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Dr Krista Burns – Simple Steps to Identify and Address Digital Dementia

Content by: Krista Burns

Watch the full interview below or listen to the full episode on your iPhone HERE.

Stu: This week, I’m excited to welcome Dr. Krista Burns, who is the co-founder of The American Posture Institute. Dr. Krista has made a life’s work to help others learn every detail about posture and how to become posture experts in their communities. She routinely travels the world teaching the importance of posture and how to address the issues arising from our ever expanding digital lifestyles. In this episode, we talk about how to safeguard ourselves against digital dementia and the strategies that we can utilise to combat postural and cognitive decline, enjoy …

Audio Version

downloaditunesListen to Stitcher Questions we ask in this episode:

  • What is Digital Dementia and why should we be aware of it?
  • What are your suggestions for those of us with desk-bound jobs?
  • Can we build in specific movements into our exercise routine with postural decline in mind?

Get More of Dr. Krista Burns

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Full Transcript

Stu

00:03 Hey, this is Stu from 180 Nutrition and welcome to another episode of the health sessions. It’s here that we connect with the world’s best experts in health, wellness, and human performance in an attempt to cut through the confusion around what it actually takes to achieve a long lasting health. Now I’m sure that’s something that we all strive to have. I certainly do.

Before we get into the show today, you might not know that we make products too, that’s right. We’re into whole food nutrition and have a range of super foods and natural supplements to help support your day. If you are curious, want to find out more, just jump over to our website. That is 180nutrition.com.au and take a look. Okay. Back to the show.

This week, I’m excited to welcome Dr. Krista Burns, who is the co-founder of The American Posture Institute. Dr. Krista has made a life’s work to help others learn every detail about posture and how to become posture experts in their communities. She routinely travels the world teaching the importance of posture and how to address the issues arising from our ever expanding digital lifestyles. In this episode, we talk about how to safeguard ourselves against digital dementia and the strategies that we can utilize to combat postural and cognitive decline. Now, there is definitely something for every one of us in this conversation. So without further ado over to Dr. Krista.

Hey guys, this is Stu from 180 Nutrition and I am delighted to welcome Dr. Krista to the podcast. Dr Krista, how are you?

Krista

01:39 Oh, I’m doing so good. Thank you so much for this opportunity to chat today.

Stu

01:42 No, we’re really, really intrigued to pick your brains on your specialist topic. So before we get into that and first step for all of our listeners that may not be familiar with you, I would love it if you could just tell them a little bit about yourself.
Krista: 01:58 Absolutely. My name is Dr. Krista Burns and I’m the co-founder of The American Posture Institute. And at The American Posture Institute we teach healthcare providers how to become the go-to posture experts in their community. Now, how I got my start originally was from an injury. Many of us go through either a health crisis or an injury ourselves that then leads us down the path of health care.

So I originally wanted to be an Olympic skier. That was my first love, my first goal, my first dream and passion and was well on my way. I was Olympic bound, I was competing on US development ski team, suffered an injury in my spine. And from there I just became obsessed with helping people with back pain because that was something that prevented me from achieving my goals and dreams. And I didn’t want back pain to hold other people back. So fast forward, graduated from school, created The American Posture Institute with signature postural correction systems to help, not just with back pain, but overall function, structure, and neurology of the body to help us live healthier lives. And then we’ll talk more about digital dementia. But what we started noticing is that postural decline is also associated with neurologic defects. So we’ll dive deeper into that throughout today’s discussion.

03:11 Fantastic. Yeah, interesting story. And so you mentioned digital dementia and I am really, really interested in that at the moment and partly because tech has changed wildly since I was a boy. And now it seems that we’re beholden to these mobile devices that are physically changing the way that we’re thinking and they’re rewiring our brains. But they’re also changing our posture too because we get this crazy downward stoop all hours where we’re hunched over our desks and perhaps we’re not as active as we used to be. So first up, I’d love for you to give me a little bit of rundown of what digital dementia actually is and why you think that we should be aware of it.

