HOW CAN EGOSCUE AND ERGONOMICS HELP POSTURE?

HOW CAN AN EGOSCUE AND ERGONOMICS EXPERT HELP YOUR POSTURE?

Season 1 Episode 14

We talk to Zeena Dhalla, an Egoscue and Ergonomics expert, about how ergonomics and posture improvements can help you feel better and work better too!

James Crow
So hi everybody, it’s James from Posture Stars and today I’m talking to Zeena Dhalla who is a premier posture alignment specialist, certified ergonomic specialist, personal trainer and pilates instructor from Orange County, California area. I’m out of breath just talking about all your qualifications. Hi, Zeena, how you doing? Hi, Hi, James. Thanks for having me here. I’m so happy to be here. I’ve been waiting so long to speak to you, because there’s a lot of stuff that we have in common. And I really wanted to get an idea about what it is that you do with posture and how you help people with your posture. So it’s a perfect fit for the Posture Stars, podcast. So you’re in Orange County, California, and you’re working with individuals and with companies, is that right?

Zeena Dhalla
That is correct, yes. So I do posture alignment therapy to the egoscue method. I also do teach posture workshops for corporate teams such as Google, Microsoft, Red Bull, other large and small companies of all sizes. And then I do virtual ergonomics sessions, as well as teach a virtual ergonomics workshop. And then my company also also has a desk exercise programme that we implement, both for individuals and for corporations, perfect.

James Crow
And this is this is the ideal time for companies to be getting into that post COVID when they’re starting to have hybrid workforce. And so we’re really in need of that sort of thing. But don’t get me going on. So I’ll be moaning about it for half an hour on our podcast. So I have a series of questions that I like to ask posture specialists. And the first question, let’s get right on it is Zeena, what is posture?

Zeena Dhalla
Posture is how you sit and stand and move in space. So one of the mistakes that people make when working with me through the egoscue method. And for those of you who don’t know, the egoscue method is a form of postural alignment therapy, it’s the form of therapy that I practice is that in our practice, we often take pictures, steal pictures, and we watch people in awkward positions. Or people come in and say, Well, I look so rounded in my pictures, and I take pictures with family or friends. And they assume it has to do about their static posture. But it’s really so much more than that. So much of so much of it is involved with how we move, how we walk, how we stand, and that how we sit and work at our workstation. And that can contribute to how our muscles work, how our joints work, but also can contribute to how we feel about ourselves. You know, if you’re slouched over all day long, in a posterior pelvic tilt, that can make you feel downey and slouchy and fatigued. So it really can encompass the entire body, physical and mental as well.

James Crow
Yeah, totally. I have this discussion loads of times. And sometimes people counter it and say, Well, no, they say, improving your posture isn’t going to make you happier and more confident, it’s just going to change how you are physically. And I say, Well, you know, we’ll try and take your body to the supermarket without your brain and try and take your brain without your body they’re kind of kind of intermeshed. And there’s a lot of good research out there. And there’s a lot of bad research out there. But at the end of the day, if you hold yourself, well, I think you feel better about it. And you certainly feel more confident.

Zeena Dhalla
Yeah, you present yourself better to the universe, you feel better. Everything tends to work better things from your jaw, your eyes, your neck, I mean, everything can work better your digestion significantly can work better if your body is in the most optimal alignment. So we aim for optimal alignment, because that’s when we have the most efficiency in the body, when we can work better stand better, walk better, all those things. But yeah, it can really impact so many things. The body achieves what the mind believes it’s my favourite quote of all the body and mind in our interactions. I mean, if you’ve ever been nervous in your life, James, if you ever were nervous meeting me today, and you got a little butterflies in your stomach, you know, obviously there is a link between how we feel and what is happening in our brain, you know, so we have to take that into our posture as well.

James Crow
Yeah, totally. So speaking of taking it into your posture, what exactly do you do? How do you help people to improve their posture?

