life Hacks Health and Beauty breathing deep breathing posture relaxation yoga Thu, 12 Jun 2014 15:00:52 +0000 Christa Avampato 1142439 at http://www.wisebread.com Get — and Keep — Amazing Posture by Doing These 10 Stretches Today http://www.wisebread.com/get-and-keep-amazing-posture-by-doing-these-10-stretches-today <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/get-and-keep-amazing-posture-by-doing-these-10-stretches-today" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/yoga-99433787.jpg" alt="stretching" title="stretching" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Did you know your posture has the power to make you look up to <a href="http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/features/how-to-look-thinner-instantly">10 pounds thinner</a>? It's true! And that's just one of the many benefits associated with standing up straighter. Anything from projecting confidence to protecting your bones and ligaments from uneven wear and tear can be the result of better overall alignment.</p> <p>The best part? You can start working on better posture today with these 10 simple stretches. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/stop-slouching-5-ways-to-improve-your-posture?ref=seealso">Stop Slouching! 5 Ways to Improve Your Posture</a>)</p> <h2>1. Cat / Cow</h2> <p><img width="605" height="181" alt="" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u784/catcow.jpg" /></p> <p>If you've ever been to a yoga class, this asana is one of the first in the sequence &mdash; so it's a perfect starter. Just get on your hands and knees with a neutral spine, then slowly alternate between <a href="http://www.yogajournal.com/poses/2468">Cat</a> and <a href="http://www.yogajournal.com/poses/2467">Cow</a>. Not only will these poses help with posture, but they will also give your core a good stretch and even <a href="http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/ART03444/CatCow-Pose.html">improve your breathing</a>. And if you've never been to yoga class, &quot;asana&quot; means posture or pose.</p> <h2>2. Downward Dog</h2> <p><iframe width="605" height="340" frameborder="0" src="//www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/w43eUOjHkpA" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p>Another yoga classic, <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w43eUOjHkpA">Downward Facing Dog</a> is a wonderful pose for stretching the spine. If you're in an actual yoga class, you might ask your instructor to evaluate your technique to find any postural imbalances and to help correct them. As I've heard many instructors say: It's not important if your heels touch the ground. Focus instead on your back and hip alignment.</p> <h2>3. Chin to Chest</h2> <p>Your neck also plays a large role in your overall posture. Stretching is super easy. While standing straight with a neutral spine, slowly lower your chin to your chest and hold for 30 seconds while inhaling/exhaling. Then return and repeat a few more times. It feels good because it's helping release those tense muscles! You can perform this stretch side to side as well with the same method. I've just been advised by yoga instructors not to roll my head into position to avoid compression of nerves and arteries.</p> <h2>4. Shoulders Back</h2> <p><iframe width="605" height="340" frameborder="0" src="//www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/kjXlGXVdvDI" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p>One of the worst posture offenders is sitting, especially at a desk all day (sound familiar?). This <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kjXlGXVdvDI">upper back, neck, and shoulder stretch</a> is quick and can be discretely performed in your chair at work. The presenter encourages people to perform this stretch every 20 minutes &mdash; so it's a great reminder to sit up straight and mind your posture. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-no-sweat-workouts-perfect-for-the-workplace?ref=seealso">10 No-Sweat Workouts Perfect for the Workplace</a>)</p> <h2>5. Glute Bridge</h2> <p><iframe width="605" height="340" frameborder="0" src="//www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/viyoVBR_J5c" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p>The hips and overall pelvis are also a huge part of posture and definitely negatively impacted by sitting for long stretches. This <a href="http://www.swolept.com/posts/fixing-anterior-pelvic-tilt-posture-tricks-to-make-your-butt-and-gut-smaller">comprehensive guide</a> to fixing anterior pelvic tilt is beyond helpful and provides several stretches and exercises that promise to &quot;make your butt and gut [appear] smaller.&quot; My favorite? The <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=viyoVBR_J5c">glute bridge</a>.