Wellness Articles

Cupping Provided by Vancouver Acupuncturist and RTCMP

You can see the tell-tale marks as more and more people sport large circular bruises on their bodies. You are starting to see them on athletes and celebrities in the media. Maybe you have noticed those marks peeking out of a friend or coworker’s shirt collar. What on earth are those marks, and why are people getting this done to their bodies?

“Cupping” is the name of this technique used to produce these marks and is an excellent method in the Traditional Chinese Medicine scope to help treat pain and facilitate healing. It uses small circular cups of various sizes applied strategically onto the skin with suction. The primary concept of this method is to increase local blood circulation to stimulate the local area and treat or prevent disease.

The lifting and stretching actions the cups have on underlying tissues help with breaking up stagnation to the channels/tissues, assist in draining excess fluid and cellular waste that may be trapped within the fibres causing tightness or inflammation, and invigorate the local areas with increased blood circulation to nourish and repair tissues.

It is interesting to to note only injured tissues or channels will show bruising with cupping. Healthy tissues may become pink or flushed with the vacuum-action, but that will fade very quickly after the cups are removed. Injured tissues, on the other hand, may show bruising ranging from bright red, brownish-red, purple, to even blackish-purple. The intensity of the colour often indicates the severity of the injury and will change over the course of several treatments (ie. darker bruising will eventually become lighter in colour and density with repeat treatments). The bruises typically take about 7-10 days to completely fade away, and during that time the skin may be tender. Massaging locally can ease the bruising, but no other special care is normally required after treatment.

Common applications for cupping include arthritis, chronic headaches, lumbago/lower back pain, shoulder pain, neck pain, and general muscle joint pain.

Those with infected, ulcerated or overly-sensitive skin, or edema should AVOID cupping. Pregnant women should also AVOID cupping over the abdominal or lumbosacral areas.

If you are interested to know if cupping is right for you, please contact Clarissa for more information at clow.vitality@gmail.com or call 604-687-7678 to book your appointment today!

Clarissa Low, RTCMP

 

Health Tips Provided by Vancouver Chiropractor and Naturopath

Everyone experiences poor sleep from time to time. Often it is occurs when the mind is overly preoccupied by a stressful situation and the insomnia can resolve itself when the stressor is removed or circumstantial conditions improve. However, some people suffer insomnia that persists regardless of major lifestyle and evening routine changes, and the goal to achieve deep, uninterrupted sleep seems to be an unending challenge.

How does TCM approach insomnia?

From a TCM perspective, insomnia is seen as a condition stemming from internal imbalances that affect the body’s ability to sleep soundly. In fact, TCM categorizes insomnia into 5 groups and identifies the heart, liver, spleen, stomach, kidneys, and gallbladder as the possible organs affected. The heart is the governing organ for the body’s spirit and mind, so not surprisingly, it is responsible for the more common forms of insomnia.

Each type of insomnia has its own set of distinctive symptoms that allows the TCM practitioner to determine which organs are affected and need balance restored.

1. Heart blood deficiency

For this type of insomnia, it is difficult to fall asleep, the person wakes up easily throughout the night, and frequently has many dreams. Physical symptoms may include heart palpitations, forgetfulness, weak limbs, pale complexion, dizziness, blurred vision, and/or sweating easily with minimal exertion.

2. Heart and Gallbladder qi deficiency

This type of insomnia is distinctive with the occurrence of many dreams while sleeping, being easily startled awake, and generally being easily frightened or timid. Physical symptoms may include heart palpitations throughout the day or night.

3. Heart and Kidneys miscommunication

This type of imbalance, aka water-fire disharmony, is understood as the heart and kidneys not working properly in tandem to balance the fire and water elements of the body. This form of insomnia manifests with irritability, brief periods of sleep but easily woken up, and heart palpitations with a sense of uneasiness. Physical symptoms may include dizziness, tinnitus, nocturnal emissions, night sweating, sore waist and knees, feverish chest, palms and feet, and/or dry mouth/throat.

4. Spleen and Stomach disharmony

This form of insomnia is typically seen as general poor sleep with a feeling of chest fullness, and/or focal distention (below the sternum). This disharmony between the spleen and stomach is usually linked to irregular/excessive eating.