Zeena Dhalla
Yeah, so my goal is to give them the tools that they can utilise to help improve their bodies. So. So like I said, we’ll meet one on one with somebody, we’ll take a look at their pictures, we’ll look at them walk, we’ll look at them bend, then we’ll do some functional testing. And then I designed a home based exercise routine for them. So and what makes the egoscue method unique is we’ll have certain stretches that will hold one side or the other, or we’ll have certain exercises that may be a full body exercise that we are integrating a lot of different muscle groups, we may have an exercise that has an isolation aspect to it. So we’re only going to work the glutes here and nothing else. But then we also have a series of exercises where we’ll get someone to lay in a position for anywhere from five minutes to 60 minutes and allow the gravitational force and reading to realign the body. And I think that’s the missing link and a lot of corrective exercise programmes that the egoscue method has is that again, mental piece of it. Sometimes what it takes is for us to relax for us to allow the universe to shift us into a new position and grant by that I mean gravitational force, right. So So, you know, I’ll design this exercise programme for them, they’ll go away, they’ll do it every single day on their own. And then they come back a week later, sometimes two weeks later, depending on the client, we’ll reassess. How are they feeling? How are they walking? How are they standing, where’s their pain level, and then we’ll adjust that design. And so the goal is to give them a menu of exercises anywhere from 15 minutes to against 60 minutes, depending on their life and their schedule, and where they are and their pain. And for them to continue to do those exercises on a day to day basis. And it is like brushing your teeth. I mean, your posture work is something that I feel like we all need to be doing on a day to day basis because of our lifestyles, because our lifestyles are so stationary, so Oh rounded forward at a computer, that I’m of the philosophy that even if they’re not working with me, they might have 1, 2, 3 exercises that they keep in their back pocket forever, that will always help them just bring that body back into better alignment.

James Crow
Yeah. So I mean, what what I’ve been tending to do now is having people take parts of their working day and have as part of their job working on sorting their posture posture out, because otherwise, you know, it needs to be a daily thing. You can’t just say, I’m going to change my posture. And then 10 minutes later, well, yeah, you changed your posture for 10 minutes.

Right? Exactly. So there’s so many elements of that. So to to reflect on a comment you said about throughout the day. The other thing we do with the corporate work is teach people how to do this throughout the workday. So if someone’s working with me one on one, the exercises we’re going to give out might be exercises on the floor, or using a wall or using a block or something that requires some equipment and some time away from the workstation. But when I’m dealing with corporate clients, or in big teams, then the exercises we’re teaching them have to do with either sitting or standing at their workstation. So it may not be as customised for their particular posture, deviation, but some scapular retraction, some pelvic movement, I mean, those movements really can benefit anybody, anywhere, anytime. And that links me to the work that I also do with ergonomics. If you if you look at the research for ergonomics, more and more research is coming out about this concept of taking breaks. So why not when you take that break throughout your workday, physically and mentally why not do a posture exercise at the same time, why not retract your scapula? Why not activate your hip flexors, why not, you know, stretch your lower back, I mean, do all the things, we take the work from a egoscue method and really bring it to the workspace and the workstation as well. So two different separate practices, but all really aiming for the same goal.

Yeah and that’s becoming a lot more popular now where people are taking modalities like Pilates or yoga and bringing them to the workplace office environment where staff can apply those activities during the working day as opposed to after the working day in order to try and patch themselves together again, and ergonomics is becoming, it’s really coming in into its own at the moment at time of recording, it’s sort of mid 2022. If you’re listening to this in mid 2032, then I’m probably going to be even greyer than I am now. But at last people, and Zeena too, at last people were both sporting salt and pepper haircuts. And yeah, I was watching on video. There’s quite a lot of similarity going on. But yeah, more and more companies are starting to realise that they need an ergonomics programme for their staff. And that posture and ergonomics go hand in hand. So, you know, it’s always surprising when when we find companies who, who haven’t considered that or who are who are new into that arena and think, oh my gosh, we can get more productivity from our staff and our staff can be happier. So we’re more likely to retain them. And we can attract better quality staff by just having them look after what they do with themselves whilst they’re working. Which to me, it’s a no brainer. You know,

