I don’t know about you but I really like to do as much as I can for my own health, then go see the experts who will do what I cannot do. I am a Chiropractor but I have my own Chiropractor, why? Because I KNOW how Chiropractic adjustment is necessary to activate my nervous system property so IT can control all there is about my body and I KNOW that in order to adjust myself, I have to relax the muscles I would be using to adjust myself and THAT is not possible.
Following is the main list of things I do based on what I have been seeing as ‘problems’ within my patient group, what I know as a Biomechanical expert and my training in Brain-based Neurology and Posture.
Please be aware that some conditions may be present which will make some of these recommendations not suitable for you. Pay close attention to if you feel pain- STOP, if you lose your balance, hold on to something to prevent a fall and if your instincts tell you to stop, STOP. Following are what I do and encourage my patients to do. With that said:…here we go!
1. Get in the habit of putting your tongue against the top of your mouth
- This forces your head to be centered on your neck! Yes unlike what you think, I hardly ever see a head that is nicely and symmetrically sitting on top of the neck vertebra and this shows on the X-ray the most!
2. When sitting on the toilet, do your neck stretching.
- See the video below for how to do it.
Other than the obvious, to increase range of motion, you have to understand that the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), part of the autonomic nervous system (ANS) that balances the functions of sympathetic nervous system (SNS) resides there. Okay so what does that mean? Functions of the body that you cant control, like increase movement in your intestine needed for digestion, stomach acid secretion, getting goose bumps, pupil dilation or constriction, blood pressure and more are controlled by your ANS and since one of the places PNS resides is in the neck area, you want to make sure it is in top shape. Prevention is the key and next time you think of your neck not being important, think again!!!
3. Get in the habit of standing so your pelvis is rocked up, you tuck under your pelvis. The reason you do this move regularly (keep reading I will tell you when I do this one throughout the day), is to activate the lower ab and force my lower ab muscles which are heavily ignored and the gluts (which get weak from too much sitting) to work together. Good posture and health depend on the antagonist and agonist muscles working together to keep the balance.
4. Every time I am brushing my teeth, that is twice a day for 2 minutes each time, I switch sides to stand on one leg vs the other AND I hold my tooth brush with my non-dominiant (ND) hand!! This has to do with Brain-based Neurology and Posture.
- So let me explain, you tuck under your pelvis as explained in the previous step, shift your weight to your right food and stand on your right leg while holding your toothbrush with your non-dominant hand (in my case my left hand). READ AGAIN so you get the visual.
- As you do this, you brush your teeth with your ND hand. This portion of the exercise changes the routine, signals something unusual to your brain which in turn alerts it, sort of boosts your energy which is what the brain does when exposed to new environment and things. This is called a change in physiology and I use similar methods when I need to change my energy level or my moods!!
- Now switch over and do the same thing on the other side.
5. When taking my shirt or dress off, as soon as I pull it off my head, I grab my WRIST (not fingers) and pull my arm out toward the ceiling as if I want to take it out of the socket, and while maintaining the distraction move, I bend my torso directly to the opposite side and do the same thing on the other side. The reason I do that has to do with the fact that our life style of sitting and using digital devices forces us to a forward flexion and shortening of the front of the body muscles and weakening of the extensor muscles in the back of the body. This moves stretches the tight ligaments and compressed shoulder joints.
**I am seeing a lot of shoulder tendon tears in non-athletes and contribute it to our rolled shoulders.
6. Tuck under your pelvis every time you face a counter. That means every time you wash your hands or stand at a kitchen counter or at the office, facing a printer or someone else’s table, do tuck under. BTW, this is what I was referring to in step 3 and explained the reason for!
7. Get in the habit of tucking under, squeezing your gluts mildly and rocking back and forth when talking to people!!!!
- Tucking under does not mean your torso moves forward, tucking your tommy in, or bending your knees. It is very subtle. The rocking back and forth while talking to someone does not have to be super obvious. You do it anyway by leaning to one side vs the other. You don’t believe me, start looking for it and you will see!
- Did you know once something hits the critical mass, it becomes the norm? and as far as I know critical mass is only 13% (maybe it has changed by now) but let’s do this and make this become the norm!
8. When talking to people, if not using your hands, pretend your elbows are bent and by you and you are trying to turn your SHOULDERS out as if you want to push your hands backward. With the shoulder joint being a ball and socket joint, this will allow the ball part of your arm to move inside the socket part of your torso where it sits. This is a movement that most desk workers hardly get to do!
9. When you sit on a chair leisurely, put your ankle on the opposite knee and do a figure 8 move, reinforced by your hand while the other hand attempts to distract the ankle joint. We are on our feet a lot, either sitting or standing- not much moving. The joint is too compressed and this move, relieves it to some degree. Your feet are so crucial to the movement of your body.
10. Get in the habit of going barefoot as often as you can. The bottom of your feet provide valuable sensory information to your brain which is super important in your balance and coordination.
11. Start humming, singing or whistling!!!! This stimulates the nuclei of the Vagas nerve, your tenth cranial nerve which is in charge of your diaphragmatic movement. The better it moves, the deeper you breath, the more oxygen you take, the happier your brain feels, the better it functions, the healthier you get!!!!
12. Sit on an air cushion at work!!! You put that over your chair; it is not a stable surface so the brain has to constantly try to balance you even though it is not an effort obvious to us. The micro stimulation of the brain activates the PMRF (Ponto-medullary-reticular-formation) which incidentally is where Vegas nerve nucleus resides. This part of the midbrain is where the command to stand/sit up straight comes from. The more the brain is activated positively, the more positive neuroplasticity it will have.
13. Be smart and don’t pack your stapler, calculator, calendar or whatever else you have on your desk close to you. This will force you to get up to get whatever it is and adds more variety to your day.
14. Set your timer on your phone to alert you to get up every hour. Not 90 minutes, not 80 minutes, not 70 minutes (you get it?). Get up and go drink some water, fill up your water bottle drink half of it right there, refill and walk back to your work. Promise, you will be getting up soon because all that water has to come out!!
15. You are about to sit down because you set your timer, plus you had to urinate, NOW, you stand at your desk, open up your arms, and look up at the sky as comfortably as you can. I call this “Praise the Sun’. This activates the PMRF, stimulating your brain to send the command to give you a better upright posture.
16. When you get home, get in the habit of sitting on the floor, leaning against the front of your couch over a thin pillow or cushion. This will allow the hamstrings, quads and hip flexors to stretch and believe me, they are super exhausted from how much sitting you did all day behind that desk!!! Those muscles are important in the health of your back.
- Did you know that the nerves exiting your spine in the lower back region control the function of the intestine, Prostate/testes OR Uterus/ovaries, and your bladder too. So what happens if those nerves are irritated (not talking about pinched here). You would not even know you had the irritation because there is no pain necessarily associated with irritation!!
These are simple things you can do throughout the day that take away some of the damage from our ‘plastic’ and ‘sedentary’ daily routines. We are the Designer and the Director of our own lives so let’s design and direct it the way we wish to live it.