Sleep Position | Backpack Safety | Running Shoe Advice | Posture Tips


Sleep Position

Watching what position you sleep in and choosing the proper mattress are both important to maintaining a healthy back. Each of these articles provide important tips to consider when selecting a mattress and evaluating your sleeping position.

Mattress Guidelines for Sleep Comfort

Adapted from, this article addresses the importance of selecting a proper mattress.

Mattresses for Back Conditions

Adapted from, this article discusses best sleep positions to prevent back problems.

Selecting the Best Mattress

Adapted from, this article provides tips for selecting the best mattress to prevent spinal injuries and back pain.


Backpack Safety

Several news stories and articles have appeared speaking to the issue of backpack safety in school children. One article from the Aug. 1, 2007 issue of the Okeechobee News starts off by noting that backpacks can be purchased anywhere, but very few people ask about the construction of these packs. The article suggests that parents ask the following questions. "How wide are the shoulder straps? Does it disperse weight evenly? Does the bag have a waist belt to disperse weight to the hips?"

The Okeechobee News article reports that according to the the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS), there are more than 21,000 backpack-related injuries each year. The article notes that increased weight is a major issue. The result, as they suggest, is that, "This increase in weight can be correlated to an increase in children seeing chiropractors."

On July 12, 2007, the California publication, The Acorn, also published a story on backpack safety. In this story they quote Dr. Gerard W. Clum of the Foundation for Chiropractic Progress who advises, "Backpacks weighing more than 15 pounds that are slung over a shoulder produce an imbalance in the rib cage." He continued by saying, "This type of repetitive strain can also initiate arm and hand numbness, headaches or backaches."

The July 20, 2007 Toledo Free Press also ran a story on backpacks where they offered tips by the American Chiropractic Association to "help prevent the needless pain that backpack misuse could cause the students in your household." These tips included:

  • Make sure your child's backpack weighs no more than 10 percent of his or her body weight.
  • The backpack should never hang more than four inches below the waistline.
  • A backpack with individualized compartments helps in positioning the contents most effectively.
  • Make sure that pointy or bulky objects are packed away from the area that will rest on your child's back.
  • Urge your child to wear both shoulder straps.
  • The shoulder straps should be adjustable so the backpack fits to your child's body.
  • If the backpack is still too heavy, talk to your child's teacher.


Poor-fitting Athletic Shoes
Can Lead to Back Pain, Chiropractors Say

American Chiropractic Association Offers Tips for Choosing a Great Running Shoe

ARLINGTON, Va., Dec. 6 /PRNewswire/ — Too many people choose fashion over function when purchasing running shoes, not realizing that poor-fitting shoes can do more than hurt their stride; they can also lead to pain throughout the body. Because footwear plays such an important role in the functional biomechanics of the human body -- especially for runners and other athletes -- choosing the right shoe can help eliminate pain in your back, hips, knees and feet, says the American Chiropractic Association (ACA).

"Your feet are the foundation of your body, and if they are not properly supported you can have problems anywhere from the bottom of your feet up through your neck," explains Jeffery Solomon, DC, president of the ACA's Council on Sports Injuries & Physical Fitness.

The American Chiropractic Association reminds runners that how a shoe fits is the most important consideration when purchasing a new pair. Consider the following tips before you purchase your next pair of running shoes:

  • Be sure to match the right shoe to the right activity. Running shoes are primarily made to absorb shock as the heel strikes the ground. In contrast, tennis shoes provide more side-to-side stability. Walking shoes allow the foot to roll and push off naturally during walking, and they usually have a fairly rigid arch, a well-cushioned sole, and a stiff heel support for stability.
  • If possible, purchase running shoes from a specialty store or from someone knowledgeable about matching the correct type of running shoes to your foot type and stride pattern.
  • Select shoes with adequate cushioning in the soles, which helps absorb the shock of your feet hitting the ground. Cushioning is especially important when running on hard surfaces, such as pavement or sidewalks.
  • Try to shop at the end of the day or after a workout when your feet are generally at their largest. Wear the type of socks you usually wear during exercise, and if you use orthotic devices for postural support,make sure you wear them when trying on shoes.
  • Choose shoes for their fit, not by the size you've worn in the past.
  • It's important to have both the length and width of your feet measured every time you shop for shoes, since foot size often changes with age.
  • Check for adequate room at the widest part of your foot. The shoe shouldn't be tight, but your foot shouldn't slide around, either. The heel of your foot should fit snugly against the back of the shoe without sliding up or down as you walk or run.
  • When trying on shoes, be sure to wear them for at least 10 minutes at the store. Jog up and down the aisles to test the feel and support of the shoe.
  • Consider custom made orthotic insoles. Orthotics can address structural abnormalities in the feet and the resultant biomechanical faults. When used in combination with a good shoe, custom orthotics can provide optimal support for both leisure and marathon runners. (For more information, visit

Once you have purchased a pair of running shoes, don't run them into the ground, experts say. Failing to replace worn shoes is a major cause of running injuries. While estimates vary as to when is the best time to replace old shoes, most experts agree that between 300 and 500 miles is optimal. If you suffer from pain beyond typical muscle soreness, your doctor of chiropractic can diagnose and treat your pain or injury and get you back into the groove of your exercise routine. For more information about chiropractic, or to find a chiropractor near you, visit the ACA's Web site at

(SOURCE: American Chiropractic Association)


5 Posture Tips

Proper Posture is extremely important to your health. There are many misconceptions about what the right posture is. Most of the information here is for a typical computerized office. Many of the concepts can be applied to other situations. Any reduced stress to your spine can prevent common aches and pains which can lead to increased work production and increased health. I hope some of this advice will help you.