5. Liver yang uprising

This form of insomnia exhibits itself as difficulty to fall asleep, with irritability, and tendency to get angry. Physical symptoms may include dizziness, rib pain, reddish eyes, bitter taste in the mouth, constipation, and/or reddish urine.

Treatment

Acupuncture can be an effective method to help correct the internal imbalances and help the body achieve better sleep. Different points are selected to address the specific type of insomnia and to help the body achieve normal sleep. Sometimes herbal formulas are also used to assist the body to normalize and calm the mind and spirit.

If you are experiencing insomnia, acupuncture and herbal formula may be suitable for you to help you achieve sound and restful sleep.
Good night and sweet dreams!
Clarissa Low, RTCMP

Tennis Stretches Provided by Vancouver Chiropractor

Summer is here! Gorgeous sunshine, elevated moods, beautiful and longer days.. what more do you need?! Unless, of course, this time of year also means playing tennis whenever you can. It’s been nearly 3 weeks now of sunshine and bliss and we have noticed every tennis court in Vancouver in use! This is so amazing and we are thrilled to see players out there exercising and enjoying themselves.

We have compiled this blog about common tennis injuries, what parts of your body are being utilized when playing, and what are some of the best stretches to perform before and after your match. Hopefully this will help you prevent injuries while playing tennis, aid with any existing ones, and help keep you on top of your game!

Anatomy of Tennis

Here is a short overview of tennis and what muscles are mainly involved. Tennis is a fast paced sport making extensive use of both the upper and lower extremities. It requires hand-eye coordination, spatial awareness, and keen agility.  Cardiovascular endurance and significant demands on the musculoskeletal system are both placed on the body during a game of tennis.

Muscles to stretch and condition…

Leg Muscles: quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, gastrocnemius and soleus (calf muscles)

Chest and upper body: pectoralis muscles, latissimus dorsi, and deltoids

Shoulder and arm muscles: rotator cuff, biceps, and triceps

Muscles of the forearm and hand

Lower back muscles: Spinal Erectors and the deep core muscles (multifidus and rotators)

Abdominal muscles: rectus abdominis, internal and external abdominal obliques

Neck muscles: neck extensor and flexors, levator muscle

 

Strength training and flexibility exercises targeting all of the above areas are essential for competitive players.  Tennis players are subject to a wide range of injuries, falling into the broad categories of “acute” and “overuse”.

Rotator cuff tendonitis

Tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis)

Strains and sprains of the wrist

Back pain

Anterior (front) knee pain frequently involving the knee cap

Calf strains

Achilles tendon injuries

Ankle sprains

Tennis toe

 

So what kind of stretching should you do?

STATIC stretching!  These are performed by extending a muscle until you feel tension and holding it for 45 ‘Mississippi’ seconds. Research has demonstrated static stretching performed after an activity is often more important to overall athletic performance over time than when done before exercise. My adage has always been to “stretch prior to activity to prevent injury and stretch after to enhance performance!”

But first… the warm up:

Jumping Jacks

Lunges

Squats

Burpies

Arm circles

Stretch your posterior chain muscles (low back, hamstrings, calves, etc) –extend your body into a downward dog pose. Downward Facing Dog Demonstrated by Vancouver Chiropractor

Stretch out your leg adductors- sit on the ground with one leg extended and the other leg bent with the sole of your foot near your extended inner thigh. Lean forward over your legs and breathe deep into your stomach. You should feel a stretch on the inside of the extended leg.

Hamstring and groin strains are common in tennis. Warming up the muscles first and then stretching them is an excellent way to prevent muscle strain while playing.

Our Top 3 Tennis Stretches

Stretching is one of the most under-utilized techniques for improving athletic performance, preventing sports injury, and properly rehabilitating sprain and strain injury. Please don’t make the mistake of thinking something as simple as stretching isn’t effective.

Below are 3 very beneficial stretches for tennis; there are a plethora more, but these are a great place to start.

1. Rotating Wrist Stretch: Place one arm straight out in front and parallel to the ground. Rotate your wrist down and outwards and then use your other hand to further rotate your hand upwards.

