Posture is the latest aspect of our day-to-day lives to suffer from the COVID-19 pandemic.
As many employees across the country enter month eight of working from home, the aches and pains of not having a proper place to work are beginning to become a real… well, pain.
While some people are fortunate enough to have a dedicated at-home office space, many others are left hunched over their laptops on the sofa or even the bed. Sitting cross-legged may have worked in elementary school, but as adults, these convoluted ways of sitting are causing aching knees, sore necks and stiff backs.
Ergonomic chairs exist for a reason.
This is a great opportunity for chiropractors to reach new patients. There are plenty of ways employees can improve their at-home working conditions; prevention is key, but encourage them to seek you out if they’re starting to suffer with the consequences of bad posture. What better time to offer your services than when someone needs you the most?
“When we talk to our patients in chiropractic, it’s easy to get lost down a rabbit hole,” said Platinum coaching partner Mark Sanna. Sanna recently co-hosted a webinar with Platinum that discussed the link between posture and longevity. “Something we can all talk about that patients instantly get is posture. As I began unpacking posture and looking at the research, I became astounded at the support and research connecting posture and longevity. And the converse — poor posture and diminished longevity and quality of life.”
Here are five ways to share your message of healing.
1. Get it straight
Our parents were right when they told us to sit up straight. The way we sit and stand has an impact on more than just our appearance. While standing and sitting straight makes you appear confident, it also reduces stress on the spine and the surrounding muscles. It’s a big deal — bad posture can cause some nightmare health scenarios, like carpal tunnel syndrome, nerve compression, poor circulation, debilitating neck and back injuries, and even deep vein thrombosis.
When you sit and stand straight, your bones, ligaments, muscles, and joints become properly aligned.
The effect of posture on health is becoming more evident. Research by the American Journal of Pain Management has shown that spinal pain, headache, mood, blood pressure, pulse and lung capacity are among the functions most easily influenced by posture, according to Sanna.
Extended periods of poor posture are going to cause problems — that’s typically the point that a new patient will seek you out. Send a clear message that you can help relieve the pain caused by bad posture, and that you can provide support and education that prevents it from continuing.
When sitting at a desk, the key to sitting correctly is not to sit too straight — at least not all day. Reclining and relaxing your neck is better than craning it forward and will prevent stiffness. Your chair should recline 25-30 percent, allowing you to lean back.
Make sure to share with patients that it’s never too late to get healthy. If they’re already in pain from bad posture, share the plan of how you can align their spine and reduce pain.
2. Describe the ideal workspace
Provide patients with a roadmap to a posture-friendly work environment. Keep in mind folks who don’t have access to a home office. How can they sit at the dining room table and maintain a healthy posture? How can they avoid a stiff neck at the end of the work day? A simple recommendation is to change positions and get up and walk around every 30 minutes or so.
Create a branded diagram for your patients to download that shows exactly how their computer should be positioned, along with the feet and elbows.
Provide innovative ideas for how to align their computer correctly. For example, people can set their laptop on a stack of books or on a cardboard box to maintain proper alignment. They can also use a document holder beside the screen to avoid having to bend their neck down to read.
Other shareable tips include:
- Sit back in your chair, and make sure you have good low-back support. If it doesn’t, consider rolling up a towel to place behind your lower back or using a cushion
- Rest your feet flat on the floor. If you’re not tall enough, use a foot support like a stack of books, a foot rest, or even a box.
- Avoid turtle posture — hunching down over a laptop. Slouching compresses your guts and other organs, creating all kinds of havoc on your digestive system.
- Avoid forward head posture (more on that below)
Offer your patients a list of office chairs that you believe will provide the best support. This can be in the form of an email, social media, or a flyer.
3. Educate Your Patients About Anterior Head Posture
Research has shown that Anterior Head Posture, or forward head/neck posture, can add up to 30 pounds of pressure on the spine and reduce lung capacity by as much as 30 percent, which can lead to heart and blood vascular disease. For every 1 inch that the head moves forward, it increases the weight on the neck by 10 pounds. The typical forward neck posture of 3 inches increases the weight on the neck by 30 pounds and the pressure on the muscles six times, according to Sanna.
So instead of walking around with a 12 pound head, you’re basically walking around with a 42 pound head. And it’s hard to fix.
This is also called “tech neck.” And it trains our spine to bend our necks downwards. This can be exacerbated when working from home and looking down at screens.
Some common problems caused by tech neck include:
- Bulging spinal discs
- Ruptured discs
- A hard time looking up
- Pinched nerves
Communicate with prospective patients on social media how important it is to correctly align their spine and neck while they’re surfing the internet. They’ll appreciate the reminder as they’re caught in the act!
4. Get out of bed
The worst place to work from home is your bed. There are a number of reasons for this, and they’re not all physical. Psychologically, it’s bad for your mental health to stay in bed all day, even if you’re working. It erases the boundary between rest and work, making it both hard to focus on work and hard to relax and even sleep at night.
But from a spinal health perspective, it’s particularly bad. Working from your bed means you’re either sitting cross-legged or with your legs stretched out in front of you. That means you’ve got a double whammy of bad posture going on — bending down to look at your computer screen and lacking support for your lower back. If you absolutely can’t work anywhere else other than in your bed, invest in a low table — or use a cushion — and use a pillow to support your lower back.
Chiropractic research is turning more towards the connection between spinal health and brain function.
5. Get moving
Staying in one position for too long, even standing, is unhealthy. A recent NPR article suggests changing positions every time you switch a task. Suggest to your patients that they walk around while they’re talking on the phone, and to make sure they take breaks to stretch.
Too much sitting has actually been shown to shorten your life. The American Cancer Society studied 127,000 people over 21 years, and learned that prolonged periods of sitting affected cholesterol, triglycerides and other biomarkers of obesity.
Other tips to get moving that you can share with your patients include:
- Setting a timer that alerts you when it’s time to move.
- Watches that track your steps can also be set to alert you when it’s time to get moving.
- Don’t let an hour go by without moving around and changing positions
- Consider exercising during what would be your commute times
- Incorporate yoga into your daily routine
Movement can help mitigate all kinds of soreness. Even just simple stretching of your joints and moving your head around will help. As a chiropractor, this seems obvious to you, but it may not be to the general population. Offer your expertise and show them the way to optimal health.
Platinum Can Help
Our team at Platinum predicts that chiropractors will begin to see an increase in patients the longer the nation works from home. Prepare for this increase with a streamlined patient flow, simple check-in process and outreach to former and new patients.
Platinum offers a wide range of features and integrations that keep you organized and help you see more patients in less time.
To find out more, book a demo!