</p> <h2>6. Spine Stretch</h2> <p><iframe width="605" height="454" frameborder="0" src="//www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/eplZywfWJyM" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p>This <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eplZywfWJyM">Pilates-based spine stretch</a> is for beginners. The instructor has modified the stretch to be performed against a wall for &quot;accountability&quot; &mdash; in other words, to make sure your spine is straight. I also like her addition of leg variations to work on hamstring flexibility. After all, everything in the body is connected and can contribute to better posture.</p> <h2>7. Forward Fold</h2> <p><img width="605" height="404" alt="" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u784/forwardfold-92101580.jpg" /></p> <p>Lengthen your spine and stretch the back of your entire body by simply standing and bending into <a href="http://www.yogajournal.com/poses/478">Uttanasana</a> or Forward Fold. It can feel frustrating when trying to get your fingertips to touch the floor &mdash; so forget that part and just &quot;cross your forearms and hold your elbows.&quot; The more times you perform this stretch over time, the better it feels (and the deeper you stretch).&nbsp;</p> <h2>8. Cobra</h2> <p><img width="605" height="403" alt="" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u784/cobra-163080153.jpg" /></p> <p>Another Hatha yoga pose that enhances posture is the <a href="http://www.cnyhealingarts.com/2010/12/24/the-health-benefits-of-bhujangasana-cobra-pose/">Cobra</a>. The benefits of this position are twofold. First, it stretches shoulder, chest, and abdominal muscles. Second, it strengthens the spine, shoulders, and arms. Hissing and sticking out your tongue while in your cobra is optional.</p> <h2>9. Pectoral Stretch</h2> <p><iframe width="605" height="340" frameborder="0" src="//www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/KSqIY0lRAvU" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p>Don't forget to stretch your pecs. The massage therapist leading this exercises challenges viewers to think of how we open our bodies into <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KSqIY0lRAvU">this soothing position</a>. &quot;Not often&quot; is usually the answer. All you need is a doorway and a few minutes to get going.</p> <h2>10. Kneeling Hip Flexor</h2> <p><iframe width="605" height="454" frameborder="0" src="//www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/nyBEANBOkvY" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p>There's more love for the lower body with this <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nyBEANBOkvY">essential stretch</a>. The hip flexors are those muscles on the front of the pelvis, and they often get tight with sitting or too much exercise (as a runner, I can confirm!). Kneel down onto your knees, one foot in front, and then sink your pelvis toward the floor. That's all you have to do!</p> <p><em>Do you have any favorite, posture enhancing stretches? Please share in comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-marcin">Ashley Marcin</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/get-and-keep-amazing-posture-by-doing-these-10-stretches-today">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-things-yoga-can-teach-you-about-money">5 Things Yoga Can Teach You About Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-exercise-mats">The 5 Best Exercise Mats</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-yoga-blocks">The 5 Best Yoga Blocks</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-easy-ways-to-work-stretching-into-your-daily-routine">10 Easy Ways to Work Stretching Into Your Daily Routine</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/you-might-be-breathing-wrong-heres-what-you-should-do-instead">You Might Be Breathing Wrong — Here&#039;s What You Should Do Instead</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Health and Beauty asana fitness posture stretching yoga Thu, 15 May 2014 08:36:24 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1139410 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Easy Ways to Take Better Care of Your Back http://www.wisebread.com/5-easy-ways-to-take-better-care-of-your-back <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-easy-ways-to-take-better-care-of-your-back" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/exercise-186942125.jpg" alt="back pain" title="back pain" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you&#39;re glued to a desk for eight hours a day or stand for long periods at work, then you&#39;re probably no stranger to back pain. Just about everyone experiences this type of pain at some point. In fact, back pain is the &quot;second most common neurological ailment in the United States, with Americans spending at least $50 billion a year on low back pain,&quot; according to the <a href="http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/backpain/detail_backpain.htm">National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke</a>.