To get our jobs done, much of the American workforce is required to sit at a desk for long hours. Jobs that require plenty of sitting can lead to a range of secondary issues. The way a person sits at their desk (and the alignment of their body) is known as ergonomics. Poor ergonomics can lead to a variety of postural problems. Everything from weak core muscle due to lack of use and pain related issues.
Furthering this problem, when many of us leave work we sit on the commute home. What do we do at the end of the day? For most of us, we sit even more when we arrive home. This creates a cycle of poor posture and potentially, pain.
Breaking the Cycle of Poor Ergonomics
Despite the cyclical nature of this problem, we seem destined for pain. However, there are some simple steps to improve postural deviations. We can break the cycle that our work environment and lifestyle have trained our bodies to believe is proper sitting posture.
How EMG Biofeedback Can Help Solve Postural Problems
Surface EMG biofeedback is a way to train muscles to relax. It can also give information on whether a muscle activity has increased. A wireless wearable EMG sensor can be invaluable for this purpose. The Resility EMG device uses electrodes that monitor muscle exertion. By using the Android or iOS app, you can set the device threshold and parameters to align with your goals. As your body moves, you get visual and auditory biofeedback.
To use the device to improve posture, snap a disposable electrode to each side of the device and turn the device on. Place the sEMG sensor on one paraspinal muscle group at a time in the same vertical direction of the muscle fibers. Open the Resility app and pair the device. Using the app, set the threshold once you have proper upright posture. In the event the tension exceeds the threshold, an alarm will sound or vibrate. The blue circle in the middle of the app can be activated to record muscle activity is desired. The Resility sEMG device can then be moved to the opposite set of paraspinals to provide conditioned training and maintain muscle balance. In order to properly train the spinal muscles to activate correctly, it is encouraged to address both thoracic and lumber paraspinals.
In addition to using the sEMG device to provide corrective training in postural abnormalities, therapeutic exercises are encouraged as a secondary tool to strengthen the muscle groups associated with good posture. The core muscles are primarily responsible for maintaining the spine in good alignment. Exercises which positively affect posture are:
- Scapula retraction – pulling the shoulder blades together without elevating shoulders
- Plank Position – laying prone, come up onto elbows and toes with elbows aligned under the shoulders, maintaining a tight core
- Sit-Ups – laying supine with knees bent, use abdominal muscles to attain a tall sitting position and return to supine.
- Doorway Stretching – elevate the arm with elbow at a 90-degree angle, placing a hand on the door frame. Lean into the doorway to stretch the anterior shoulder within a pain-free range.
In conclusion, it is possible to negate the postural stresses of those who sit to perform job duties. So, combining EMG biofeedback with proper therapeutic exercises means improvements in sitting postural abnormalities. Consequently, this means less pain, improved muscle balance, and better core strength.
About the Author
Daphyne Lovejoy earned her BA in psychology from the University of North Texas in 2001 and later earned her license as a physical therapist assistant from Tarrant County College in 2006. She has experience working in various physical therapy settings with geriatric and pediatric populations. Her hobbies include being a mom to her five dogs, scrapbooking, cooking and traveling.
Note: All content found on the Resility Health Website, including text, images, audio, or other formats were created for informational purposes only. The content is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.