Krista

04:01 Absolutely. Well, at The American Posture Institute, we say that posture is declining at the speed of technology. And so just as fast as technology is evolving, we’re seeing a de-evolution of human function and structure. So what digital dementia is, is digital dementia is non-Alzheimer’s specific, dementia like symptoms in adolescents caused from the overstimulation of technology combined with poor lifestyle habits. Let me break that apart because I just said a big phrase. So it’s non- Alzheimer’s meaning that it’s not due to physical changes in your brain associated with certain proteins or genes, however it’s acquired. If we were to look up the word dementia with the Alzheimer’s association, what it would tell us is that dementia is not a specific disease, it’s a set of symptoms associated with poor focus, short term memory loss with poor visual focus as well, and confusion with daily activities.

And so if you’ve ever felt confusion, short term memory loss, inability to focus, these are tightening early dementia like symptoms and now it’s caused from the overstimulation of technology combined with poor lifestyle habits. So I’d be a hypocrite if I said we just needed to get rid of technology together. We’re actually connecting from across the world because of our ability to connect via tech. And we love that. We love the opportunities that technology has provided to us as a human species. However, we need to recognize the limitations associated with it as well. When we’re overstimulated from our technology, it’s stimulating certain parts of our brain. But when we’re sedentary, when we have poor posture and we’re overstimulated from technology, we’re under stimulating other parts of our brains. We’ll pick that part a little bit more. But what this is resulting in is dementia like symptoms of confusion, learning disorders, short term memory loss in children as young as eight, nine, 10 years old. And now they’re growing up in a world where it’s normal to have technology from the time you’re born up through adulthood.

The difference between us, Stu, and children now is that we didn’t have technology as a big part of our lives until later on. Until we were adults, right? Whereas infants now are born into a world where they get that digital babysitter. So I think it’s really important that we have this discussion now, not to get rid of technology, not to blame technology, but to recognize our ability to pay it forward to the next generation, the importance of having healthy lifestyle habits associated with technology.

Stu

06:33 Yeah, fantastic. And telltale signs of digital dementia, and you touched on poor concentration, brain fog, attention, all of that stuff. But physical telltale signs as well. I’m interested to hear.

Krista

06:49 Yeah. So what I always tell parents for themselves, for adults as well as for checking for your children is there’s three primary signs of tech fatigue and tech fatigue is a precursor to digital dementia. So if we start experiencing tech fatigue and we recognize these symptoms or the signs early, it’s great because we can go in and make some changes to prevent it from getting worse. So three signs of tech fatigue include the following. Number one is tech neck posture. So tech neck is that posture that you get from looking down at your cell phone or being hunched forward on your computer. Right? So what happens with tech neck is our ears should be aligned over our shoulders. When we look down at our devices, we go into forward flection or when we’re staring at our computer screen, we tend to go forward with our shoulders and jet our heads forward in this position.

So number one is watching for tech neck posture. And you can easily watch for this, just watch your child or watch your spouse on their devices when they don’t know that you’re observing them and see their posture. And you can instantly tell if they have tech neck.
Number two is spending more than two hours per day on devices for recreational use. And the reason it’s more than two hours is because what new research from 2019 from The National Institute of Health shows that when children spend more than two hours per day on devices, it can impact their scores for learning, for reading and for writing. So let’s make sure that we keep that to a healthy minimum. And then number three, the third sign of tech fatigue is behavioral changes associated with tech. So let me give you some examples of that. Let’s say that your child has been watching Netflix while texting while on their computer for the last hour seated on the couch. And you encourage them to go outside and play instead and they really fight back. Or they have those behavior changes that are really submissive because they want to be on their devices. Or they even have signs of withdrawal. For example, if you forgot your cell phone one day at work, would you have withdrawal effects? Would you feel anxious without your smartphone?

So if you’re seeing those behavioral changes, this another indication of tech fatigue. So quick review on those. Number one is tech neck posture. Number two is more than two hours per day, digital device use for recreational purposes. And number three is behavioral changes associated directly with technology.

Stu

09:09 Got it. And how does that stack up from child to adult? I mean, are we looking at similar metrics?

