Author Topic: A cautionary tale on posture  (Read 2573 times)

Offline TeganL

  • Freshman Member
  • *
  • Posts: 44
  • Karma: 1
    • View Profile
A cautionary tale on posture
« on: June 19, 2017, 04:23:10 AM »
I remembered reading an thread discussing about the importance of posture while working on calligraphy and whether it really matters if the end result is the same (link) and today decided I'd share my cautionary tale on posture.

A few months ago, after I'd spent quite a few days sitting, working on a calligraphy project and general practice, I went outside and did some sweeping. A few hours later, my lower back started hurting, by the end of the day I couldn't sit or stand without quite a lot of pain which shot through my hips and down my thighs. For days, the only relief was laying flat in bed, I was taking the maximum dose of paracetamol and ibuprofen and it made no difference at all! 4 GP doctors visits, 2 weeks of prescription only pain killers and about 5 weeks later I had managed to find an almost comfortable way to sit, using a cushion rolled up as lumbar support. CT scan results came back, and my bad posture while sitting at my desk had hurt one of the discs in my lower back.

Moral of the story, and a lesson I'll now never forget: While you may be able to produce work of the same standard with bad posture, that's not really much good if you hurt yourself in the process and end up unable to practice your calligraphy (or do anything much at all) for 5 weeks!

You might think "Gee she must have had really bad posture to do that" but really it was just a case of slouching!

Maybe my next piece should be a framed reminder for my desk saying "Sit up straight!"  ;D

Offline schin

  • Super Hero Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1428
  • Karma: 118
  • Las Vegas
    • View Profile
    • Openinkstand
Re: A cautionary tale on posture
« Reply #1 on: June 19, 2017, 02:12:34 PM »
I'm very sorry to hear that.. yikes!!! I hope you feel better.. and maybe look into replacing your chair or taking more frequent breaks.
I'm quite short sighted but dislike wearing glasses or contacts at home, so I am forced to slouch over the desk. This resulted in terrible pain in my shoulders and neck, and no amount of ergonomic chairs, lumbar stuff or special cushions can help. I had to go to a massage therapist every month ($$$!) but it didnt solve my problem.
A few months ago I decided to enroll in yoga class, and I must say it has been a huuuge improvement! My shoulders no longer hurt and I could cancel my massage appointments. I've since been going to class at least 2-3 times a week and highly recommend it to any calligrapher who needs some body readjustment!
OPENINKSTAND // website | blog |instagramyoutube

Offline TeganL

  • Freshman Member
  • *
  • Posts: 44
  • Karma: 1
    • View Profile
Re: A cautionary tale on posture
« Reply #2 on: June 19, 2017, 10:10:06 PM »
Thanks Schin, yes I am feeling much better now, I still have to watch out for pain in my back from my stubborn bad posture habit, but at least now I know how to stop it from getting worse again!
Yoga sounds like a really good idea, especially hearing the benefits it has given you, that's awesome!

It's funny to think back to when I was a child in early primary school, who would have thought there was some wisdom to my teachers telling everyone to sit up straight!?! Hahaha. At the time I really just believed they said it as an excuse to tell students off  :o .


Offline Estefa

  • Super Hero Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1508
  • Karma: 122
    • View Profile
    • Federflug
Re: A cautionary tale on posture
« Reply #3 on: June 20, 2017, 02:58:11 AM »
I second practicing yoga or something similar. I do a mix of yoga and Cantienica, which focuses very much on posture and bringing healthy movements in every day life (meaning: not only sitting straight at the desk, but also how to do stuff like sweeping, or lifting and carrying heavy things etc.). Glad to hear you're feeling better!
Stefanie :: Website :: Blog :: Instagram

Offline TeganL

  • Freshman Member
  • *
  • Posts: 44
  • Karma: 1
    • View Profile
Re: A cautionary tale on posture
« Reply #4 on: June 20, 2017, 04:39:08 AM »
Thank you Estefa. Interesting, I hadn't heard of Cantienica, it sounds very useful, especially learning to lift and carry heavy objects properly! These are certainly very important things to learn, I never thought doing something like calligraphy could lead me to injure myself! That's only for active activities like sports right?!  :o ::)

Offline Estefa

  • Super Hero Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1508
  • Karma: 122
    • View Profile
    • Federflug
Re: A cautionary tale on posture
« Reply #5 on: June 20, 2017, 06:09:06 AM »
Well, the father of a friend of one of my kid's just had a herniated disk and the doctor apparently said I see 15 years of sitting at a desk!". So definitely it's not just sport it's bad everyday habits that can damage our health :(

In case you want to find out more about Cantienica, here is her site:

https://www.cantienica-method.com

(I'm just a happy customer, it helped me tremendously also during and after pregnancies )
« Last Edit: June 20, 2017, 07:12:21 AM by Estefa »
Stefanie :: Website :: Blog :: Instagram

Offline Erica McPhee

  • Administrator
  • Super Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6524
  • Karma: 327
  • Be brave. Love life!
    • View Profile
    • Dasherie Magazine
Re: A cautionary tale on posture
« Reply #6 on: June 20, 2017, 10:30:43 AM »
A few months ago I decided to enroll in yoga class...


