If you’ve watched the spine-chilling Thai horror movie Shutter, I’m sure you recall the scene where the protagonist discovered that the cause of his chronic neck ache was the ghost of a girl that he had wronged perching on his neck for sweet revenge. Fortunately for us, this does not ring true in real life because the reason behind our aches and pains are more physical than supernatural. Through an email interview, Dr Gary Tho – founder and practicing chiropractor of Chiropractic Works – kindly sheds some light on the matter of the subject.
Causes for Concern
Five of the most common pain problems that he sees in his clinic include:
– Neck and shoulder pain
– Back pain
– Knee pain
– Slipped disc
Sound familiar? Many, including myself, point fingers at ageing as the reason behind nagging aches and pains, but Dr Tho points out that the actual factors that contribute to those pains are:
– Prolonged sitting
– Prolonged use of computers
– Constant use of tablets and smartphones (to clear emails on the go, for social media, etc)
– High stress and pressure
– Poor posture while sitting, standing, walking, sleeping or lifting.
– Poor form when exercising
Social Media Generation
Patients who visit Dr Tho’s clinic are mainly from the 35 to 55 year-old age group, but he noticed that the number of patients in their twenties are on the rise.
Our dependence on our mobile devices has become a necessary evil, consuming at least a whopping 4 hours of our day whenever we fill our free time with everything from Facebook to Instagram to Whatsapp to replying emails on the go. The action of lowering our heads every time we scroll through our mobile devices is known as the “Forward Head” posture. According to Dr Tho, being in this posture repeatedly causes early wear and tear due to the loss of the natural neck curve. He states a recent study by Kenneth Hansraj – a leading spinal surgeon – where the lower the head goes, the heavier the head weight becomes, causing tremendous stress on the neck. This results in degeneration and the infamous stiffness, aches, and pain that we are all too familiar with.
To relieve the weight of the world on your shoulders, Dr Tho suggests these simple steps:
– Set your desk and computer up ergonomically. Ensure the eyes are level with the top of any screen.
– Place smartphones and tablets at an angle to reduce hunching.
– Ideally take a break every 15-20 minutes from using a smartphone, every 30-40 minutes from using tablets, and every hour from using computers.
– Learn posture correction stretches to help offset the constant accumulation and stress of poor posture.
Learn how to sit in a good posture:
– Take your wallet out of your back pocket. Rest the feet flat on the floor. Level knees with or slightly lower than your hips. Legs should not be crossed.
– Sit on or slightly forward on your sitting bones. Imagine your pelvis as a bowl of water, and you are pouring out the water in the forward direction. Sit the buttock all the way back into the chair.
– As you are seated, maintain the same lower back arch you have while standing. Once you have completed step 2, lean back on the backrest and imagine stacking your spinal bones right on top of each other (vertically).
– Lift your torso and create a long neck. This activates the core and decompresses the spine.
– Shoulders should be relaxed by your sides. Shoulder blades should fall back and down.
Now that we are fully certain that ghosts are not the cause of your chronic back aches, Dr Tho further advised that pain is an alarm bell, and should not be ignored. For desk-bound guys who wish to have a more in-depth view on the matter, grab his latest book The Pain Free Desk Warrior – No More Aches And Pains that will be out in stores soon*.
You can find Dr Gary Tho at Chiropractic Works located at 360 Orchard Road, #05-10, International Building, Singapore 238869. You can contact the clinic at +65 733 4439, or visit the website at www.drgarytho.com
*Subject to change