</p> <p>It really doesn&#39;t take much to trigger a backache. Simple activities like twisting the body or lifting a heavy object can have you laid up in bed. And while back pain can point to a medical condition, such as a bulging disc, spinal degeneration, osteoporosis or spinal tumors, most backaches are acute and improve within a few weeks. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/your-sleeping-position-may-be-hurting-you">Ways Your Sleeping Position May Be Hurting You</a>)</p> <p>Sometimes, getting rid of pain &mdash; or avoiding it altogether &mdash; is a matter of taking better care of your back.</p> <h2>1. Get Active</h2> <p>If you&#39;re a couch potato who prefers channel surfing over any type of physical activity, don&#39;t be surprised when you develop chronic back pain. Exercise is key to strengthening the muscles in your body, and your back muscles are no exception. These muscles become weak when you&#39;re stagnant, and with weak back muscles, you&#39;re more susceptible to strains.</p> <p>There is a simple fix &mdash; increase your activity level. Not that you have to transform into a workout junkie. But if you can incorporate <a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002119.htm">20 to 30 minutes of activity most days of the week</a>, you&#39;re on the right track.</p> <p>It doesn&#39;t need to be strenuous activities, just something to strengthen your core and back muscles. Activities might include yoga, Pilates, swimming, walking, light resistance training, or low-impact aerobics. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-great-body-weight-exercises-and-why-you-should-do-them">20 Great Body Weight Exercises</a>)</p> <h2>2. Practice Good Posture</h2> <p>Old habits are hard to break. And if you&#39;re accustomed to slouching in your chair or standing with your shoulders hunched, standing and sitting tall might feel awkward. But there are undeniable benefits to &quot;straightening up.&quot;</p> <p>Bad posture strains your muscles and joints, and this constant strain can trigger chronic backaches, as well as neck pain, headaches, and tendonitis. Good posture, however, keeps the <a href="http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/back-pain/LB00002_D">spine properly aligned and balanced</a>, decreasing stress on ligaments and preventing muscle strains.</p> <p>What can you do?</p> <p>Practice sitting with your feet flat on the floor. If sitting at a desk, adjust the height of the chair to prevent feet dangling, or use a footrest. Keep your spine straight and your shoulders back. Don&#39;t slouch over your desk. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/stop-slouching-5-ways-to-improve-your-posture">5 Ways to Improve Your Posture</a>)</p> <p>Good posture also applies when standing. Make a conscious effort to keep your feet shoulder-width apart, your knees slightly bent and your shoulders pulled back.</p> <h2>3. Lose Weight</h2> <p>Dropping a few pounds can not only improve your health and the way you feel about yourself, it can also relieve back pain. Some people fail to see the connection between weight and back pain. However, &quot;<a href="http://www.wfcnj.com/chiropractic/holiday-stress.php">every extra pound in the abdominal region could put 10 pounds more stress on the lower back</a>,&quot; says Dr. Luigi DiRubba, a chiropractor and President of the Connecticut Chiropractic Council.</p> <p>If you believe weight is the underlying cause of your back pain, talk with your doctor and discuss a healthy weight for your height. Take steps to drop excess weight. You never know, as little as five to ten pounds could make a difference. Choosing a healthy diet that focuses on fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and nonfat dairy foods is a good start, as well as drinking plenty of water and getting regular physical activity. Dr. DiRubba suggests eating in moderation and taking brief 15- to 20-minute walks after a big meal. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-reasons-why-you-should-take-a-walk">25 Reasons to Take a Walk</a>)</p> <h2>4. Watch How You Lift</h2> <p>Learning the right way to lift heavy items can also reduce backaches. It&#39;s tempting to lean forward and lift an item with your back. But this way does more harm than good.