First, I’d like ot start by saying that in recent years, my general fitness has decreased, partially due to this blog. Yes, you read that right. Time in front of your computer, like all things, isn’t beneficial when done in excess. Fortunately, because of a few changes I made a few months ago, I’ve started feeling better again.
Now, before anyone starts blaming blogging, let me say this: The problem isn’t blogging specifically, it’s sitting in front of a screen all day long! Since running [GAS] has become more of a second job for me than a hobby, I really do invest a significant amount of time in the site. And yes, that’s apart from my 35-hour-a-week “regular” work schedule. So this mean that in a normal week, I spend around 50 to 60 hours staring at my monitor. It’s really started messing with my health.
For almost half of 2008, I experienced the following almost daily:
- Back pain
- Chronic fatigue
- Weight gain
Since I was always tired and in pain, nearly everything I did felt like a hassle. So in September 2008, I decided that I just couldn’t take it anymore. That’s when I decided to go and see the doctor. Fortunately, this doctor was kind of different from the type I usually see. He didn’t prescribe me any pills, but instead told me I should go to see a physiotherapist. I accepted, and this changed my life.
On my first rendezvous, the physiotherapist took a look at my general posture. He brought me in front of a mirror, and showed me how my back, shoulders and neck were hunching. He had me feel a bump on my spinal cord at the bottom of my neck. He explained this was due to my time in front of the computer, and was common in office workers. He went on to say that If I didn’t correct my posture soon, the crooked discs in my spinal tap would eventually fuse together, and my hunching would likely become permanent.
The only thing I had to do to improve my situation was to learn how to sit properly and do a simple neck extension, which I do daily.
Normally, your neck should follow a straight vertical line with your back. If you notice your neck tilting forward, you may suffer from upper back and shoulder pain (a problem called “The Forward Head“), and this simple exercise may help you. Please note that I’m no specialist, and before doing this exercise, you should consult a physiotherapist or doctor in order to verify that it’s safe for you.
The stretch is named the dorsal glide. Here’s how you can do it.
- Stand up straight while looking in front of you
- Bring your shoulders a bit back while tucking your chin in
- Slowly extend your neck upward and hold 10 seconds
- Relax 10 seconds
- Repeat 10 times
If you feel pain during the exercise, it probably means you’re stretching your neck too much. The only thing you are supposed to feel is resistance, not pain.
Please note that people should ALWAYS keep their chin tucked in slightly. It is the healthy way to keep your head resting on top of your shoulders.
After showing me this exercise, my doctor prescribed me a simple, $20 orthopedic cushion to position on my lower back for when sitting down in front of the computer. This forces me to keep a straight position at all times and prevents me from reclining completely on the back of my chair, which you should never do.
The result? Within a week, I had no more headaches, back pain or general fatigue. I know it may sound extreme, but this completely changed my life. I’m more patient with my kids and have more than enough energy to keep feeling good all day long. Two months ago, my wife and I bought a Stairmaster, and it motivated me to get active again. I’ve since lost 15 pounds, most of what I gained since I started blogging.
If someone would have told me last year that I could eliminate health problems by addressing my posture, I probably wouldn’t have believed them. But the proof is in the pudding. I feel good again.