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Commuting, and Your Spine Issues!

Image result for nj transit train


Technology, it's wonderful, right!? In most cases, yes, technologicaladvancement is wonderful, but what are some disadvantages to our wonderful toys?


Before I begin, I want you to understand that I myself own a cell phone, tablet, and laptop, and I use them daily. This is by no means an article against cellular phones, or technology. However, I do want you to think about the time you spend on your devices, and I have some suggestions that will improve your quality of life while allowing you to enjoy texting, emailing, and watching videos during your morning commute. 


While riding the train into Penn Station yesterday, I was looking around the maxed out rail cart at all the extra-happy commuters faces. There are roughly 100 or more individuals riding on the same cart, and about 98% of these individuals were on their cell phones, tablets, or laptops. You may ask, "What's wrong with that, Chris?" And I would reply, "Absolutely nothing, for a short period of time."


Most commuters spend the entire ride looking down at their device, not holding the device at eye level. Why is this a big deal? POSTURE. That's right, your posture is severely affected by the time you spend "hunched" over looking at your device. Not to mention the ligamentous "creep" you feel from remaining in the same position for more than 20 minutes, but that is another blog all together. Let's look at some statistics:


- The #1 and #2 complaint individuals have about the musculoskeletal system is neck and back pain... ever wonder why? 


- 31 million Americans experience low-back pain at any given time. (i)


- Most back problems are mechanical; meaning they are not caused by serious conditions, such as arthritis, an infection, fractures, or cancer.


- Americans spend at least $50 billion each year on back pain. (ii)


Wow! $50 billion is a lot of moola to spend on back pain, and most doctors will treat the pain with some type of addictive opioid, not cool.


So, what does this have to do with your commute? 



Most people on the train are not sitting upright like the gentleman in the picture to the right, they are bending forward looking at their device. This has a major effect on your musculoskeletal system, and repetition of these actions, over time, will lead to chronic pain, and you will find yourself a part of the $50 billion statistic. 


Typically, the posture I notice on my commute is a forward head and rounded/forward shoulders. This position is key to avoid for extended periods of time if you wish to maintain a healthy back, neck, and shoulder girdle.


Also, think about oxygen deliverability to your muscles while in this position. Do me a favor, sit up really straight and take a nice, long, deep breath... pretty easy to accomplish, correct? Now, lean forward like you're looking at your device, and remember you slump further and further over as time passes, now try to take in a deep breath. Did you struggle? Right! This posture also affects your breathing and the ability for your heart to pump blood throughout your body! Something to think about huh? 

How can you avoid forward head and rounded shoulder posture?


For one, sit upright during your commute, and throughout the remainder of the day. Don't spend the entire commute looking down at

your phone.


Stand up and move every 20 minutes. This will prevent tightness in your muscles and ligaments. It will also make you more limber for the sprint you will take when trying to beat everyone to the subway! 


Remain Active! Exercise is a great way to maintain posture. If you are unsure about exercise programs, and want assistance, contact PT by CV today!


Please like and share the article with friends! 


Thank you for your time, feel free to contact Chris with any questions!




i. Jensen M, Brant-Zawadzki M, Obuchowski N, et al. Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Lumbar Spine in People Without Back Pain. N Engl J Med 1994; 331: 69-116.


ii. In Project Briefs: Back Pain Patient Outcomes Assessment Team (BOAT). In MEDTEP Update, Vol. 1 Issue 1, Agency for Health Care Policy and Research, Rockville, MD.


This article was provided by PT by CV
For more information on PT by CV, check out their full profile here.
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