The cartoon below reminds be both of my job as an ergonomist and of my job as a posture therapist.
The ergonomist works mainly with companies (B2B). For many of them, improving working conditions takes time and energy. However, in thinking so they forget future gains in terms of productiviy, quality, motivation, lower absenteeism, etc.
The posture therapist works more with private people (B2C). He also meets many who believe that they lack the time (or the energy, or both) to think about the new behaviours that they need to repeat in order to anchor new habits. In doing so, they also ignore future gains in health, quality of life, performance (e.g., in sports), and even energy and immunity as several clients of ours reported.
Hence, yes: we always have other priorities than to correct an unhealthy state of things, which violates the laws of physics and anatomy. But do we really have a choice when we are not the ones who set the rules?
A recurring question usually comes when I train office workers: what is the right distance to the desk when sitting? The picture below illustrates 3 situations that I will comment below: at the right distance, a bit too close, much too close.
On this website as well as on our Facebook page, I tend to post more scientific than opinion papers. However, an article named How the Back Pain Industry is Taking Patients for a Dangerous Ride has come to my attention this week, and it is worth sharing it. The authors Danielle Venton and Jon Brooks make there a few important points:
A strict adherence to our "hands off paradigm" is key to being able to provide distance treatment for postural disorders.
"Text neck" is an umbrella concept to describe the neck (and head) symptoms of those spending too much time on their smartphone (typically to write text messages). The March 2017 issue of the Spine Journal rings the alarm bell: practitionners notice an increase in the prevalence of the issue.
We absolutely agree on the fact that mobile screen devices (smartphones, tablets, etc.) are a health hazard. Our main and most effective recommendation is therefore to limit their usage time. One way to do so is to call rather than to text, another one is to send vocal messages (e.g., via Whatsapp) rather than to type. Teenagers need particular attention from adults in this respect.
Once this is done, it is indeed true that raising the phone helps avoiding a forward head posture. However, holding the phone at eye level may also create strain in the neck and shoulders area. Hence, placing the phone on an elevated surface (e.g., shelf), inclined if possible, is surely a healthier option.
Finally, a good body awareness will help you keeping the neck aligned: make sure that your thoracic spine is not rounded, that your shoulders are not pushed forward, and that you keep your chin drawn slightly inwards. It will also help you slowing down when your body tells you it has enough...
Many people and companies purchase office chairs without really knowing how to recognize good ones from less good ones. Let's have a look at what field experience teaches us.
First of all, never buy a chair without testing it: online, everything looks beautiful and comfortable. Secondly, there is a difference between buying a chair for one person and buying a chair for a population. If you buy it for one employee, the chair may be less adjustable, as long as it is the right size! If you buy it for a population, it needs to fit a wider range of morphologies. Hence, the adjustment ranges may need to be larger. These technical specifications will help you choose a chair for a population.
Bear in mind that the more adjustment possibilities, the bigger the risk that it is not adjusted properly. One may rightfully ask whether more is always better. On the video below, you will discover the usual adjustments possibilities of a good office chair.
Next, let's see the usual flaws of many chairs on the market:
An office chair will last for many years (8-10). If you have the cash (400-800€), I advise you to buy a good one: the real monthly cost is actually quite low. Some shops also offer reconditioned or used quality office chairs, which are often a better deal than a new cheap chair.
Many brands are on the market. Here are two recommendations:
For the last 10 years we have been giving numerous conferences and workshops. More often than not, participants asked why we were not intervening in primary schools to teach children early on. Today we are officially launching a pilot project in Switzerland to achieve this. It was time: a large number of teenagers already suffer neck and shoulder pain, before even entering the job market! [...]
A study published this year in the JAMA describes the evolution of the healthcare costs in the US since 1996. The results are clear: "spending on diabetes, ischemic heart disease, and low back and neck pain account for the highest amounts of spending by disease category".
A new research article investigated the link between "sitting upright" (a concept to be more clearly defined) and psychological state:
“Compared to sitting in a slumped position, sitting upright can make you feel more proud after a success, increase your persistence at an unsolvable task, and make you feel more confident in your thoughts,” Dr. Broadbent explained. "Research also suggests that sitting upright can make you feel more alert and enthusiastic, feel less fearful, and have higher self-esteem after a stressful task.”
The clinical practice indeed often shows a strong psychological impact of posture therapy. [...]
Dr. Vera Baadjou (university of Maastricht, the Netherlands) has been granted a prestigious award for a scientific study that was designed and performed in close cooperation with the TIPM and Mrs. Ans Samama: she will receive the Alice G. Brandfonbrener Young Investigator Award at the June 2017 conference of the Performing Arts Medicine Association.
The Presto project aims at measuring the health impact of a prevention program based on the "Mensendieck 3.0 method". The target population consists of conservatory musicians in the Netherlands. The intervention program is compared to a traditional physical activity program.
Participating in such projects shows our commitment to reinforcing the scientific documentation of the mechanisms and benefits of posture therapy.
In 2016 I have been approached by 3 patients that I had never met in person: one in Paris and two in New York. All three suffered musculosekeletal disorders (neck pain, lower back pain and elbow pain respectively). They wanted to be treated by the TIPM Mensendieck therapy but could not travel to Lausanne (Switzerland).
Their medical diagnosis was requested beforehand, and we tried individual treatment by Skype. After a few months, the conclusion is clear: they are now doing well. [...]
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