</p> <p><a href="http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/back-pain/LB00004_D">To avoid straining your spine and back</a> muscles, always bend at your knees. After you have a firm grip on the item, lift with your legs. Tighten your abdominal muscles as you lift and keep the object close to your body. Do not lean forward. And while you may take pride in the ability to do things without assistance from others, just know that a thrown out back is no picnic. With that said, ask for help if an item is too heavy.</p> <h2>5. Take Care of Your Feet</h2> <p>Taking care of your back starts with taking care of your feet. This only makes sense considering how your feet support your body. They are your foundation, and if your shoes don&#39;t provide the right kind of support, the effects can be felt all over your back.</p> <p>For example, high heels might be your shoes of choice, but according to <a href="http://www.bidmc.org/YourHealth/HealthNotes/BackPain/PreventionManagement/AreYourShoesCausingYourBackPain.aspx">Dr. John M. Giurini, Chief of the Division of Podiatry at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center</a>, &quot;high heels can throw off your alignment. They change the center of gravity, causing extra stress and strain on the lower back.&quot;</p> <p>And don&#39;t think you&#39;re doing your back a favor by switching from heels to flip-flops. &quot;Flip-flops actually change the way your foot strikes the ground,&quot; says <a href="http://www.foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/2012/07/13/dont-do-flips-for-these-flops/">Annie Malone, a physical therapist for an outpatient rehabilitation provider in Chicago</a>. &quot;Your back will often take the brunt of those unnatural muscle movements.&quot;</p> <p>Of course, nobody is suggesting that you never wear another pair of high heels or flip-flops. Shoes that don&#39;t offer the best support might be appropriate at times, such as flip-flops at the beach or pool. But these shoes shouldn&#39;t be your everyday, normal footwear. For a healthier back and less pain, choose shoes that offer the best comfort and arch support &mdash; preferably flat shoes or sneakers. If you go with a heel, keep it around one or one-half inch.</p> <p><em>Do you have more easy ways to take better care of your back? Let me know in the comments below.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-easy-ways-to-take-better-care-of-your-back">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-easy-back-exercises-that-will-help-eliminate-pain">10 Easy Back Exercises That Will Help Eliminate Pain</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-easy-ways-to-burn-almost-1000-extra-calories-per-day">10 Easy Ways to Burn Almost 1000 Extra Calories Per Day</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/get-and-keep-amazing-posture-by-doing-these-10-stretches-today">Get — and Keep — Amazing Posture by Doing These 10 Stretches Today</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-killer-ways-to-really-actually-lose-weight">7 Killer Ways to Really, Actually Lose Weight</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/14-dumb-things-holding-you-back-from-losing-weight">14 Dumb Things Holding You Back From Losing Weight</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Health and Beauty back pain fitness Health posture Fri, 13 Dec 2013 10:48:06 +0000 Mikey Rox 1096697 at http://www.wisebread.com Stop Slouching! 5 Ways to Improve Your Posture http://www.wisebread.com/stop-slouching-5-ways-to-improve-your-posture <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/stop-slouching-5-ways-to-improve-your-posture" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/yoga_posture.jpg" alt="Sitting with a straight back" title="Sitting with a straight back" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Forget the start of barbecue season.</p> <p>The month of May is all about bad backs and slouched shoulders.</p> <p>At least, that's the hope of chiropractic organizations, which have pushed to rechristen May as &quot;National Correct Posture Month.&quot; Doesn't have a springtime ring to it, but the reality is that scores of Americans exhibit poor posture, which can directly impact their health. Studies have indicated links between good posture and good health, and that's become an increasingly important relationship in a sedentary age of iPads and cubicle farms. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/fitness-for-people-who-hate-exercise">Fitness for People Who&nbsp;Hate Exercise</a>)</p> <p>&quot;When you are in good posture, it's as if you've lost 10 pounds,&quot; Patrice Winter, a physical therapist in Fairfax, VA, and a spokeswoman for the American Physical Therapy Association, told USA Today last year.