First of all, I need to say, “Thank you”. I don’t know if you realize the influence you have on my, and all of your clients’ quality of life.
I remember thinking one time, after a facial, while sitting in my robe with my tea, how my sanity had just been saved. There are so many women like me juggling a career and a family, putting a little too much on our plate, putting one too many balls in the air. When we constantly are giving and caring for others, we deplete ourselves. You cannot pour from an empty cup and it makes you feel very unwell when you try to.
That day I knew for certain that my time at the spa was the best medicine anyone could have prescribed to me. Someone took care of me and did it with such presence and care and thought.
My cup was full again and I was ready to serve again, do my best again and be grateful for my wonderful family and career, instead of weighed down by them.
So, I have a very vested interest in keeping all of you uninjured and healthy throughout your careers so you can help me live fully in my life.
As I observe and talk to spa professionals, your biggest challenge is having to have your head over us, whether it is our eyebrows, toenails or bikini line. Did you know that your head weighs 10 pounds and for every inch it is in front of your body, it weighs an extra 10? So, for many of you, your poor neck muscles are often holding up close to 50 pounds for part of your days.
The muscles in your neck and upper back, understandably, get tired so the stress goes to the neck joints. Over time, stress on neck joints leads to arthritis. The weak, tight muscles give us neck pain and headaches. The rounded shoulders associated with a forward head start to lead to tight chest muscles. Gradually, the tension here can irritate nerves and restrict blood flow that go into your arms, leaving you with tingly and numb hands. The shorter and tighter these chest muscles get, the harder it is for you to stand and sit up straight, which creates a cycle of problems that play on each other and make your life miserable.
Not only does the poor posture create the neck and back pain and headaches but it negatively affects many other aspects of our health: Breathing: Try this right now: Let yourself collapse into a poor posture and try to take a big breath. Pretty hard, right? Now sit up nice and tall and take that same breath into your back. There, that’s better. We need that oxygen to think and feel vibrant, not sleepy, and heal injuries, and if we are athletes, to perform at our sport.
Digestion: There is less space for all of our organs to work efficiently when compressed. By creating more space in our abdominal cavity we allow for healthier digestion of our nutrition.
Confidence: If any of you have seen Amy Cuddy’s Ted Talk, “Your body language shapes who you are”, you will know that how we stand and sit can actually, physically change our hormones, creating a more or less confident person. You not only feel more confident when you are rocking your good posture but you scientifically are.
Before you run out and change careers, here is the very good news: there is so much to do to prevent these changes and symptoms that rob you of the joy of life.
To state the obvious, we must talk about your body mechanics while working. As you are able, bring the area of focus closer to you; this may mean adjusting your stool or the client’s bed. Relearn how to bend. If you bend over by rounding through your back then the joints and discs take the load of the upper body. If, however, you keep your back strong and solid as one unit and hinge at your hips, now your core muscles and strong glutes support the weight.
Just like I need to take time for self care, so do you. Our core muscles must be strengthened daily. Planking twice a day for a minute is an efficient way to accomplish this. Pilates is also a fantastic form of exercise to create a stable core. We must also work on staying mobile. Yoga is my favorite practice for this, but it can be as simple as doing sets of “swimming arms” each day, six front crawls, six back crawls, six breaststrokes, and general hip and lower back stretches on your bedroom floor. While at work, frequently stretch your back in the opposite position it has been for the last while to stop the muscles from shortening into poor posture. Lace your fingers behind your back and gently pull down while looking up.
I want to leave you with this visual; I often tell patients to pretend that there is a helium balloon on their head to lift them into beautiful posture but instead I’d like you to imagine you’re wearing a crown!
Stay well, take care of yourselves as well as you take care of us, and please know you are so very much appreciated.
Angela Macdonald is a chiropractor practising in Maple Ridge, BC. She is also the creator of “The Posture Project,” a social media soap box to let the masses know how beautiful posture helps people feel, look, play and age better . For more ideas, find her at “Dr. Angela Macdonald The Posture Project” on Facebook or on Twitter with Angela Macdonald DC @Posture_Project.