Mary Schatz, M.D.

Question and Answers with Mary Schatz, MD

Featured Question:

Q: I work for many hours a day at my computer. As a result, I suffer from a really sore upper back and tight shoulder muscles. It is so painful, sometimes I can barely turn my head. Can you please suggest some poses I can do that will help?

Lynn T.,   Nashville, TN

A:  First, observe how you are sitting when the pain starts.

Are you hunched down and peering into your screen? Is your head hanging over your chest? Are your shoulders rounded in toward your breastbone?

If so, you are suffering from Computer Hunch.

Ideally, your head should be balanced on top of your spine so that its weight is borne by the strong solid bodies of your vertebrae. (Imagine a stack of neatly stacked spools with a bowling ball on the top).

But in Computer Hunch Posture you are requiring your neck and upper back muscles to hold your bowling ball head up against the pull of gravity for hours on end.  No wonder they create pain to try to get your attention and thereby some Computer Relief !!

It is just for your situation that I created the iPhone Application YogaMD's Computer Relief and wrote Back Care Basics Chapter 9 "Rounded Upper Back, Forward Head Posture and Neck Pain".

Using the Computer Relief Application you will learn simple and easy yoga-based exercises to do at your computer and in your workspace so that you can undo Computer Hunch Posture and reboot yourself back toward a more balanced and erect posture.

Computer Relief also has a section emphasizing proper ergonomic placement of your monitor and keyboard to help alleviate neck and shoulder strain.

The YogAlert feature of the App will remind you to stop a few moments and do an exercise. You will be amazed at how much you have slumped into your Computer Hunch in just a few minutes. You will be delighted at how much better you feel every time you reboot yourself back to your upright posture. Start with a YogAlert every 15 minutes and adjust the timing from there until you find a comfortable interval for your work pace.

ALSO, be restless!! Take a walk down the hall or around your work area at least once an hour. This will help your circulation, relieve your strained eyes and tight muscles, and give you something new to look at and think about for a few moments. Think of it as a mini-R&R for your brain and body.

For a more comprehensive and in depth corrective approach to Computer Hunch Posture in addition to YogaMD Computer Relief, work on the yoga poses in Back Care Basics Chapter 9 "Rounded Upper Back, Forward Head Posture and Neck Pain".

ALSO CHECK YOUR GLASSES!

Traditional reading glasses usually do not have the correct focal length for seeing the computer monitor well. This causes you to need to lean your head closer to see. You may need a pair of what I call "computer bifocals" with the top part of each lens set for the monitor screen distance and the lower section set for traditional reading glass focal length.

- Mary Schatz, M.D.

WHERE TO START:

If you suffer from the aforementioned issues, you can find helpful poses, information and relief from Dr. Schatz's recommendations below:

1. YogaMD Computer Relief App

2. Back Care Basics

  • Chapter 9 "Rounded Upper Back, Forward Head Posture and Neck Pain."
  • Chapter 4 ''Assessing Your Flexibility and Alignment.''
  • Evaluation of Thoracic Curve p 42, illustrations 4.7, 4.8.
  • Evaluation of Shoulder Roundedness and Shoulder Blade Position p 42 continued on p 44, illustrations 4.9A, 4.9B, 4.10, 4.11.
  • Evaluation of Shoulder Flexibility  p 50, 51, illustrations  4.22, 4.23, With Note on Poses to emphasize p 51.
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