</p> <p>The flip side isn't as pleasant. Bad posture can trigger significant back and neck pain and actually contribute to more serious problems in the digestive and cardio-pulmonary systems. Not to take money from the pockets of hard-working chiropractors, but correcting your posture is mostly a matter of commitment and conscious effort.</p> <p>Here's a look at five ways to improve your posture.</p> <h2>Sit With Support</h2> <p>Office jobs can be killer on one's posture. Ideally, you're sitting in a fancy office chair that provides sufficient lumbar support. But that isn't often the case. At least make sure you're sitting in a high-backed chair that offers solid support. Keep your back straight against the chair, with your hips as far back as possible. Sandwich a towel, pillow or other soft implement between the chair back and your own if there isn't enough support for your lower back.</p> <h2>Mind Your Feet</h2> <p>Spending money on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-case-for-expensive-shoes">high-quality shoes</a> is always a good idea. But if that isn't your style, at least forgo the flip-flops, high heels, and other support-less footwear a vast majority of the time. Settle on shoes that provide legitimate arch support. Some health experts urge women to stay away from heels any taller than one inch in height.</p> <h2>Take a Walk</h2> <p>Office-park workers, college kids, and others who spend inordinate amounts of time sitting at their desks must make time to stretch their legs. Sitting for long periods of time encourages slouching. Get up from your desk and take a brief stroll at least once an hour. Workers should also check to see if a stand-up desk is an acceptable alternative. Not only will moving and standing improve your posture, but it might actually save your life. Recent studies have shown that people who sit for most of the day are way more likely to <a href="http://health.yahoo.net/experts/menshealth/most-dangerous-thing-youll-do-all-day">die of a heart attack</a>.</p> <h2>Make It a Focus</h2> <p>Posture isn't something most people think about during the course of a day. Routinely force yourself to step back and examine your current posture. Take a long, hard look in a mirror and scrutinize your typical stance. Tuck in your chin, pull in your stomach muscles, and stretch the spine. Fasten a couple prominent messages to your desk as constant reminders. Clue in your friends and ask them to play &quot;posture police&quot; when they see you slouching.</p> <h2>Strengthen Your Core</h2> <p>Exercise should be a part of your daily life for multiple reasons, not the least of which is that it will help improve your posture. Even simple exercises meant to build your core and strengthen abdominal and back muscles can make a huge difference. Pilates, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/super-solid-yoga-tricks-to-help-you-relax">yoga</a>, and similar exercise courses are all great ways to get fit and improve your posture.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/chris-birk">Chris Birk</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/stop-slouching-5-ways-to-improve-your-posture">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-wonderful-uses-for-witch-hazel">15 Wonderful Uses for Witch Hazel</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-sell-your-hair-for-cash">How to Sell Your Hair for Cash</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-foods-scientifically-proven-to-increase-your-lifespan">6 Foods Scientifically Proven to Increase Your Lifespan</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/curing-warts-removing-splinters-and-19-other-bizarre-uses-for-banana-peels">Curing Warts, Removing Splinters, and 19 Other Bizarre Uses for Banana Peels</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/get-and-keep-amazing-posture-by-doing-these-10-stretches-today">Get — and Keep — Amazing Posture by Doing These 10 Stretches Today</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> General Tips Health and Beauty office culture posture sitting Wed, 11 May 2011 10:36:22 +0000 Chris Birk 540331 at http://www.wisebread.com Office Ergonomics: Lessons Learned from Physical Therapy http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/office-ergonomics-lessons-learned-from-physical-therapy <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/lifestyle/article/office-ergonomics-lessons-learned-from-physical-therapy-kate-lister" target="_blank">http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/lifestyle/article/office-ergonomics-les...