Krista

09:16 We are looking at similar metrics. With adults we can tolerate more time on devices than children because children have those developing immature brains. And for all of our parents who are listening, I want to encourage you here because when you limit device time from a young age, this becomes the child’s new norm, right? Instead of just handing them a device as a digital babysitter, which I’m not putting anybody down for doing this, but instead of handing them a device, start teaching them other things that they can be doing instead of spending all of their free time on devices.

Because those immature brains are developing the neural connections that will stick with them the rest of their life. So let’s make sure that the inputs we’re putting into the nervous system are stimulatory. From great sensations, like being outdoors in nature, from having conversations as a family, having loving connections, real true connection versus being disconnected on tech.

Stu

10:12 Boy, oh boy. It’s funny because I’m a parent, so I’ve got three young girls. I’ve got twins at 10 soon to be 11 and my eldest is 14 years old. So three girls in the house and they think that I’m a grumpy old man because I continually tell them, “Girls, I remember the time before the Internet, before mobile phones, before this digital distraction, and it was good because we used to go outside and we would explore and we’d find our boundaries.” And now, boy, the world is such a radically different place and their lives are so different to what mine or what mine used to be when I was growing up.

So for me to try and address all of these situations without being the grumpy dad, like lunatic at home who wants to… It’s almost like a hippy retreat. How easy do you think that this is to try and change, I guess this space that these girls are growing up in at the moment, given the fact that all of their friends are doing exactly the same thing? So hard.

Krista

11:30 Yeah. And I really respect that question because it’s practical, right?

Stu

11:30 Yeah.

Krista

11:34 If we can look at the facts and we nod our head in agreement going, yes, this is scary. But then we think practically like how could we actually make a change? Right. And so I really appreciate this question and what’s important to think about is we have to view the generation below us with empathy. Because we did grow up in a different world and tech was brought into our world versus us being brought into a world with technology. And so we have a different perception of it. With that being said, being empathetic to the next generation and it’s not about getting rid of technology and it’s not about putting down anybody who’s using their devices. Again, I wouldn’t want to sound like a hypocrite here as we have a conversation on digital technology, but it’s just about having those healthy tech boundaries.
One of the recommendations I give families all the time is called digital detox doses. And that’s three one hour intervals throughout the day that the whole family agrees on is going to be a digital detox dose. And during those one hour intervals, there’s a special place in the home where everybody puts their devices, whether it’s in the kitchen, on a charging station, whether it’s in a basket by the front door. Wherever it is, everybody puts their devices there. And these are committed three one hour intervals that are digital detox doses. My best recommendations are the first hour when you wake up in the morning, the last hour before going to bed at night and then an hour around the dinner table.

And so by starting this habit, you’re instantly bringing back technology and giving more control to the family of making better health choices. So you’re not throwing away the cell phones, but what you are doing is saying, as a family, we’re choosing to have healthy behaviors with our tag. And we’re allocating these three one hour intervals every day that we come together as a family that were active. That we’re outside taking a walk or getting our exercising. So it’s not about getting rid of technology, it’s living with technology, with healthier lifestyle habits.
Stu: 13:30 Brilliant. Love it. And I love the fact that you mentioned beginning of the day, meal times, evening meal perhaps and before bed because those are so pivotal to A, start the day in the right direction as opposed to signing up your mobile phone and being bombarded with all this crazy news and distractions that really set you off on tizz for the rest of the day. But then we’ve got that community space during meal times and then of course all the disruptions that you could quite easily or could quite easily sabotage your sleep as well. So how have you found perhaps the beginning of the day and the end of the day to have impact on perhaps the young brain? And because I know that we’re so open to digital distractions, but I guess all of the spiraling habits that can quite easily be programmed in by the use of these things.

Krista

14:31 Yeah, another great question. So when we start our morning with technology, then it’s controlling our day before we even get out of bed. So it’s interesting about our smart phones is they’re pretty dang smart, right? I mean, we’ve managed to replace our clocks, our flashlights, like our timers. We’ve replaced so many things with one device, even our computers in many circumstances. We’ve replaced all of this with one device.