Zeena Dhalla
it’s a no brainer. So I can give you some statistics. So the, the numbers I mean, obviously there’s a bunch of extra studies out there but some other research studies that I have utilised in my workshops and things like that, if somebody’s in neck or back or hand or arm pain, their productivity can go down by up to 36%. I mean that’s 1/3 of their work day. And just by implementing some ergonomics changes and shifts, you can reduce musculoskeletal disorders by 64% Lost workdays by 88%. And then there was a new research study that just came out last year in 2021 on posture break, sorry, active breaks and postural shift interventions. And they’re showing that that concept of every 30 to 60 minutes taking a quick break or changing your posture or moving your body can reduce the onset of neck and low back pain between 55 and 80%. The reoccurrence between 65 and 78%. And it can reduce the recovery time by 100%. So I mean those are staggering numbers. Really, if there’s one thing you do in your life, it’s to learn how to take a positive break in the middle of your day. Improve productivity, you know, so I mean, that’s the overall goal. And you’re right. companies really need to embrace this and the day of working in an office five days a week, where you get to walk to the water cooler, and you stand by there and drink a water with your friend, or pick up coffee or climb the stairs for a meeting, those are gone. Now, we’re waking up in the morning, working from home a couple days a week, we’re sitting on our computer for a couple hours, maybe we get up to go pick up the kids from school, come back, go back to our computer, you know, I mean, the workforce is changing. And the workforce wants this change. I mean, I’m sure you’ve heard of the great resignation, right? People are quitting at alarming rates, what are they looking for, they’re not looking for more money, they’re not looking for a different title. They’re looking for work life balance. So they’re leaving these these sorts of companies that are still standing strong to those old fashioned ways of working to come to companies, where they where they can get that work life balance. And so what we try to encourage them to do as a company is if you can offer them ergonomics from the moment they start, your workers comp claims will go down, their productivity will go up, and they’re gonna feel appreciated. And you may be able to steal that person from from another company, not that I endorsed this, but you may be able to encourage someone to come to your team as a result of offering them these wellness benefits that people desperately desperately need.

James Crow
Yeah, totally. It’s an onboarding process. Why? Why would you want someone to work for you for four years, five years, until there’s a problem and then try and fix it, you need to be proactive about these, I just want to say that I’m not sure what’s more impressive than the stats that you’ve rolled off. Or the fact that you can remember all those stats.

Zeena Dhalla
I teach a lot of corporate workshops. Well, I put the statistics in the workshop, because I feel like people learn by doing. So by just saying this to James, you’re like, Whoa, I had no idea. So when people hear that, they go, Wow, I had no idea the impact of this, I always start every workshop with that really concrete research information. So people don’t think it’s just a fluff hour of useless time, we’re going to talk about elbow position, hip position and exercises. No, it’s really so much more significant than that. So I I do dig in every month and do my research and pull extract what I think will be useful for people to hear.

James Crow
So that’s really great. In the UK, here, we have a thing called DSC, which is kind of obligatory. And most people a lot of companies are doing 99p DSC is where you just tick a couple of boxes and say, I know my screen wants to be at this height and my elbow wants to be doing this and and companies who are still offering that I think are completely missing the boat with regards to employee retention and wellbeing strategies and actually having interactive sessions with someone like yourself or like myself is the answer to that problem.

