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        Better Posture

        Hello, and welcome fellow Dorsum Exe-rs!

        Nova Scotia, Canada, Back Support, ExoSpine, MS, Multiple Sclerosis, Back Brace, Posture Corrector

        Me, at Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia

         

        I'm Melanie!

        My name is Melanie and I’m going to be writing a community blog for all of us Dorsum ExoSpine users, staff, and supporters, that hopefully will inform, educate, discuss, and reflect on questions that we all have throughout our individual journeys with the Dorsum ExoSpine. Topics won’t be decided by only me, it will be all of us, it’s important for me to write about topics that you want to know about as well.

        I want, we want, you to give us ideas about what you want to read about concerning your back and spine health. Maybe scientifically, explaining the ExoSpine as a concept or specific questions. Socially (do people wear their ExoSpines in public? If so, how is the best way to do so?). Physically (what challenges do you have at various parts of our journey)? Perhaps some problem solving, (what, if any, problems are you or did you have or are you having now)? The subjects will be reflective of your wants, needs, concerns, educating ourselves, and sometimes even just springboarding topics I’ve had from your comments. And, of course, topics decided by the different teams behind-the-scenes. 

         

        About Me

        In the meantime, I will tell you some things about myself, why I use the Dorsum ExoSpine, and my background. I may even include some photographs if you’re good! 

        So, about me: I live in Nova Scotia, on the East Coast of Canada.  I grew up in Montreal, moved to North Carolina on my own, worked for a school and went to university there as a Graduate Assistant.

        While I was finishing my Masters in North Carolina, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS); a disease in which the immune system eats away at the protective covering of nerves. During the five years after I graduated, I became very depressed and isolated, reclusive, moved back to Canada and watched my MS progress. Eventually, I had to stop working and it quickly became obvious that I couldn’t live on my own anymore.

         

        The Beginning of My Path to Recovery

        I moved back to the East Coast of Canada, the "Maritimes" as Canadians say, and moved in with my mother so she could look after me. We researched, and more than once, tried different methods to potentially slow down or stop, possibly even heal, my MS. We found a method that would take about four or five years to start to see results. Thankfully, we did start to see some changes and still do today. My MS continues to improve/heal.

        In 2010 I moved into a nursing home in Nova Scotia. I still live here, which has affected my mental health over the years (twelve+) but it definitely drives me to keep working on getting better, to get to the point that I can move out of here with my feet on the ground. I want to live fully back into the community instead of staying here and eventually leaving, to be blunt, feet first.

        My attempts to reverse and heal my MS still continue, which is what eventually led me to the Dorsum ExoSpine, which I will be sharing with you here; my journey in this next step. So come and join me!

        Seated Spinal Twist to Increase Mobility

        Seated Spinal Twist wearing the Dorsum Exospine Back Support to increase mobility.

         

        A quick way to increase mobility and flexibility in your spine is to stretch your abdominals, shoulders, and neck. One exercise to do this is the classic Seated Spinal Twist that also stretches your hips, glutes, and back. 

         

        Steps to do a Seated Spinal Twist:

         

        1. Sit on the floor with both legs extended out in front.
        2. Bend your left knee and place your foot to the outside of your right thigh.
        3. Place your right arm on the outside of your left thigh.
        4. Place your left hand behind you for support.
        5. Starting at the base of your spine, twist to the left side.
        6. Hold this pose for up to 1 minute.
        7. Mirror and repeat on the other side. 

         Seated Spinal Twist Example

         

        Note: If you are a beginner and don't have the muscle flexibility yet, start by placing your hand on the outside of the opposite leg to begin the twist. As your body's mobility and ability to twist increases you can place your elbow and arm to the outside of the opposite leg. 

         

        Muscles You're Activating

         

        Latissimus DorsiInternal ObliquesGluteus Maximus

         

         

         

         

         

         

         

         

        Easy Modifications

        Keep comfort in mind. A way to make this pose more comfortable is to keep both legs straight. 

        For an extra stretch, add in neck rotations during this pose by turning your head left and right before relaxing back to a neutral position.

        You can do 5 to 10 reps on each side, give it a try!

         

        Bad Posture Can Be A Slippery Slope

        Bad Posture Can Be A Slippery Slope

         

        Let’s examine the possibility. You don't work out or participate in sports. You're not a frontline worker. You still experience back and shoulder pain often. How can this be?

         

        It all gets back to the idea of postural muscles. Sitting all day long can be very bad for your back - particularly if you have bad posture. It’s true that this primarily involves your lower back and core muscles. 

         

        However, bad posture can be a slippery slope. If poor posture makes you uncomfortable and you compensate for it by contorting yourself in your seat, or walking and moving in unnatural ways, it can throw off those muscle groups as well.

         

        Of course, one solution - or one part of the solution - is correcting your posture. Doing stretches before and after long sitting spells can also help to loosen your back muscles so that they become less tight. Limiting how long you sit for by taking breaks to walk short distances - even if it’s just pacing around the room - can also help.

          

        However, taking up some physical activity can do the most good. Strengthening and developing your back muscles can make them more resistant to injury, but having a more developed muscular system can also help to passively improve your posture so that these issues are less likely to become issues in the first place.

         

        And remember, working out to prevent back and shoulder injuries doesn’t just mean working out your back and shoulders - particularly if the problem is from poor posture rather than overuse. Instead, think about your core and your thigh muscles as well.

        Balancing Your Back & Shoulder Workouts

        Balancing Your Back & Shoulder Workouts

        Post in collaboration with How to Bulk Muscle

        Even if you don’t typically do the motions described in our previous posts, you can still experience back and shoulder discomfort, pain or even run into serious problems with your muscles and joints.

         

        As we’ll be exploring throughout much of the rest of this article, many of your back muscles are postural muscles. That means that misalignments in your body can cause discomforts in your back muscles and that mismanaging your back muscles can cause severe problems with your bones.

         

        If you are a weightlifter who targets some muscle groups more than others, or a frontline worker that does the same sort of motion day in and day out you may be developing some muscle groups more than others. This can pull your bones out of alignment and damage your joints.

         

        One solution can be making sure to work out muscle groups that you may have been ignoring or that might not be as activated while you work. You may also want to consider incorporating more full-body exercises that work out multiple muscle groups at the same time. These exercises can prevent back and shoulder problems, but they’re also the best at fat burning.

         

        Depending on the problem, wearing a back support while you work or work out can also help to protect your posture so that your muscles and joints don’t take so much wear-and-tear.

        Mind Your Rotator Cuff

        Mind Your Rotator Cuff

        Back and shoulder pain can mean a lot of things. However, one of the most common culprits is overuse or strain of the rotator cuff.

        The rotator cuff is a ring of muscles surrounding each shoulder joint. They’re responsible for giving the shoulders their impressive multi-directional range-of-motion. However, they are also very delicate.

         

        Many people who have overuse injuries of the rotator cuff are athletes who often make arm motions above their heads, like pitchers and quarterbacks. However, people with physically demanding jobs like stockers and construction workers can also have these problems. Further, acute issues like sprains and strains can also impact these muscles.

         

        A recurring theme throughout this article - and our website - is that overuse and damage can be prevented through careful strengthening and toning of the muscle groups. The muscles of the rotator cuff are no different, and strengthening your shoulders can help reduce pain.

         

        The bad news is that they can be difficult to target effectively. The good news is that the muscles of the chest and back do most of the heavy lifting. As a result, familiarizing yourself with exercises to develop the back and chest can help to make these injuries less likely.