And so we have to be very conscious aware of not outsourcing our brain and not outsourcing our social activities directly to our devices. So when we wake up and we’re instantly stimulating ourselves with artificial stimulation from our devices and we’re checking social media or checking email, which is what we do when we get on our devices, then we’re starting the day in somebody else’s rhythm, somebody else’s cadence. Because that email comes in saying that we have a deadline at work, or there was an emergency that happened last night, respond now. Or you check social media and that compare and despair starts to set in where you start seeing what other people are up to and you start comparing your life. So now you start your day on somebody else’s term terms and you’re feeding your body with unnatural stimulation versus getting up and doing exercise that’s going to stimulate your energy systems and help you lead a healthier life. So that’s what happens when we start our day with social media.

Krista

16:00 And then what happens when we’re ending our day, that last hour before going to bed, is you have to realize that those devices, not only are they designed to keep us on them so we easily lose track of time, they’re designed so that we have dopamine rushes in our brain. And what dopamine is, it’s that hormone that makes us feel good, it makes us feel rewarded to get something. Now, you have to realize that your device is as addictive as sugar. And so, just as it feels so good, even when you’re on a diet, you’re like, “Oh, I just want to have a cupcake.” And then you feel good for a single instant, and then you go down a spiral going, “Oh, I shouldn’t have had that cupcake. Why did I do that?” Right? And so, if we’re going on a diet, we want to take those cupcakes out of the house.

If we want to start taking our time back from our devices, we have to limit the amount of time used and set those boundaries. And so, when we’re laying in bed and we’re on our devices, we’re being hit with blue light now blue light, by nature standards, if you like outside, what color is the sky? It’s blue. And so, our natural blue light is beautiful. It creates that circadian rhythm that we live by. It helps us get tired in the evenings when it gets dark. It helps us feel awake and alert in the morning when we see a blue sky. However, artificial blue light coming from our devices is stimulatory in all the wrong times. So, whereas, we should be preparing our bodies for sleeping in a sleep sanctuary, many of us stay awake on our devices. That’s keeping us awake, and it’s ruining those cycles of melatonin, which is our natural production of sleep hormones.

And so, by being on our devices late at night, the dopamine says, “Stay on your device. Stay on your device,” and then the blue light’s activating so you feel wide awake when you should be preparing for sleep. So, both sides of the spectrum, there’s negative health effects, and so I highly recommend that the first hour of your day is in control by you, preferably connecting with your family or outside doing activity and doing exercise. And that last hour before going to bed, again, connecting with family and preparing your body for rest.

Stu

17:59 Great advice. Fantastic. Then the physical implications of children using the devices, and you mentioned tech neck and everything else that comes with that. How can we best mitigate that? Are there any exercises or stretches or movements, perhaps, that we should be thinking about for the kids?

Krista

18:21 Yeah, 100%. So, when you think about tech neck posture, and again, you can check this on kids very simply just by watching them hold the device and if you see that the ears go forward in relation to the shoulders. When it comes to adult patients, just by leaning forward, looking down at our cell phones, that’s adding 60 pounds of pressure onto our cervical spine, 60 pounds of pressure. So, I mean, that’s like having a child sitting on your head. I mean, that’s so much… Or going to the gym and grabbing a plate and placing it on your head. This is so much weight that is being placed on those shoulders. So, there’s no wonder why your child is saying, “Oh, I feel stiff and sore,” or “I have a headache, I have migraines.” Much of this is postural related. And so, if we can reduce forward head posture, we can prevent those structural deformities that then lead to symptoms.

And so, what we want to do is we want to think about bringing our devices up to eye level for number one. So, one of the best ways of looking at your smartphone is to bring your elbows in close to your body and hold your device right here. So, instead of looking down and bringing your eyes down, we’re just bringing our elbows into our body and holding our device here. And what I like about holding the elbows in close to the body is that your arms won’t get tired. I mean, this is not sustainable. You’re not going to be able to hold your arms up to look at your device, and I completely understand that. So, just bring your arms in close, and then hold your device here. And you can still scroll social media and feel comfortable, and now you’re not looking down. So, from a habit perspective, make sure your computer screen and your device is both up to eye level.