</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/office-ergonomics-lessons-learned-from-physical-therapy" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000015004476Smallc.jpg" alt="Wrist pain from mouse" title="Wrist pain from mouse" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>In my younger days, I thought of ergonomically designed desks, chairs, keyboards, etc. as nothing more than an office equipment manufacturer&rsquo;s pursuit of higher margins &mdash; a bait and switch aimed at gullible buyers. Now, at 50-something, I wish I&rsquo;d taken the bait. While I&rsquo;m still not convinced that any office chair is worth thousands of dollars, I could have paid for an office full of them with what I&rsquo;ve spent in doctor&rsquo;s bills and physical therapy.</p> <p>&ldquo;Repetitive stress injuries such as carpal tunnel, tendonitis, and bursitis cost companies millions,&rdquo; says Sharon MacDougall, owner of <a target="_blank" href="http://www.remoteworkforceconsultants.com/">Remote Workforce Consultants</a>, a California-based firm that specializes in outfitting home offices. &ldquo;They&rsquo;re not only one of the top workplace injuries, they also result in prolonged absenteeism and costly lost productivity.&rdquo; And the problems are getting worse.</p> <p>CIO.com reported that repetitive strain injury cases <a target="_blank" href="http://www.cio.com/article/381964/Microsoft_Repetitive_Strain_Injury_is_Costing_Businesses">jumped over 30%</a> from 2008 to 2009. They estimated the cost to US businesses at over $600 Million in lost productivity &mdash; not to mention the debilitating pain to affected employees. CIO pointed to Microsoft research that revealed &ldquo;the rapidly emerging trend of mobile working, and increased usage of laptops and mobile devices is behind this alarming climb in work-related injuries and spiraling costs to businesses.&rdquo;</p> <p>What&rsquo;s more, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median time away from work for a repetitive stress injury is more than double that of the average injury (18 days compared to 8 days). It&rsquo;s no wonder. Over a 40-year career, a typical office worker spends more than seven years staring at a computer screen and banging on a keyboard.</p> <p>According to MacDougall, common problems that result from incorrect seating and orientation to work tools include:</p> <ul> <li>Head and neck ache due to constant leaning forward;</li> <li>Back pain due to unnatural hunching;</li> <li>Breathing and digestive problems that result from organ compression due to slouching;</li> <li>Poor circulation due to an incorrect angle between thigh and lower leg.</li> </ul> <p>So, straighten up and pay attention to these tips for how to sit, scroll, see and stretch your way to a pain free future.</p> <h3>Sit</h3> <ul> <li>One size definitely does not fit all when it comes to office chairs. Choose one that allows you to adjust the angle and position of the backrest, the armrest height and position, and the seat height, angle and depth.</li> <li>Avoid chairs with a hard edge under your knees.</li> <li>Find one with a non-slip and breathable fabric.</li> <li>In terms of how you sit, think right angles for your arms and legs and straight lines for your back, neck, wrists and feet.</li> <li>Place your feet flat on the floor or on an angled footrest if that&rsquo;s more comfortable.</li> <li>Your chair should be positioned to create an angle of about 105 degrees between your torso and thighs. The back of your legs should not be pinched by the edge of the chair.</li> <li>Adjust the armrests to support your arms when using the keyboard or mouse.</li> <li>Relax. Actively pay attention to the muscles you&rsquo;re using when you&rsquo;re typing. If your shoulders are tense, find a position that allows them to relax. If you&rsquo;re holding your arms up, even slightly, find a way to support them. Even something as simple as hovering your fingers over the mouse and keyboard can eventually cause a repetitive stress injury. Pay particular attention to keeping those shoulders and neck muscles relaxed when you&rsquo;re under stress.</li> <li>If you find yourself <em>vulture-necking</em>, adjust your lighting, screen distance or glasses to keep you from craning forward.</li> <li>If you use more than one screen, be sure to position them at equal distances with one positioned directly in front of you. Try to keep the active window on the screen in the center. Be careful not to lean in the direction of the second screen when you&rsquo;re using it for extended periods.</li> </ul> <h3>Scroll</h3> <ul> <li>Think Goldilocks when choosing a mouse. You want one that&rsquo;s comfortable in your hand &mdash; not too big, not too small, but just right.</li> <li>Place the mouse as close your keyboard as possible, you shouldn&rsquo;t have to reach for it &mdash; remember the right angle for your elbow.</li> <li>Position the mouse in a way that allows you to keep your wrist and fingers in a straight line.