Actually, I convinced her to go.  ;D

But in all seriousness, this happened to me earlier this year (and happens every five years or so). We all have damage to our discs - it is what happens as we age (and not just older people but literally as we go forward through life). When you are young, they are soft and elastic but as we age, they become more rigid. Discs can start deteriorating in your early 20s. In herniated discs, the cushion that sits between the vertebrae becomes pushed out of its normal position. This can happen for any number of reasons and many times does not even cause a problem or pain. It's when it interferes with the spinal nerves and cord that it causes so much pain. A herniated disc can be caused by repetitive strain (like from sitting with bad posture over and over). You probably already know this, I'm just mentioning it for those who don't.

The last time it happened to me, I was sweeping. I have not heard of Cantienica so thank you for mentioning that @Estefa! My husband is an exercise physiologist and used to do therapy for people with chronic back pain so I knew about the proper lifting, etc.

This past time, I was flat on the couch for three days until I found the right homeopathic remedy to help. Then I was pain free within 12 hours. But man - it was brutal. You have my deepest empathy @TeganL 
« Last Edit: June 20, 2017, 10:33:04 AM by Erica McPhee »
Truly, Erica
Lettering/Design Artist, Homeopath, Photographer, Mom, Wife
Dasherie Magazine | Paperwhite Studio | Instagram | Facebook

Offline garyn

  • Senior Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 444
  • Karma: 21
    • View Profile
Re: A cautionary tale on posture
« Reply #7 on: June 20, 2017, 11:50:21 AM »
From discussions with my PT.

- He told me that you can hold a proper position for about 10 minutes, then you forget and go back to your usual slouch.
The only way to beat that is to pay attention and check yourself often enough that good posture becomes a habit, just like slouching became a habit.  Easier said than done.

- You need to sit so that you are sitting on the bottom of the hip bone, not on your tail bone, so the spine is not curved back.  If you rotate your hip and sit on the tail bone, like when you slouch, you are pulling your back out.


I found that the chair makes a BIG difference. 

- If the pan of the chair can be tilted forward, it counters the slouch and helps keep your back straight. 

- Another is to sit back into the chair, so that the backrest of the chair supports your lower back, so that you can't slouch.  Slouching many times happens when there is no support for the lower back, so when you are not paying attention to your back, the back curves out.

- A 3rd is for chairs that you cannot adjust the pan angle, like when you are at a restaurant.  Sit on the front of the pan, so that your thigh angles down.  This makes it easier for those of us, with short ham string, to not rotate the hip bone.

Per the insurance guys that I used to work with, "back injury is cumulative."  It is the result of all the years of bad treatment that one day, you bend to pick up a pencil from the floor, and your back gives out.  It wasn't picking up the pencil that caused the back injury, that was just "the straw that broke the camels back."


And for those of you on the computer a lot, pay attention to your posture there.
It was my wife that caught me hunched over looking at my monitor.  It seems that I position my head level with the middle of the screen.  So with a low monitor, I lower my head and hunch my back.  To counter that I now raise my monitor to get me to lift my head, and thus straighten my back.  This rankled all the ergo people in the offices I worked at.  They said my monitor was too high, and wanted to lower it down.
« Last Edit: June 20, 2017, 11:55:06 AM by garyn »
Gary

Offline TeganL

  • Freshman Member
  • *
  • Posts: 44
  • Karma: 1
    • View Profile
Re: A cautionary tale on posture
« Reply #8 on: June 21, 2017, 12:13:36 AM »
Thanks for the tips @garyn , I certainly don't want to be in that kind of pain again anytime soon, so I'm certainly trying to watch my posture as much as possible. A friend once had her back "taped" with a big X from her shoulders to her lower back by a physio to help with posture and teaching you what it feels like to hold the correct posture when doing everyday activities, I'm thinking I should go see a physio and ask for some advice. I certainly agree with the info your PT said about forgetting posture after 10 minutes. I've had to remind myself about 5 times while writing this reply!

It was my wife that caught me hunched over looking at my monitor.  It seems that I position my head level with the middle of the screen.  So with a low monitor, I lower my head and hunch my back.  To counter that I now raise my monitor to get me to lift my head, and thus straighten my back.  This rankled all the ergo people in the offices I worked at.  They said my monitor was too high, and wanted to lower it down.
I just tried raising my monitor (out of curiosity), but instead of sitting up straighter I found myself just tilting my head up HAHAHA! This slouching habit is well ingrained  ::) .