2. Yoga Mudra: This is a great stretch for the anterior shoulder, bicep, pectoralis, and back. Once seated on your heels, exhale, place your arms behind your back, and interlace the fingers together. Draw the shoulders away from the ears and squeeze the shoulder blades together to press out through the sternum. Inhale and arch the chest up towards the ceiling. Keep the chest open as you exhale and hinge at the hips, lowering the forehead down to the floor (optional). Lift the arms up as high as you can keeping the palms press together if possible.

mid back stretch demonstrated by Dr. Serne

3. Kneeling Heel-down Achilles Stretch: Kneel on one foot and place your body weight over your knee. Keep your heel on the ground and lean forward.

Have a great match!

Vitality Clinic

Are you one of the lucky ones looking forward to a much deserved holiday or extended travel? If you are, then congratulations and have an amazing trip! But if you are an individual who has a regular workout routine, chiropractor, or massage therapy treatments helping you to maintain your optimal health, consider planning ahead for the sudden change in your routine. Carrying luggage, sitting and waiting beforehand in the terminal or during your flight, and sleeping on a different mattress may aggravate an already existing ailment. Conditions such as piriformis syndrome, sacroiliac (SI) instability, sciatic pain, lower back, and knee pain. We put together a valuable list of tools you can easily incorporate into your journey to help keep you feeling fantastic!

Lower Back Support

Even if your flight is only a few hours in duration, sitting on the airplane can be uncomfortable and may aggravate ailments you already have; especially for the hips, lower back, and knees.

Sitting without support causes your lumbar spine to reverse it’s curve (slouch), adding compressive pressure to your sacrum and relevant joints. Your pelvis tilts posteriorly (backwards) and your hip flexors tighten into a shortened position. A lumbar support cushion will protect your spine by encouraging a proper posture. Otherwise, ailments like piriformis syndrome, sciatica, sacroiliac weakness, and hip flexor tendonitis will be aggravated and cause pain.

Before you take off, ask your chiropractor or massage therapist for a lower back support. They should be able to order you a proper fitting cushion.

Take Stretch Breaks

These days, unless you have a whole row to yourself, there is generally not enough room at your seat to properly stretch. If you’re on a long flight, please consider taking some time to stand up and implement some stretch breaks. Use the privacy and space of the washroom to stretch your hips and quads. Squat down to stretch your hips and grab an ankle at a time to stretch your hip flexors.

Sweat It Out

You may be exhausted from the travel but taking an hour to warm up your body once you have reached your destination is crucial. Additionally, if you are dealing with jet leg this is even more vital to your overall well-being. Exercise releases positive hormones that will help you feel great and boost your energy levels.

A cardiovascular workout will soften adhesions and loosen tight joints. A low impact workout like swimming, cycling, yoga, or treadmill walk are a few examples. If your destination does not provide a gym or yoga studio, using nature or hotel stairs can make for excellent substitutions!

Fascial Stretching

After working out, follow it up with this stretching program. Hold each stretch for 1-3 minutes and practice strong diaphragmatic breathing during each posture.

Wall Hamstring Stretch

Double Sided Spinal Twist

Piriformis Stretch

Hip Flexor and Quad Stretch

Abductor (Groin) and General Relaxation Stretch

Water

Stay hydrated! It can be tricky with security check points to always have water with you, but do you would being yourself a disservice if you didn’t bring your water bottle to fill after. You’ll be encouraged to finish it at each check point keeping you hydrated and energized.

Proper water intake will help with
• Immune support
• Decreasing fascial adhesions
• Increasing energy levels

If you can incorporate all these tips, or even most of them, you will certainly appreciate the benefits!

Happy Travels,
The Vitality Clinic Team

Why you might want to cut out caffeine from your daily routine…

If you are an avid coffee drinker then you know all too well of the comforting and alluring love affair that exists between you and your daily coffee. The comforting smell, powerful taste, and lest we forget- that poignant adrenaline punch it adds to your mornings and afternoons. How on earth would you ever get through the day without coffee? And a bigger question still, why should you have to? Don’t studies show that moderate coffee intake has been associated with everything from enhanced exercise performance to a lowered risk of heart disease?