And then, for an exercise, this is something that we can all do. It’s very simple to implement and highly beneficial in this day and age. It’s just called a neck retraction. And so, what we want to do, we can all do this at home, is you’re just going to place one finger on your chin, and you’re going to press your chin back by sliding back and retracting. So, what I didn’t do is I didn’t go up and back like this. My eyes stay parallel with the ground, and I press back and hold. And if you’re doing this against a wall, you’re just going to press the back of your head in against the wall and keep your back flat against the wall. Hold that for 10 seconds. Nice pressure for 10 seconds, hold, hold, hold, and then go forward, and repeat that five times. That’s a great way of reversing the forward head posture associated with tech neck. So, just implementing the bringing devices up to eye-level and doing neck retractions will help offset the structural component associated with tech neck posture

Stu

20:56 Great. Fantastic. And five times each day? Multiple times a day? How would you do that?

Krista

21:03 Yeah, morning and afternoon is perfect.

Stu

21:06 Okay, brilliant.

Krista

21:07 Yeah.

Stu

21:07 Fantastic. Boy, we’re certainly opening up lots of little gems here. I’m very keen to share this. So, moving on, then, from the kids, so now we’re into my territory, the adults. And again, workplace has changed radically over the last three or four decades in terms of tech coming in. Many of us are desk-bound, and oftentimes, we don’t have the luxury of the correct ergonomic set up, sit/stand desks, things like that. So, what are your suggestions for those of us that do have the stereotypical desk-bound job where we are hunched over the screen for best part of eight hours each day?

Krista

21:57 Yeah. I’m so glad that you asked this question because, honestly, desks are the demise of human posture. I mean, posture’s declining at the speed of technology, and we are just sitting there and taking it. And what’s interesting about human physiology is that we’re designed to be athletic, we’re designed to stand upright. And what’s phenomenal about our humanistic capabilities is we have these great bodies that we can actually balance upright over a small base of support. So, if you compare us to animals, for example, animals balanced their bodies in a quadruped position, and so their massive bodies are balanced over all fours. Human beings, on the other hand, we evolved to be upright, and what’s so cool about this is we balance our whole bodies over our little feet. And because we do this, we can experience the world from up here, and we can have so much incoming sensory afferentation. And that’s just a big word that means that we have incoming sensations from our world that help us experience the world in a humanistic manner.

So, anytime we’re upright, and we’re in an upright, extended posture, we’re in our best humanistic posture. Every time we start de-evolving down here, it starts impacting the incoming sensations to our brain. And if we’re filling those sensations with technology, with our computers, then we’re just getting the artificial stimulation direct from the devices. So, this is taking away from our humanistic capabilities. And so, what we need to do is we need to be mindful of this. You don’t need to quit your job. Don’t worry about that. I’m not saying quit your job. I’m not saying throw away your laptop or get rid of your device. What I’m saying is that we need to be aware that if we don’t be proactive of being more active throughout our work day and having better posture and better incoming stimulations, then we can go down the path of getting digital dementia.

So, here’s what I would love to see all of our desk workers do. Number one, if you don’t have that expensive standup desk, that’s completely fine. Find different times throughout your day that you can be standing. So, if you do meetings, try and do standing meetings. If you do calls, walk and talk, right? Walk and talk by plugging in your ear buds, just like we’re doing here. And with a standup desk, too, if you’re doing research, for example, or filing, you can just place an old textbook or something underneath your computer to bring it up to eye level so you can work standing up. You don’t have to invest in this crazy ergonomic equipment in order to have better ergonomic lifestyle. Okay? So, stand up as much as possible. The best ratio is three to one where you’re standing three times the amount that you’re sitting.
What I don’t want you to hear me say is that you need to stand all day. Because if you go from sitting all day to standing all day tomorrow, you’re going to have back pain. Your feet are going to hurt. You’re going to go, “Oh man, I can’t do this. I feel exhausted.” So, you want to break up your day between sitting and standing. And then, when you are sitting, I want you to start engaging in active sitting. Now, active sitting is one of the best things that you can do for your body and your posture system. So, with active sitting, if you’re seated on an instable surface, for example a posture cushion or an exercise ball, then you’re moving. So, these instable surfaces, we have the potential of falling off them, and that’s a good thing. So, for example, if you’re seated on an exercise ball and you start to get a little bit lazy and your posture starts to become distorted, you actually risk falling off the exercise ball. Why this is a good thing is because it stimulates your posture system to bring you back to center.