Zeena Dhalla
It really is. And we I mean, we believe people learn by doing. So our workshops not only include the exercises that we encourage people to do on camera with us, we do a live posture assessment. So for teaching a posture workshop on the biomechanics of posture, and some of the things that you and I both know about different posture deviations, we teach a workshop on that. So for teaching that workshop, we’ll have somebody actually stand up on camera, after we’ve given them the theory. So we go through all the theory of like, this is what kyphosis is, this is what lordosis is, this is what swayback is. And then we have people analyse their appear. And it’s actually so fun when you have an engaged team. And they’re like, Oh, I see it, oh, look at their feet, look at their knees, look at their head. And if they can do it for their peers, and they could do it for themselves, right. And that same thing with the ergonomics workshop, we’ll do. We’ll get pictures ahead of time for that one. And we’ll put them on screen again, after we’ve given the theory of how you should be sitting and standing at your desk. People will go Oh, yeah, that back of the chair needs to come apart. Oh, look, the elbow position is too small, you know, so that, again, learn by doing modality makes a huge difference. I mean, listen, I work for Google, they’re my biggest customer. They have a huge ergonomics team. But people if they’re not fully engaged in it, unless it’s in front of their face, it’s really hard to get them to watch a video or take from a slide deck. What to do, they really need to be told engaged with be part of the process. And so I feel like that’s what we excel at and what my company is doing well.

James Crow
Yeah, that’s perfect. I guess you do. We don’t tend to have it in the UK Lunch and Learn is that a US thing?. Yeah, yeah, we should

Zeena Dhalla
We do lunch and learns for HR teams. And then like I said, we’ll do virtual events for Google depending on like if they have a social hour, and they want something fun to be done. I’m doing one of those on Thursday.

James Crow
Fantastic! So that’s my third question, which is, if you were to offer some advice to our listeners, right now, if there’s one thing that they could do to improve their posture, Zeena, what would that be?

Zeena Dhalla
I would say do some really simple scapular retraction throughout your day, just wake up those muscles behind you. So sit up tall, bring your hands down by your sides. Just squeeze your shoulder blades together behind you and release and do that 10 times and then go back to typing at your computer. I mean, there’s a gazillion other exercises I could give you. But this that simple act of waking up those muscles, pulling the shoulders back and reminding yourself where your shoulder should be in space where your head should be in space that little tiny acts, you do 10 of those three times a day four times a day, that’s a good start for at least getting you out of the slouchy forward head position that a majority of us are in throughout the day.

James Crow
Yeah, and I love that because it’s a really simple thing to do. You know, it’s not like having to hang yourself upside down from a bar and touch your left toe with your right ear hole. And you know,

Zeena Dhalla
We could do that, if you want! I also love doing chest stretching, just grabbing onto the back of your chair, sticking your chest out, squeezing your shoulder blades together, keeping your elbows straight, just a quick little simple chest rate, stress stretches, amazing thing to do, just sitting up tall and maybe doing some pelvic tilts where you’re just tucking and arching your pelvis while you’re even typing on the keyboard. You don’t even have to I mean, I’m talking to you right now, James, as we’re doing this podcast, and you can see sort of my my shoulder movement here. But I’m doing some pelvic curls. I’m sitting in my kneeling chair, you know, so

James Crow
I thought that was an earthquake going on in California.

Zeena Dhalla
But there’s just some simple little things you know, we do glute contractions in so James is watching me now, you know, up and down, popping up and down in the video. And I’m just engaging my glutes, releasing my glutes, engaging my glutes, releasing my glutes. And again, I don’t have to take my hands off the keyboard to do that. Right. I can be on a video call, turn off my video, do some glute contractions, turn the video back on again. Keep it on entertain people. So yeah, simple little things that you can deal with throughout your day at your workstation that will give you that must have blood flow to the muscles. Really at the end of the day is what we’re looking

James Crow
Simple little things there. There we have it. Great Zeena. That’s fantastic. It’s been great speaking to you. How do people get ahold of you? If they want to find you.

Zeena Dhalla
Yes, they can go to my website verticalign.com. All of our services are listed on there. There’s a contact us page, there’s a link to be able to book a discovery call. So all the resources are there It’s verticalign So let’s take vertic and align put it together verticalign.com

James Crow
Fantastic! Zeena Thanks so much for your time. It’s been really informative. It’s been lovely to speak to you and I hope that’s been useful to our listeners as well. You’ve been listening to the Posture Stars podcast. This is James signing over and out. Goodbye Zeena.

Zeena Dhalla
Thank you for having me.

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