Straighten Up & Move To Improve Spinal Health
CAI survey reveals:
- 4 out of 5 experience pain in their back, neck or shoulders
- 62 per cent describe their posture as ‘average’
- One quarter exercise 4-5 times per week
The Chiropractic Association of Ireland (CAI) officially launched the sixth annual Straighten Up Ireland Week to include World Spine Day on Thursday 16th October. The campaign aims to raise awareness of spinal health, highlight the impact of spinal and postural disorders, and empower people with the knowledge and tools to help them improve and maintain their spinal health. CAI is also encouraging people to take a fun, creative photo of their spine on World Spine Day and share via social media using #worldspineday and #spineselfie.
Common spinal disorders such as back pain, neck pain, scoliosis and disc disease can have a profound effect on a person’s overall health, impacting a person’s ability to work, to enjoy everyday activities and even disrupting healthy sleep patterns. The World Spine Day theme of ‘Straighten Up and Move’ emphasises the importance of healthy spinal posture and activity, which promotes body awareness and minimises the day-to-day wear and tear on a person’s spine.
Internationally it is estimated that 80% of the adult population will experience back pain at some stage in their life. A recent survey by CAI looking at spinal health, posture and activity levels revealed that 97 per cent of respondents have experienced pain in their back, neck or shoulders on occasion, with two fifths in pain regularly. Despite 79 per cent of those surveyed claiming they are aware that good posture can increase energy levels and improve overall health, only one in five describe their posture as ‘good’, 62 per cent as ‘average’, while 18 per cent admit it is ‘poor’.
According to the survey, 35 per cent would describe their day as ‘active’ and over half (55 per cent) as ‘semi-active’. 53 per cent spend most of the day on their feet, standing or walking around and 43 per cent sitting at a desk. Of those who spend the majority of time sitting, only half know how to position their seat to avoid putting stress on their spine.
Dr. Siobhan Guiry, President of the CAI advises: “Prolonged sitting can affect certain body functions like slowing down the processing of fats, deterioration of the normal spinal curves and weakness of the leg and back muscles. We can improve our health simply by standing up and moving around more. Stand up when on the phone, take the stairs instead of the lift or escalator and use your lunch or coffee break to get outside and go for a short walk. It is also important to sit correctly at your desk – ensure your back is well supported, hips, elbows and knees are close to 90 degrees, thighs are parallel to the floor and recline slightly to ease lower back pressure, whilst maintaining good ergonomics of your work station to reduce repetitive strain injuries from prolonged hours in front of the computer.”
Many respondents are also spending a significant part of their day in the car with one-third clocking up one to two hours driving per day, 1 in 10 spend three to four hours in the car, while 12 per cent drive for over five hours per day. Of those, 14 per cent ‘often’ experience pain while driving, while an additional two-fifths feel discomfort if driving for a long period of time.
Dr. Guiry highlights the importance of maintaining good spinal posture when driving and using a lumbar roll to provide further lower back support. She adds that keeping your arms at shoulder height in a comfortable position from the steering wheel can further reduce the stress on the spine while driving.
When asked about levels of physical activity, 15 per cent say they exercise daily, one quarter exercise four to five times a week and 43 per cent two to three times per week. 17 per cent rarely exercise. Two-thirds of those who engage in regular exercise say that they occasionally experience pain with 10 per cent often feeling pain following a session. Despite this, 22 per cent do not incorporate a warm up and 27 per cent do not include a cool down as part of their exercise session.
Dr. Guiry says: “It’s very positive to see that the majority of respondents incorporate a healthy amount of exercise into their routines. To minimise risk of injury or discomfort, it’s important to always stretch before and after exercise, wear comfortable clothing and choose footwear that provides adequate support. We would also advise that people include core strength training in any exercise programme to help stabilise the spine and improve balance.”
As part of Straighten Up Ireland Week, CAI is highlighting a series of simple everyday exercises, which take only three minutes to complete and act to improve posture, stabilise core muscles, enhance health and help prevent spinal disability. The exercises can be undertaken by people of all ages with a special program tailored for children.
CAI chiropractors will also be hosting information talks, offering free spinal and posture checks and demonstrating the exercise programme in local schools and businesses throughout the week. Please visit www.chiropractic.ie for more information or to download the exercise leaflets.
The Straighten Up campaign originated from a chiropractic university in America. It was designed in collaboration with a team of leading health experts and is endorsed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Bone and Joint Decade.