If you’re seated in a normal chair, you literally can’t fall out of the chair. It’s really hard to fall out of a chair, right? These chairs are just built to keep us in them. And so, even when I have the worst posture possible, the chair holds me upright. And that’s why I’m not forced to re-correct my posture. So, when you’re seated on an exercise ball, you can’t get lazy, and if you do, you’re quickly reminded and then your body naturally re-corrects by stimulating your vestibular system for balance, by engaging your core musculatures to bring you back to center. And you’re just moving more in general, so you’re increasing mobility throughout your joints. Okay? So, we want to stand as much as we can. Three to one is that ideal ratio, somewhere in between. As long as we’re standing more often than not. And then, active sitting while we’re sitting, so instead of just sitting in that old chair. And within your workspace, if you can’t bring an exercise ball in because it’s disruptive, if it rolls around, just grab a small posture cushion. It serves the exact same purpose, and you can just easily put it on your seat and it won’t be disruptive to anybody around you. So, that’s a great solution there, as well. And they’re very inexpensive. I think it costs you like 20 bucks.
And then the other thing that I want everybody to implement, and this is only going to take four minutes of your entire day, is called posture breaks. So, with a posture break, the reason we want to implement this is because we’re constantly working against the force of gravity. We’ll never beat it, but we have to live with it and live healthier. And so, gravity presses us down, so by the end of the day, we’re here, right? Well, some of us by 9:30. We get to the office at 9:00, and by 9:30 we’re here. We’re seated the rest of the day in this position. So, a posture break goes antigravity. So, what we want to do is we can perform this together right now is you’re going to just bring your arms out to the side, palms up, press your chest forward, and drop your head back. And just hold this position for 30 seconds, and focus on having deep diaphragmatic respirations for 30 seconds. And what you’re going to notice is that after the 30 seconds passes, you feel stretched out, so where as your normally compressed here anteriorly, you feel more open. And because we’re stimulating our posture system, we’re going to feel more focused, which helps prevent digital dementia, which helps us prevent that brain fog that we start to feel mid-afternoon because we’re tired.

So, take 30 seconds every hour you’re on tech and perform a posture break. Okay? So, if we can commit to that, that’s only four minutes of your work day, and it’s going to help you dramatically stay better focused and help your posture system so that you can be healthier at your workplace. So, standing up as much as possible. If you don’t have a standup desk, find more opportunities of walking and talking. Stand up while you’re doing things like filing. And then, active sitting and then posture breaks for 30 seconds every hour that you’re on your tech.
Stu: 28:27 Fantastic. Boy oh boy. I always come away from these podcasts with these little fantastic little gems that can, and will, make a profound difference to the way that we feel and think and organize our days, as well. So, yeah, the posture break, brilliant, brilliant. I’m going to do it today, and I’m going to tell everybody in my office, “You’ve got to do this. And this is why we’ve got to do it, and this is who told me.” So, fantastic.

Krista

28:51 Yeah. It’s so simple, right?

Stu

28:51 Totally.

Krista

28:53 It’s such a simple thing.

Stu

28:54 Totally.

Krista

28:54 But here’s the thing guys, and I’m glad you mentioned this, is we’re programmed… We’ve had our posture for many years before today, right? I’ve had this posture for 34 years before today’s podcast. And so, what’s going to happen is that after listening to the podcast, you’re going to go back to work, and you’re going to feel really good. You’re going to think, “I’m going to have great posture today.” And then, life will take over, and suddenly you’re right back here. And so, in order to be successful and to remember to do your posture breaks, what I want you to do is set a posture reminder. And this can either be a positive use of technology by setting an alarm on your phone, or you could just put a little sticker on your computer, and it doesn’t even matter what the sticker is, whether it’s a little star, whether it’s a red dot, that’s your posture sticker. Every time you see it, it reminds you to have better posture, and it reminds you to take your posture breaks throughout the day. Because even when we have the best intentions, sometimes we forget with starting these new habits, so set yourself up for success from the beginning.