The answer is yes, this beautiful bean can in fact do wonders! A high quality coffee bean can increase your metabolism, productivity, energy levels, antioxidant levels (and for some people… their personality). But in order to achieve these benefits coffee drinkers need a seriously high quality coffee free from any added sugars or creams, and consumed in moderate amounts. Really.. who does anything in moderation these days, and when coffee calls do you REALLY care where it comes from?

Good coffee is hard to come by!

It’s essential to pay attention to where the coffee was grown, when and where it was brewed, and what effort has gone into the growing process. A single cup of coffee can contain Vitamin B2, B5, Manganese, Potassium, Magnesium and Vitamin B3. Although the percentages of these are not very high, if you are drinking premium coffee then it is no wonder after a good cup of joe you look and feel better!

However, it is important the plant was grown in healthy soil and has been graded according to colour, taste, appearance, and size. The best quality beans come from suppliers who are specific and transparent in describing the origin of their beans. Labels and advertisements can be deceiving. So, if you are looking to justify your coffee habit with the health effects, please make sure you do your homework on the beans you are consuming.

Bad Coffee!

Regardless of the quality, excessive caffeine consumption can be a real problem. Even if you are closely limiting your daily coffee intake, you are still risking the unpleasant side effects capable of wreaking havoc on your system.

Individuals with high cortisol levels from chronic stress, those suffering from panic attacks or anxiety, pregnant women, surgical patients, those on any medication or anyone prone to a caffeine dependency may want to consider a light consumption or eliminating caffeine all together.

Symptoms of ingesting too much caffeine:

• Restlessness
Anxiety
• Dizziness
• Upset stomach
• Irritability
Insomnia
• Increased heart rate
• Tremors

Caffeine affects people in different ways depending on your genes. These genes help the enzymes break down caffeine in the liver, as well as control receptors in the brain which are affected by caffeine.

If you already have a sensitivity or any aforementioned underlying factors, caffeine is probably not the healthiest of choices.

An unfortunate truth… Many suffering from anxiety or insomnia will turn to coffee as an outlet, unaware or naïve it will actually perpetuate their problems. There are natural ways to support a healthy system which we have touched on in previous articles.

Give breaking up with coffee an honest effort; you might be surprised with the results!

Oh, but the wicked withdrawal…

If, for some unfortunate reason, you missed your morning cup of coffee and have experienced fogginess, headaches, irritability and/or fatigue, you have experienced the beginning stages of caffeine withdrawal. Your initial response is probably “Quick, find the nearest coffee shop!”

Unfortunately, the symptoms go far beyond that and are a very clear sign of just how dependent our bodies have become to caffeine. Caffeine withdrawal is a very unpleasant experience and as a result, quitting coffee is avoided by most.

Common symptoms of caffeine withdrawal:

• Headache
• Fatigue
• Irritability
• Lethargy
• Constipation
• Depression
• Muscle Pain, Stiffness, Cramping
• Lack of Concentration
• Flu-like symptoms
• Insomnia
• Nausea and Vomiting
• Anxiety
• Brain Fog
• Dizziness
• Heart Rhythm Abnormalities

Withdrawal symptoms may last up to a week for light caffeine consumers and possibly two months or more for those who have been consuming ~1000 mg or more daily.

Natural ways to detox from coffee

Maybe you’ve already tried quitting coffee but stopped due to withdrawal symptoms or gave in too soon. Perhaps you know you should quit but are dependent on it so intensely the idea of quitting leaves you overwhelmed and feeling hopeless. Whatever your situation, remember that trying is not failing! Sometimes it takes multiple attempts until you are stubbornly committed to seeing the detox through to the end.

Ways to help:

  1. Water: Increasing your water intake will help detox the caffeine from your system and aid in a healthy functioning circulatory and digestive system. Muscle cramps, headaches and constipation are all withdrawal symptoms which can be easily remedied with proper hydration.
  2. Heat and Cold: Contrasts are an excellent way to kick start your whole body. If you feel sluggish in the morning try turning your shower to cold before you get out. It can be quite jarring at first, so start with just your feet. Challenge yourself as you immerse more and more of your body under the water. This will kick start your adrenal system and metabolism, increasing alertness and energy and decreasing stress. Win, win!
  3. Alternative Therapies: Seeking out additional help during your weeks quitting caffeine can be supported by therapies like naturopathic treatments, acupuncture, massage therapy, and chiropractic treatment. Your muscles and digestive system go through a hefty shock when the caffeine intake all of a sudden stops. Your whole system locks up and the result is a stiff, congested, and painful body.
  4. Sleep: It is crucial you make sleep a priority! Although, this may not be a problem due to the fatigue and lethargy you will feel during the day if you are used to a few cups of coffee everyday. Avoid taking long naps during the day and focus on a healthy sleep pattern.
  5. Herbal Teas/Lemon Water: These will save you! Peppermint tea in the morning and afternoon can be incredibly refreshing! It is calming on the stomach and makes you alert and invigorated. Warm lemon water in the morning has a hundred different benefits, but one important to you in your ‘post coffee life’ is that drinking it will boost energy levels and increase metabolism. This is great for those still looking for that “pick-me-up” in the mornings.
  6. Peppermint Oil: For some people, the withdrawal headache can be the worst symptom of them all. A natural remedy for those avoiding over the counter medication is diluting a few drops of peppermint oil with coconut oil and rubbing it on the back of your neck and around your ears. This cooling sensation works magic on a headache and will distract your nervous system enough for you to get on with your day.
  7. Persistence: The most important of them all. It takes three weeks to break a habit and three months to create a new one. You might feel fantastic after two weeks sans caffeine and  want to “reward” yourself with a cup. Although this feels like a great idea, it is a slippery slope that will instantly aggravate and initiate withdrawal symptoms all over again.

Ultimately, after you have officially kicked the habit and are no longer at the mercy of coffee, you will experience increased energy, sounder sleeps, stable moods, sustained productivity, an increased relaxed state, and a larger bank account. 😊

Good luck and stick with it!
The Vitality Team

*information in this blog provided in part by the following website 

Whether or not people want to talk about it, digestive disturbances are more common than realized. In fact, “60 to 70 million” to be exact! For some, this is a constant battle; for others, it may only be a transient condition. Either way, it is not comfortable to deal with. Luckily, there are preventive and holistic measures which will decrease symptoms and flare-ups.

DECREASE STRESS

To stand up against digestive disease, we first need to address how the brain is influenced by stress levels. There are a number of hormones released when the brain is in a state of stress. This may cause a loss of appetite, uncontrollable cravings, irritability, bloating, irregular bowel movements, low energy, etc, etc. The list goes on, and it doesn’t take a doctor to figure out when the mind is under stress, the whole body can go haywire.

With how demanding and hectic schedules are for the average person, it is of no surprise the majority of individuals are in a constant state of stress. And the body part most affected by this is the digestive system. The gut is also known as the “little brain”; interesting fact- there are more nerve cells in the stomach and intestines than the entire spinal cord! The connection between the gut and brain is remarkably complex, with a directly correlation to our mood and emotions. A recent article by HealthDay summarized that, “95 percent of the body’s serotonin (the ‘happy’ hormone) is found in the digestive system and not in the brain”! Therefore, the brain affects the gut and the gut affects the brain…dramatically!

If the nervous system is overwhelmed it will activate the “fight or flight” response, slowing down digestion, decreasing absorption of nutrients, creating a misfiring physiological effect, and a dysfunctional gut. Long term, high stress levels can lead to stomach ulcers, aches, nausea, irritable bowel syndrome, acid reflux, diarrhea, and constipation. OUCH!

The Main Tools To Decrease Stress:
• Daily meditation
• Increase physical activity
• Practice breathing exercises
• Decrease sugar and carbohydrate intake
• PLENTY of sleep- this is a big one!
• And talk to your Naturopath- you may be lacking key supplements

ALTERNATIVE THERAPY

Massage: Manual therapies like massage decrease stress and anxiety levels by creating a relaxed state in the individual seeking them out. Further, the Registered Massage Therapist’s at Vitality Clinic have practical experience working directly and indirectly on digestive issues. Directly, your therapist will increase blood flow, stimulate the release of serotonin, encourage peristalsis (the contraction and relaxation of your intestines, which creates the movement of bowels through your system), and significantly reduce stress in your gut and mind.

