VITKO CHIROPRACTIC CLINIC

Vitko Chiropractic Clinic - Yorkville
19 Yorkville Avenue West, Toronto,
Ontario M4W 1L1
Ph: 416-960-9355

Chiropractic Article by Doctor of Chiropractic
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DO'S AND DON'TS OF THE COUCH POTATO
by Dave Koivuranta D.C.

With the revival of the Fall television season, people across Toronto and anywhere in Canada will be bunkering down in their living rooms to hibernate for the winter. After being outdoors all summer, exercising and taking in Nature’s wonders, Canadians often convert their schedules to isolation and seclusion to avoid the potential of frost-bite and illness.
Unfortunate as this may be and as much as I’d like to see everyone maintaining a more active schedule focused on their health, both physically and mentally, the reality is T.V. has become a member of many families. To make the best of the situation I've listed some helpful hints for those of us who may take the winter hibernation a little too seriously. Even then, there's room for some balance.
First the don'ts :

Although a point of contention amongst researchers, it is best to not have the T.V. on as the only source of light in a dark room, for example at night. A primary light source should be on to provide background lighting without causing glare on the television screen. This will be easier on your eyes than staring at the light of the television which would be like looking at a light bulb if it was the only light on in a room.

Don’t do other things while watching television. If you have something else that needs to be done, than do only that activity because it’s better for you than television. Either that or just watch television. Life is just easier that way. Multitasking may be a priority at work, but don’t do it at home if you don't need to, it’s easier on your mind.

Avoid sitting or lying in awkward positions, especially when it comes to the neck. Also avoid always sitting or lying the same way or in the same positions and patterns. These habits over time can create problems so it pays to do some couch-cross-training and mix things up a little.

Eating seems to go hand in hand with television, habitually. Don't eat dinner with the T.V. on and if you need to snack while you lounge, stick to the “better” stuff like pretzels, fruit, nacho chips and salsa, etc. Potato chips, pop, cake, cookies and ice-cream will shorten your years of television watching, then you’ll never find out what happened on Coronation Street (or some other show).

Do not sleep on the couch. Couches were made for couching, not for sleeping. I have seen too many cases of torticollis (wry neck) to warrant even suggesting this is an “ok” practice. When you're tired, go to bed.
There are also some good points to lounging and some positive ways to take advantage of our downtime. Resting is good for our bodies and a little bit of fantasy in our lives is arguably “ok” depending on who you talk to. Here are some healthy habits to spruce up your couch time:

Take a tennis ball, a golf ball, a dowel of wood or a fancy specially designed contraption to massage your feet and gently to firmly move it back and forth along the bottom of your foot as you sit. This is healthy for your circulation, the joints in your feet and your knees and it also feels great on our often neglected five-toed friends.

Sit at approximately 120 degrees with good support behind your lower back and your neck. A lazy-boy recliner usually gets you into a good position but your T.V. may have to be a bit higher off the ground to fully benefit from the position. Sitting at 90 degrees is good for working at a desk or driving the car, but if you're going to be lounging, 120 degrees is the best way to relieve tension in the spine. Again, be sure to support the curves in your spine properly or you’ll lose the benefit of that position.

Stretching can be done while watching T.V. and can help unwind your muscles from daily activities. Gently moving and pulling your neck forward, backwards, from side to side and on 45 degree angles forward will help undo built up tension. Doing the same with wrists can avoid hand and wrist problems after a day of typing, gardening or machine work.

Arms and legs can also be exercised while sitting and is especially good if you have a good number or television lounging years under your belt. Take a soup can or slightly heavier object and raise your arms while holding it to make them work a little. Put the can in a sock or buy specific wrist and ankle weights that you can tie or attach to the ankles to do the same exercises for the legs. Ask a chiropractor, massage therapist or personal trainer how to specifically do these.

Drink water while you sit...it’s good for you.

Get up during commercials and move around a little...your joints and heart will thank you. Changing positions often is also a good idea.

Finally, how about getting a treadmill or stationary bicycle for in front of the T.V.? It's an investment that everyone in your household would benefit from and gives new meaning to “reality T.V.”. And yes, if it’s in front of the T.V., you will use it. Limiting your television viewing is a good idea, especially if you have children. Reading a book, playing a board game or bundling up to actually go outside in the winter are better alternatives for the daily gift of time we are given. However, for those of us who need our fix or simply choose to indulge, let’s make a conscious effort to make it a better experience for our health. That way, every episode will be a classic...hey, where’s the remote?