Dr. Cheryl McFarland-Bryant, Better Health, 12/18/12

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Repetitive stress: Strengthen and straighten up

In this age of technology, the modern workplace involves more sitting and less activity than ever before. Our new work habits cause repetitive stress/strain injuries the medical model has been slow to recognize, treat and prevent.

This is the No. 1 work-related injury in North America, and it is definitely preventable.

Poor posture and inactivity are the two factors in repetitive stress, preventable with better posture and a few other adjustments.

The benefits of better posture for fibromyalgia and spinal arthritis include a better quality of life with less pain. Poor posture is also a major factor in these conditions.

Your body is an incredibly designed machine. Joints, tendons, ligaments and muscles hold your body erect and allow motion. They must also support the weight of your head, which for the average male weighs 14 to 15 pounds, and for a female weighs 10 to
12 pounds.

When the body is hunched over a keyboard for prolonged periods, the body malfunctions and breaks down.

When sitting at a desk or in a car, we tend to sit in a large, C-shaped spinal position with our heads jutting forward. We tend to round our shoulders and slouch our lower back.

This position leverages the head forward, putting undue force on the body and causing spinal joints to misalign, muscles and ligaments to become inflamed and nerves to become irritated. When this process is repeated again and again, debilitating injuries can occur.

Long periods of inactivity cause the muscles to lose tone, so they are not prepared for such misuse. The muscles and ligaments become deconditioned. This contributes to or causes fibromyalgia and spinal osteoarthritis. Signs of these injuries are headaches, neck pain and tight, sore shoulder blades and mid- and lower-back pain.

To avoid these problems, sit up straight and get up to move frequently.

Once you already have these problems, chiropractic and specific core-strengthening exercises are the best treatment. A doctor of chiropractic can perform a history and spinal exam, including an X-ray to check for chronic posture problems and the resulting spinal arthritis or fibromyalgia. We can then prescribe tailored exercises and corrective adjustments to strengthen and straighten the spine, which will, in time, lessen or alleviate the associated aches and pains, provided you do your part to sit up straight and get up frequently.

For advanced spinal degeneration, I recommend computerized decompression and gentle, specific chiropractic adjustments. This treatment uses instruments with controlled low-force techniques of activator and arthrostim, which are guaranteed not to break even osteoporotic bones when used correctly.

Contact Dr. Cheryl McFarland-Bryant at 352-795-8911 or visit 6166 W. Gulf-to-Lake Highway, Crystal River, or www.crystalriverchiropractic.com.