Chiropractic care: Spinal adjustments help boost the immune system which makes the body’s defence system more effective. Also, the relationship between the nerves exiting the spinal cord and the end organ (somatovisceral relationship) acts very much like a garden hose. If there is a “kink” in the garden hose (ie nerve exiting the spine) the water (ie information being provided) can’t flow as efficiently, and the garden (ie digestive tract) may not flourish. Adjustments “unkink” the hose allowing for optimal flow of information and the best outcome for the “garden”.

Naturopath: Your diet and balance of good vs bad bacteria in your gut is an extremely important factor when it comes to digestive disturbances. If your gut is not functioning optimally, it may leave you feeling sluggish, toxic, low energy, lacking motivation, and emotional. Naturopathic Medicine views digestion “as the key piece to any naturopathic plan.” It is important to see a licensed Naturopath to help you with digestive wellness. Different approaches may include dietary modification, food allergy testing, homeopathic remedies, nutritional supplementation (like probiotics), immune support, IV therapy, and blood testing.

Acupuncture: The final meal ticket (pun intended) that is going to bring it all home for you is acupuncture! Not kidding, guys. Acupuncture is derived from ancient Chinese Medicine. It describes in detail metabolic changes in the body including the production of energy. It says that “our energy is produced from two sources: air inhaled during breathing and energy from food provided by proper digestion.” So, the doctors and scholars are focused on these two processes as the keystone for health and well-being. Inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, stomach ulcers, nausea and vomiting, irritable bowel syndrome, obesity, biliary colic, xerostomia, gout, acid reflux, etc. Our Registered Acupuncturist can help with all these digestive disturbances! Evidence Based Acupuncture quotes that, “acupuncture is more effective than pharmacotherapy in the treatment of diseases of intestines”, and they have hundreds of studies to support this statement!

MOVEMENT

When you are exercising or stretching your body, you are increasing the blood flow to your organs, and giving them an ‘internal massage’. It’s like wringing out a dirty towel. A great practice to help with digestive health is yoga. It incorporates twisting, stretching, strengthening and relaxation- all of which are crucial to promoting a healthy system. Getting in the habit of walking after you’ve had a big meal is also important; doing so directly aids in digestion. Any way you can get your body moving is going to be helpful! Take the stairs instead of the elevator, walk to work, stretch while relaxing in front of the television, implement a 10 minute morning stretch routine. Your body will thank you for it!

A happy gut really does mean a happy life!
The Vitality Team

Work Ergonomic Advice Provided by Vancouver Chiropractor and ART Provider

We all remember the hype and excitement as the idea of a standing desk verses a sitting desk would presumptuously be the ‘end-all, be-all’ for our sitting related diseases and overuse injuries. Sure, sitting was once coined as ‘the new smoking’ and is related to obesity, heart disease, and an array of posture related injuries, but what about the effects of standing? Haven’t we learnt “too much of anything is never a good thing?” What about the excess stress on our joints and circulatory system from being on our feet all day? Was there even evidence to support the notion standing was in fact preferred over sitting, or better for our bodies at all? Are we just addicted to this dramatic polarity in life where we swing from one extreme to the next? It has been nearly three years since the boom of standing desks made their way into office conversation and the results are trickling in. It seems, once again, we may have gotten a little ahead of ourselves.

So what if I sit?

First, let’s review your posture when sitting… Starting at the floor, your feet are planted lightly on the ground, knees at a 90 degree angle, sit-bones (ischial tuberosities) supported and tilted slightly back, and your spine straight with your core lightly engaged. Your arms are in front of your body perhaps resting on the keyboard or desk, shoulders are back, and your head is in a neutral position with your chin parallel to the floor. Great…. Now hold that for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, and see how your body responds! Unless you have given yourself to the Himalayan Mountains as a Tibetan monk whose devoted their life to sitting and mediation for 10-12 hours a day, every day, then I give you roughly 10 minutes before your muscles and joints begin to fatigue and you slouch. Holding an ergonomically correct posture for that duration is near impossible! However, when fully supported, sitting is the ideal position for precise and repetitive work. UCLA Ergonomics states that sitting is preferred “when visually intensive or precise work is required, the activity is a repetitive nature, longer tasks are completed, and when everything can be placed within easy reach.” But even if you do manage to maintain a supportive posture while sitting, some unavoidable perils are still going to create havoc on your health. Catch 22, am I right?

