In this very busy, ever-changing world, we get caught up in the circle of what we are used to doing, whether consciously or unknowingly. We operate like 'machines', forming habits, routines - both good and bad.
Whether it is our thoughts or even to the way we move, this results in a disconnect from our body. Are we fully self-aware and conscious of the choices we make?
Why does this happen?
Well, with the endless bombardment of stressors, distractions, notifications we face in every single second of our lives, it is no wonder our attention often slips away from the things that really need focusing on.
Little slips and negligence can lead to longer-term pain. This is why you, as a busy woman, should still aim to pay close attention to the way you move. These movements refer to the ones you often make in order to relax or ward off the pain that commonly comes with a busy workload.
Let’s break down the four common types of busy women around you and specifically, the potential problems and pain they may face. This can help you better comprehend why some of your friends have been complaining about pain, or even help you better understand your own body.
1. Busy Working Professionals
A busy working professional woman often finds herself stuck behind the desk the moment she enters the office. There is a high probability that because of hectic schedules and tight deadlines, she would spend her lunchtime in the office. This results in a poor diet and lack of proper nutrition. Hence, she may experience lethargy and at times, mood swings.
On top of that, as she is sitting down so much, she could end up slouching on one side. Maybe even with her legs crossed, and a straining neck position as she looks closer and closer to the computer screen. Plus, a high possibility of her head tilting to her favoured side.
Imagine doing this for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. The compounded outcome would be detrimental.
Her muscles begin to shorten and stiffen which will begin to cause tension headaches, back pains and uncomfortable sleep due to pain. All these can cause an increase in stress as well.
Her posture deteriorates over time, which then leads to looking into painkillers, massages and other forms of therapy to relieve the pains.
This is a self-inflicting endless cycle. Looking deeper into her life, she would be able to see why her body became the way it is by delving deeper into all the root causes of her pain and aches.
In summary, these are what most busy professional women would experience:
- Slouching posture while seated
- Slouching on one side
- Twisted lower back and hips (from crossing legs)
- Strained forward neck position
- Tilted neck position
2. Busy Business Traveller
A busy business traveller is often shuttling between countries and spends most of her time on planes, at airport lounges and in meetings. She will feel the full force of the effects of sitting down in back-to-back meetings or travelling to meetings.
She might also miss her meals or probably end up binging on food while in transit, because she just does not have the time to have a proper meal.
From meetings, commuting between meetings and flying between destinations, the time spent seated down all adds up to a significant number of hours.
Her body will take a toll with all these build-up stiffness of her muscles, eventually leading to lower back soreness and head & shoulder pains. Without much rest and high amounts of stress from meetings, the intensity of the pain would often begin to radiate throughout various parts of her body.
She may even have insufficient sleep due to constant pain or tension headaches arising from a combination of habitual and adverse activity-based movements in the body.
Should she also be lugging around a big handbag slung over her shoulder or clasped in between her arm and body, these pains will naturally be intensified.
In summary, a busy business traveller may commonly experience these issues:
- Postural imbalances from long hours spent sitting
- Lack of proper diet and nutrition
- Lower back soreness
- Head and shoulder pains
- Shoulder imbalances
3. Busy Front-Line Service Staff
A busy front-line service lady can often spend many hours standing due to the nature of her work. In any service industry, the hours spent standing can be the root cause of many unconscious habits that may cause negative effects on the body.
After many hours of standing on her feet, she would probably be tired, unconsciously shifting her weight to one feet. She may also rest her arms on her favourite side to let her tired back rest.
Depending on the area of the service industry, actions such as bending, squatting, climbing, carrying objects may be repetitive. All these actions, when done repetitively, will affect the body one way or another.
Also, with long working hours and often having to deal with many different individuals and personalities, getting stressed is an inevitable result. When stress levels aren’t properly managed, this can be seen in her posture. Slouching, decreased energy, causing her to be irritable, tired and aggravated.
There are also niche groups of women, air stewardess, that will have to deal with various stressful scenarios. Not only do they face at times tough customers on their flights, they also have to deal with working within small confined spaces over long periods of time. In addition, they have to deal with irregular hours, erratic sleep patterns and jet lag.
People who work at the front-line have to give the best to every customer they meet. Thus, they have to deal with immense pressure and workload that comes along with it.
In summary, these women may experience:
- Imbalances from leaning on one side
- Aches and back pains from long standing time
- Stressful situations and difficult customers, causing stress and unhappiness
- Slouching and increased irritability
4. Busy Students
Finally, on to the most unspoken group of women who also face just about the same amount of pressure - busy students.
A busy student can often find herself sitting down a lot. These long hours causes her to slouch over her books or laptop. She may also find a more comfortable position in the chair, which might mean leaning to one side of the chair, with one side of the shoulder raised.
When exams approach, her diet may become more erratic and not regular due to the amount of studying required. Spending time staying back in school for other activities on top of studying also makes things harder for her. She may face back, shoulder and forearms pains due to the way she uses her laptop. The body ends up having to deal with both internal and external stresses.
In addition, in the society we live in where there is a constant struggle to fit in with her peers, there may often be psychological pressures. This can be translated into a slouching posture should she not be confident. She may experience an increase in anxiety levels and fall into a forward head position or looking down frequently due to low self-esteem.
These are some issues that students may face. Having the right management methods and proper ways of dealing with these issues become complex, not just from a postural standpoint but from a psychological one as well.
In summary, busy students may experience:
- Slouching from long hours studying, using the laptops, and mobile phones
- Low self-esteem resulting in slouching posture
- Improper diet and nutrition
Women Specific Problems
We all know women have their own set of problems which men may not suffer from. The first which many women face and will experience is the pain felt while wearing stilettos or high heels. This is something that comes with a cost for beauty and looking good. The effects of wearing high heels long-term can cause calf stiffness, bad back pains and many other issues.
Next, having beautiful handbags (which sometimes can be very heavy) slung on your arms or on one side of your shoulders can often cause a slant in posture and overcompensation in the hips to counter the weight. This results in imbalanced muscle development and habitual slant walking gaits.
Finally, your breasts size can be a factor to why you might also be facing back pains and have a slightly forward curved posture. With the addition of other habits that adds on to the forward rotation of the arms and rounding of the back, your back will significantly become more rounded, which will lead to both upper and lower back pains.
Being aware of your body and how it is directly affected by external factors can help you to prevent the onset of such problems. Knowing where the root causes of the problems and how they occur will allow you to be in control and be more conscious. A helpful reminder to always not go back to the same old bad habits.
With all that said. Stay happy. Stretch frequently. Share your emotions. Move. Smile.
Article contributed by Emile Dumont, Founder of The Posture Lab.