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A New Kind of March Madness: Reverse the Curve

Sara Shupe, MSPT, Dip. MDT is a physical therapist specialist and founder of J.O.Y. Physical Therapy Inc, a mobile and tele-health physical therapy provider servicing Minnesota and Wisconsin. Sara has presented early access clinic models of mechanical diagnosis and therapy (MDT) in the treatment of low back pain to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), National Association of Spine Society (NASS) and The international MDT Conference. Sara lives in Eagan, MN with her family and Daushund puppy, Chase.


While you are are flattening the COVID-19 curve in the madness of March 2020 by staying home, it is likely you find yourself sitting (and eating!) more than usual. It would not be surprising then to notice a tingling sensation into that right hand as you sit at your "desk" for hours working on your project proposal...or playing the 50th game of Candy Crush. You shake it off...it leaves momentarily. It comes back. So, you decide it’s time for a break. You check the fridge (again). You check Facebook. (Hopefully) You take Fido on a walk. You forget about it. Twenty minutes later, you are back into it, and into the hand the tingling goes again… 

Is my carpal tunnel occluded like every 4-lane highway at 5pm? 

Is my neck out of joint? 

Do I have COVID-19? 

Maybe I’m allergic to project proposals…or Candy Crush.

Your curve needs reversing. 

In my home town of St. Paul, Minnesota, there was a cartoon great names Charles Schultz; maybe you’ve heard of him. One of my favorites of his Peanuts characters was Schroeder. (If you need to use Dr. Google to look him up, you’re probably too young to be reading this!) He sat at a piano with his head down most of the time. Not unlike the rest of us on our iPhones. If you look like Schroeder at your computer or phone, you are in a forward-head position. 

If the laws of physics are correct, and I rely on them every day to be, the fulcrum, or center-point, of your sitting position is in the joints of your neck. In neutral, your head weighs between 8-16#. In forward head, due to an increased lever arm against gravity, the amount of force on your head, neck upper back is four times that number! With positive ergonomics, techniques to get to neutral and then reverse the curve, you can work longer, smarter. 

Find neutral, then reverse.  

As if someone is pulling on your hair at the top of your head, lengthen your spine, tuck your chin, and keep your shoulders down. Lumbar supports are great to decrease the amount of energy your muscles need to sustain neutral. If you feel strain anywhere from the back of your head to the mid to low back muscles, that is a good position to start with your sitting posture support.

Then, push the head back further into a movement called "retraction" to increase the strain further. Press on the chin to add further motion. If the position, movement and load is correct, the more you do it, the easier it should get. 

Get rid of your tingling today! 

Call 651-800-MYPT or make your appointment today at www.joy-pt.com  to have us come out to your work station, home "office" or telehealth session today! Or find a MDT provider in your area at www.mckenzieinstituteusa.org/findaprovider 

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