Oh our modern world! So many great technologies and conveniences are emerging each day. It seems, as our lives get easier our posture suffers. Bad posture might just seem like something that only annoying grade school teachers point out, but over time it can lead to pain and possible serious misalignments and expensive doctor's bills. To get more insight on this topic, I spoke with New York City based yoga teacher, Shevy Katan, who offers these simple adjustments we can make to keep injuries and pain at bay.
We don't have to look too far to see a person hunched over with their chin pulled to their chest texting away on their phone (even your beloved naturopath is guilty of this). The problem, according to Shevy, is that this creates an over-articulation in the cervical spine, leading to a whole host of problems; herniated disks, pinched nerves, migraines, and back pain. Also this weakened posture may limit air to the lungs, which can be linked to heart disease and depression. So should we stop "liking" things on Facebook? We don't have to go that far! Shevy suggests lifting your device to meet you, not the other way around. We can drop our eyes to read without moving our head at all. She adds that it is important to check our posture and take regular breaks. We can lift our head up and take in the life that is happening all around us not just on the tiny screen.
Heavy Purse Syndrome
How often do we find ourselves schlepping grocery bags, laptops, and purses containing our entire medicine cabinet all over this city? Perhaps some of us have everything delivered, but for the rest of us this heavy weight on one shoulder can leave us a little lopsided. Overtime, Shevy states, this can cause imbalance in the muscles around the spine, pinched nerves, back pain and for some headaches. To prevent this, she says we need to pay attention to which shoulder we tend to favor when we carry our bags. Then try to regularly switch arms and if possible let our bag rest on the ground. We can also plan ahead on shopping days. Shevy recommends getting a rolling bag for grocery shopping, which will take your shoulders out of the equation, or taking breaks and slowly rolling our shoulders back 5-8 rotations and then repeat in the forward direction.
"Picked Something Up" Back Pain
Unfortunately, most of us don't pay attention to how we do our daily activities, especially when lifting heavy objects like water cooler jugs and toddlers. According to Shevy, the more we do these things, the more we form certain habits in our bodies usually in the form of favoring one shoulder arm, hip or leg over the other. As a result we create an imbalance. As she said before, we need to start to switch things up if we are favoring one side over the other. We also want to be more mindful when doing housework. Shevy proposes bending our knees and using the strength of our legs to pick up laundry or something heavy off the ground rather than bending from the waist. One thing she says that we definitely want to avoid is twisting while carrying something heavy as this can cause herniated disks and other back injuries. Instead, we want to turn our whole body around when tossing or placing something to the side.
Shevy Katan is a native New Yorker and has been teaching yoga since 2005. She has much gratitude for her teachers old and new and is humbled to have a small part in offering the yoga teachings of self-empowerment and liberation to her students. www.yogastageswithshevy.com