Anatomically, sitting causes a shortening of the muscles at the front of your hips- your hip flexors. Which, combined with a weak core, will create an imbalance affecting all parts of your centre of gravity. This most commonly leads to back and/or knee pain. When you stand after sitting for a long period of time, the hip flexors stay shortened and pull your hip bones and pelvis towards the floor. This creates an increased lower back curvature (hyperlordosis), a stretched and weakened core, and uncomfortable tension placed on your knees. Let’s not forget about the headaches and upper back pain created from slouching in front of a computer screen all day!

Additionally, the health concerns related to sitting (obesity, heart disease, and early death) are present enough in our culture they still raise a constant concern. Sitting creates digestive issues, slows down fat metabolism, increases bad cholesterol, and requires little to no energy. It’s no wonder we are desperate for the golden ideal that will rid us of all our problems!

So what if I stand?

Someone must have said, “Okay… So, if sitting is bad, why don’t we just do the exact opposite all day and see if that works!” Sounds legitimate enough, and seems to make sense, right? Plus, standing desks look great! They are modern, space efficient and, to the benefit of those in the business of selling them, crazy expensive! So, they must be great!

Granted, standing will burn 150 calories/hour compared to the easy 112 calories that sitting gets you. It requires more energy, but does this mean that by standing all day we are going to avoid the negative health concerns like obesity, heart disease, and musculoskeletal injuries? Standing, according to UCLA Ergonomics, is ideal for “jobs which include construction workers, highway flaggers, medical personnel, painters, electricians, plumbers, loggers, firefighters, plant inspectors, and maintenance personnel.” So, where does “office work” fit into all of that?

It seems the studies for standing desks were mostly done after the initial craze, and they came to the conclusion it would be the better solution for stand up desks to be used all day long (versus sitting desks). Recent studies are now concluding standing all day gives you an increased risk of atherosclerosis due to the additional load on the circulatory system. This leads to heart concerns, varicose veins, and swelling of your ankles and knees. It also creates a considerable amount of added pressure on our joints (specifically the ankles, knees, and lower back) which in turn may cause pain, swelling, and decreased range of motion.

Additionally, the ergonomics required for a standing desk are just as (if not more) specific as traditional sitting desks. Standing fixates your posture which increases wrist extension. This often leads to individuals leaning on their desk, causing an increase risk of carpal tunnel syndrome or a tendonitis. Even if the positioning is perfect, you are still at risk for developing overuse injuries, and painful and long lasting conditions.

So, now that we are all confused and on the same page…what can be said for certain when comparing standing verses sitting? I say a sweet compromise and a little personal responsibility is in order!

How about we compromise?

Both sitting and standing desks have advantages and disadvantages; this seems obvious.

The completed research indicates constrained sitting or standing for long periods of time are straining and that ultimately, alternating work postures are preferred. Our bodies thrive when faced with variety and movement. This increases the levels of work performance, reduces risks of musculoskeletal injuries, and improves comfort. Intuitively we know what is best for our bodies. When we are sore from sitting for too long, we take a big cat-like stretch and move our joints. If we have been standing for too long, we often reach forward and stretch out, or perhaps squat down to loosen up our hips.

Let’s combine the sitting and standing, and add in those specific movements. If we broke it up into periodic intervals during the day, preferably 5 minutes every 20-30 minutes, we would see an increase in energy levels, decrease in overuse injuries, a stronger circulatory and lymphatic system, and an increase in work productivity. This theory is supported by Cornell University Ergonomics Online and they go on to add that, “simply standing is insufficient. Movement is important to get blood circulation through the muscles, and movement is FREE!”.

Set a timer to go off every 20 minutes, increase your water intake, download a ‘movement’ app- whatever works for you! Stand up and stretch your arms, waist, legs, hips, and back. Walk around a little bit, do a couple squats or wall sits to get your blood flow moving. Deep breathing and an intentional focus on relaxation is also key!

So, I believe we can call this one a tie. Both sides can identify improvements necessary to counteract the negative effects, and we can all admit we can add a little more intentional movement into our days. Think of it as a giant ‘reset’ button you can manually push every 20 minutes! Your body will thank you for it!

Have a great day,
The Vitality Clinic Team

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