Posture and Ergonomics: Stand Up, Sit Up, and Feel Better


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Rounded shoulders, slouching, forward head posture — we see these on people all around us at epidemic proportions. It seems everyone is having trouble doing the simplest things, such as standing and sitting up-right, and our desks are only partly to blame. What most do not know, is that this insidious postural problem actually has its roots in our spine and nervous system.

On 19 June 2019, chiropractors Dr Jason Rutkauskas from Wellness Life Chiropractic and Dr Aymun Kamal from Kirolounge discussed how poor daily posture and ergonomics are changing our development and overall health, what to do about it, and the health benefits of chiropractic care for people of all ages.

Dr Rutkauskas began by explaining that chiropractic doctors specialise in disorders of the spine, nerves and joints using a holistic approach. This speciality is becoming more relevant as our modern environment has led to more desk-bound jobs and people having sedentary lifestyles. Since our bodies are designed to move, the many hours of sitting and inactivity result in numerous health issues.

We see the Forward Head Posture (FHP) among more people and mobile phone users have even developed the “text neck syndrome”, where the regular tilting of the head forward results in a structural strain in the neck that builds over time. Other issues include Scoliosis, disc problems and disc degeneration.

Poor posture impacts the body systems and functions. Neuro-structural shifts, or a misalignment of the spine, affects the nervous system and causes further health problems such as headaches, migraines, shoulder pain, low-back pain, and joint pains. If left untreated, the spine degenerates over time. Dr Rutkauskas demonstrated a few simple exercises to improve posture, especially for those who are bound to their desk for many hours, every day.
Dr Aymun Kamal then spoke about chiropractic care focused on paediatrics and pregnancy. Benefits of pre-natal chiropractic care include reduction in labour time, pelvic and back pain, sciatic pain and restless leg syndrome. It also encourages optimal foetal position and strengthens the pelvic floor to increase the likelihood of a smooth delivery and reduce birth trauma.
Undetected nerve dysfunction associated with birth trauma among babies may result in irritability, headaches, hyperactivity and difficulty with feeding and attachment including impaired suckling and swallowing.

Dr Kamal recommends parents doing tummy time regularly as early as three days after the birth of the baby. This allows them to practice lifting their heads against gravity and bearing weight with their arms — activities that strengthen the muscles of the neck, shoulders, arms, and belly. This physical development will eventually become crucial for babies to sit, roll, push up, and crawl.

Unfortunately, poor posture also develops among young children especially when they have easy and long access to screen-based technology, common in today’s homes. Dr Kamal recommends that children have very limited, preferably no screen-time and engage in physical activities instead.
Children should not be having back pains because they have greater elasticity compared to adults. However, backpacks alter posture and gait significantly, producing modifications in the head-neck angle, shoulder asymmetry and even lumber lordosis. Experts recommend that children carry, at most, 10% of their body weight.

The talk ended with Dr Rutkauskas and Dr Kamal addressing questions from the audience, including whether there are countries that have initiatives promoting spine health, how much chiropractic care can correct scoliosis, and how safe it is.

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Mr Ho Swee Huat

Mr Ho Swee Huat is the Founder and Managing Director of Abacus Assets Advisors Pte Ltd. Before starting the company, he had an established career in the banking industry, with 20 years of experience in Singapore, Hong Kong and New York.

He was an Independent Director and Chairman of the Audit Committee of CapitaCommercial Trust Management LTD from 2004 to 2013.

He is the current Chairman of Autism Association (Singapore) which he co-founded with a group of parents in 1992. He is also Vice-Chairman of Eden School, a special school for children with autism.

Mr Ho holds a Master’s degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and a Liberal Arts degree in Economics from Hamilton College, USA.

He has been a member of the Board of the Foundation since its incorporation.