</li> <li>Choose a mouse that allows you to set the scrolling speed and sensitivity.</li> <li>Set the sensitivity so that you can rest you hand on the mouse without causing it to click.</li> <li>Replace common mouse functions with keypad shortcuts.</li> <li>Choose a keyboard with a light touch. Avoid pounding.</li> <li>Position your keyboard so that allows you to type with your arms in a relaxed position, preferably resting on the desk with your elbows at right angles.</li> <li>Pay careful attention to how your wrist sits on the desk when you&rsquo;re mousing and keyboarding. Avoid resting it on the edge of the desk. A wrist rest may help, but be careful to choose one that doesn&rsquo;t increase the angle of your wrist.</li> <li>Some people find a track pad to be a good alternative to a mouse, but all the same ergonometric rules apply.</li> </ul> <h3>See</h3> <ul> <li>The top of your computer screen should be at eye level and 15 to 27 inches from your eyes.</li> <li>If you wear reading glasses, you may want to use a lower magnification than you use for reading to account for the relatively longer distance. By the way, if you&rsquo;re over 40 and not wearing reading glasses, you&rsquo;re likely kidding yourself.</li> <li>Avoid bifocals as they will encourage you to tip your neck back when you&rsquo;re looking at the screen. Avoid wearing your glasses low on your nose for the same reason.</li> <li>Avoid any direct drafts on your eyes. If they&rsquo;re dry or they tear excessively (oddly, a symptom of dryness), use artificial tears.</li> <li>Refocus your eyes every half hour or so by looking at a distant object.</li> <li>Your lighting should ensure that there are no excessive shadows or glare on your monitor or work area. Overhead lighting should be diffused.</li> <li>Use a document holder to keep what you&rsquo;re working on in the same plane as your monitor. Use task lamps to illuminate paperwork without creating screen glare.</li> <li>Try to keep the text of what you read the same size. Switching between a document viewed at 150% and 100% or between a 10 point and 14 point type size is hard on the eyes.</li> <li>Adjust the brightness and contrast on your monitor to your own comfort, but avoid the extremes.</li> <li>Choose a monitor with good resolution. Huge screens are great but monitors bigger than 19&rdquo; compromise clarity.</li> <li>Remember that as the sun angle changes, you may need to close the blinds to avoid screen glare.</li> </ul> <h3>Squirm and Stretch</h3> <ul> <li>The human body was not designed to sit for long periods. Experts recommend you take 5-10 minute breaks every hour and longer breaks (15 to 30 minutes) every 3-4 hours of sitting. Even just a bit of squirming or changing from an inclined to reclined position can help relieve the strain.</li> </ul> <p>Typing this article required more than five thousand keystrokes. That&rsquo;s the metacarpal equivalent of a 2 mile run, on my tiptoes! Gotta go, it&rsquo;s time for my walk.</p> <p>Additional resources:</p> <ul> <li><a target="_blank" href="http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/computerworkstations/positions.html">OSHA&rsquo;s Visual aids and guidelines</a> for proper ergonomic seated and standing positions;</li> <li>Mayo Clinic&rsquo;s primer on <a target="_blank" href="http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/stretching/WL00030">office stretching</a>;</li> <li>The National Institute of Health's <a target="_blank" href="http://dohs.ors.od.nih.gov/ergo_computers.htm">guide for computer workstation</a> users.</li> </ul> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kate-lister">Kate Lister</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/office-ergonomics-lessons-learned-from-physical-therapy">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/250-tips-for-small-business-owners">250+ Tips for Small Business Owners</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-depressing-jobs-that-arent-worth-the-money">10 Depressing Jobs That Aren&#039;t Worth the Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-best-jobs-for-working-moms-and-dads">6 Best Jobs for Working Moms and Dads</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-career-tips-you-wish-you-could-give-your-younger-self">7 Career Tips You Wish You Could Give Your Younger Self</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-things-that-really-annoy-hiring-managers">9 Things That Really Annoy Hiring Managers</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Career and Income Small Business Resource Center ergonomics office furniture posture preventing office injuries repetitive stress injuries small business workers comp Thu, 14 Apr 2011 01:20:35 +0000 Kate Lister 519873 at http://www.wisebread.com