In the past 15 years, office environments have drastically changed because of the more frequent use of computers. In the old days, you could read memos and do some writing, and if you became uncomfortable, you would shift positions automatically and unconsciously. Now with the non-mobile computer monitor on your desk, you must adapt yourself to it. Sometimes we adapt to it compromising correct posture. This is not a good practice. With very little effort, we can save our health and continue to work efficiently.

Posture Tip #1: Keep Your "S" Curve Intact

The best positions in which to work are those that keep the body in a neutral position. This means:

  • The back with its natural "S" curve intact
  • The elbows held naturally at the sides of the body
  • The wrists in neutral position

It is important to maintain the natural S-curve of the back whether sitting or standing. Sometimes additional lumbar support is helpful if you are sitting for long periods of time. Note that it is impossible to hold a rigid position as shown in these pictures for long amounts of time. These are only two examples of good posture.

Remember however, that no one posture is good for a long time. The best posture is a constantly changing one. If you don't believe this, take a car ride from New York to Los Angeles one day. Even with the "best" posture in the world and the finest leather seating you will quickly realize my point.

Did you know that sitting down actually puts 50% of a greater load on your spine than standing. When standing, it is often helpful to use a foot rest to keep the spine in its best alignment. When sitting, leaning back slightly is often helpful.

Posture Tip #2: Keep Your Neck Straight

Too much bending or twisting of the bones of the neck can cause damage to your spine as well. It is important to be aware of how your neck is positioned. Try to avoid prolonged twisting and bending.

In computerized offices, the prime cause of a twisted neck is placement of the computer monitor. If the monitor is not directly in front of the user or if it is not at the right height, the neck will be angled incorrectly one way or the other.

The proper monitor placement is to keep top of the monitor at eye level and to have the monitor directly in front of you. If you are reading things from hardcopy and then typing on the computer, it is a good idea to place papers next to and parallel with the monitor.

There are two other common causes of neck stress. The first is "Telephone Neck." This can be eliminated very simply by using a headset or adding a telephone cushion or cradle.

There is also what is called "Nearsighted Neck" which refers to the fact that many people are unaware that they are slightly nearsighted, and thus will lean their necks forward to be able to see the screen clearly. There are also those who must lean their neck backwards to see due to improper glasses. If you notice you are bending forwards or backwards to see, make sure to have your eyes examined. Or simply move the monitor closer.


Posture Tip #3:
Keep Your Elbows In and Your Shoulders Relaxed

Your elbows belong at your sides, not stretched out to reach a keyboard or a mouse.

There are several things you can do to make this position possible:

  • Adjust your furniture to correct the heights (either raise the chair or lower the desk)
  • Rearrange your desktop layout to make things closer
  • Use a keyboard holder, one with space for your mouse
  • Use a touch pad instead of a mouse if your keyboard comes with one
  • If your chair has adjustable arm rests, place them at the same height as your keyboard

Keep Your Wrists in a Neutral Position

Keeping a neutral position in the wrist can help to prevent increasingly more common disorders such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. There are several good ways to think about wrist posture. One way is to keep the hand in the same plane as the forearm. Good arrangement of your desktop and use of wrist wrests can help achieve this.

A good way to test yourself to assure your wrist posture is neutral is to let your arms dangle by your sides. Note the position of your wrists. This is most likely a neutral position.

When using a mouse a lot, make sure you don't grip it too hard. Learn to hold the mouse with a loose grip. This can help keep your wrists neutral. Another good tip for keeping proper wrist function is the shape of the newer style of "natural" keyboards. While appearing unconventional, these keyboards do an excellent job of keeping your wrists in a neutral position. Many also come with touch pads to use in place of a mouse.

Posture Tips #4:
Variation is the Key to Proper Posture

Old Rule

There is an old rule for the "correct" sitting posture called the "90-90-90" rule. This is based on an idea of fitting your body in square corners; 90° at the knees, 90° at the hip, and 90° at the elbows.

It is still ok to apply the rule but only as a starting point to which you will adjust your posture. There is no real scientific basis for this rule. The human body does not work best at right angles. The neutral positions of the various joints in the body are much more irregular and complex than that.


Newer Rule

There is an old rule for the "correct" sitting posture called the "90-90-90" rule. This is based on an idea of fitting your body in square corners; 90° at the knees, 90° at the hip, and 90° at the elbows.

It is still ok to apply the rule but only as a starting point to which you will adjust your posture. There is no real scientific basis for this rule. The human body does not work best at right angles. The neutral positions of the various joints in the body are much more irregular and complex than that.


Best Rule

Even better yet, be aware there is no one best posture that is "correct" for an eight-hour day. The body needs to change so you need to shift your postures.

  • Adjust your seat up and down throughout the day.
  • Move, stretch, and change positions often.


Posture Tips #5: Take Energy Breaks

The human body needs to be exercised and stretched. To be healthy, the human body needs activity. You need to stretch the full range of motion of your joints periodically throughout the day.

Being in one position for long periods of time will fatigue your muscles and after time will cause them to begin to hurt. A bit of periodic stretching promotes blood flow and nourishment to the tired muscles. The result is that you can feel refreshed and better able to work with less fatigue.

Stretches can be simple. Just standing up and reaching for the ceiling or making circles with your arms can help get your blood flowing. Going for a 2 or 3 minute walk can also help. Set a timer on your computer to alert you to stretch at least every two hours. Remember however, although regular stretching and exercise can help loosen up some muscles, you cannot use these means to replace proper furniture and posture.

Some shoulder and neck stretches can be done without even getting up. Patients at Osborne Chiropractic Clinic will receive, upon request, a stretching manual with simple yet effective stretches that can be used at work.

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