This past time, I was flat on the couch for three days until I found the right homeopathic remedy to help. Then I was pain free within 12 hours. But man - it was brutal. You have my deepest empathy @TeganL 
Thanks @Erica McPhee , you too! It's so frustrating being forced by pain to spend all that time resting and looking for remedies to reduce pain.

Offline Moya

  • Super Hero Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1539
  • Karma: 60
  • all your gold are belong to me
    • View Profile
    • Calligraphy by Moya
Re: A cautionary tale on posture
« Reply #9 on: June 22, 2017, 11:22:56 AM »
Oh no Tegan!

I've actually been going through the same thing this last two weeks!  I was teaching a class and leaned over the table and felt something 'go' ... it seemed okay, there, but by lunchtime I could barely walk to my car to find the painkillers, and by the time I got home, I fell straight into bed and I could barely move for a week!  I'm hobbling about now but I'm feeling very sorry for myself - I'm glad I"m not the only one.

I've seen a lot of the physio (and a massage therapist, and a GP, and a chiro) in the last week and they all agree that a lot of the problem is poor posture.  I've been ordered to spend more time at the swimming pool and more time paying attention to my posture.  Funny, I pay so much attention to my hands, wrists and fingers, but somehow I've just been damaging my back in the meantime...

ugh.  Anyway, sending all of you good wishes for health and strong backs!  <3

Offline Erica McPhee

  • Administrator
  • Super Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6524
  • Karma: 327
  • Be brave. Love life!
    • View Profile
    • Dasherie Magazine
Re: A cautionary tale on posture
« Reply #10 on: June 22, 2017, 05:35:54 PM »
Oh Moya, I'm so sorry to read you, too! I hope you are on the mend soon!  :-*
Truly, Erica
Lettering/Design Artist, Homeopath, Photographer, Mom, Wife
Dasherie Magazine | Paperwhite Studio | Instagram | Facebook

Offline cejohnson

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 128
  • Karma: 14
    • View Profile
Re: A cautionary tale on posture
« Reply #11 on: June 23, 2017, 09:48:14 AM »
I hope you feel better soon and continue to mend.

I have had my L5 / S1 discs bulge twice and it was paralyzing (bending over doing what I thought was a routine chore).

I have used gentle Pilates floor stretches to help with my shoulders and back. I, too, have not heard of Cantienica, but have used some Hatha yoga from time to time.

As I sit here typing I have to keep reminding myself to not slouch! Thanks for the reminder, and again, I hope you feel much better soon.

"The expert at anything was once a beginner." - Helen Hayes

Offline TeganL

  • Freshman Member
  • *
  • Posts: 44
  • Karma: 1
    • View Profile
Re: A cautionary tale on posture
« Reply #12 on: June 23, 2017, 10:04:37 PM »
@Moya, I hope you're feeling painfree soon! I too am kind of glad I'm not the only one  :)

All together now "Sit up straight" hehehe ;D

Offline Elisabeth_M

  • Senior Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 459
  • Karma: 28
    • View Profile
    • Instagram
Re: A cautionary tale on posture
« Reply #13 on: June 24, 2017, 07:27:05 PM »
I've had bad posture at desks ever since 2nd grade when I started needing glasses (but nobody caught on that I needed them until 3rd grade...).  It's only recently that I've noticed it really starting to hurt me, but maybe that's because before I started calligraphy, it'd been a few years since I'd spent much time at a desk.  One thing that has helped is wearing an old fashioned waist-cincher because the boning helps make it too uncomfortable to sit all crumpled up.  It makes my back feel better and more supported as well.  My goal is to strengthen my abdominal muscles so that it's easier to sit straight for long periods of time, but until then, I'll take the artificial support (even if it does make me feel like I'm stuck in the 1950s).
Science is a way of thinking much more than it is a body of knowledge.  --Carl Sagan

Instagram

Offline garyn

  • Senior Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 444
  • Karma: 21
    • View Profile
Re: A cautionary tale on posture
« Reply #14 on: June 25, 2017, 02:20:58 PM »
Elisabeth
Home Depot back belt for the guys  ;-)
And it really helps.

But as you said you NEED to strengthen the core muscles.  The waist cincher or back belt provides support, but it also then creates a situation where your core muscles don't do much work, because of the external support of the back support, and then gets weaker from lack of use.  So you have to limit the time you wear back support, so you can strengthen the core muscles.

Both my PT and back doc told me to use the back belt as little as possible.  IOW, only when I am in pain, or when I know I will do something that may strain the back, but NOT as regular wear.

Caution, wearing the cincher or back belt too much may create another problem.  My mid-back began to hurt.
It turned out the mid back was just above the top of the back belt.  Since my lower back could not bend, I was doing most of my bending at mid-back, and thus working those joints and muscles more than normal, thus the pain there.
Gary