Stu

29:51 Absolutely right. And you know what? You read my mind because I was thinking, now we can actually use these digital devices for good. And I’ve got a reminder on my phone to drink water every hour because you just get so sucked in to whatever you’re doing, and time just slips away. And before you know it, four hours is gone, you haven’t eaten, you haven’t drunk, you haven’t moved. And like you said, we are de-evolving, and I really love that you use that word because it’s really visual, to de-evolve. Crickey. Nobody wants that, right? It’s insane.

Krista

30:30 No. And if you think about those visuals, right? You’ve seen those photos that show evolution, and regardless of our beliefs, just if we look at that visual, it’s a good reminder. So, you see the apes that are hunched over and then moving upwards, and then we see someone at their desks sitting just like this. You can actually see the evolution taking place. And so, we’re on a mission at the American Posture Institute. I love being able to talk about this and bring it to light so that we can be more mindful of our posture and our tech habits.

Stu

31:00 Brilliant. Brilliant. This is great. I’m learning so much for myself, which is… Thank you so much. So, I’ve got a question. Concerning the way we excise, so the way that we’ll go to the gym and we’ll perform whatever routine, whatever exercise strategy that is the next big thing, whether it be high intensity or weights or endurance. Many of us do it for vanity metrics, and I get it, everybody wants to look good, as well. Are we impacting our posture in terms of this de-evolution that we’re talking about, as well, by doing the wrong thing after spending a whole day in this hunched position? If we are, what should we introduce into our time, perhaps, in the gym to help offset that?

Krista

31:59 Yeah.

Krista

32:00 Yeah. You know, one of the greatest fitness myths that we have to debunk right here, right now, is that you’re going to get a strong core by doing sit ups and crunches.

Stu

32:09 Yeah.

Krista

32:09 So here’s the thing, for everybody who’s listening, and here’s also … I want to say something about that vanity metric because here’s the cool thing about posture, is when you have great posture, you look better instantly. You look thinner in an instant just by standing up taller.

Stu

32:24 Yeah.

Krista

32:24 So if you’re going to the gym, working on your vanity metrics, which, I do it to, then if you want to add to that without doing more work, just stand up straighter and have great posture and you’re already helping support better health and human function plus looking better instantly. Okay, here’s the thing with when it comes to crunches and sit ups. For all of my ladies who are listening in, I want you to listen here so that you can get nice core activation without ruining your posture system. So, many of our habits are what’s called flexor dominant. Gravity’s pressing us down forward into flexion. We need to reverse this, and go into upright extension. And so if we go to the gym after sitting at our computer all day long, and then we do crunches, we’re reinforcing more flexor dominance.

Stu

33:13 Yeah.

Krista

33:14 We do chest presses and just work the anterior component of our body. We’re reinforcing flexor dominance. If we go on the stationary bike and we’re down, hunched over that stationary bike, yes, we’re working our legs, but we’re reinforcing more of that flexor dominant posture. So these are ruining the posture system, even though we’re trying to be proactive by going to the gym. So I really appreciate everybody who already has that built in of working out every day. But if we can make simple switches to the exercises that we’re doing, let’s get rid of crunches, let’s get rid of sit ups, let’s avoid being hunched over the stationary bike.

And if you’re working your chest, doing chest press, make sure that you’re also working your back and stimulating those paraspinal musculature to hold your shoulders back in upright posture. Now another thing is we want to do extension exercises. So you guys have probably done the Superman or superwoman exercise where you lay flat on your belly. And if this is my stomach here, I lift my head and upper body up, and I lift my feet up. And I’m engaging the posterior chain of my body to reverse slouch forward, flexor dominant posture. So I’m stimulating upright extension.

Now you don’t want to do a ton of repetitions. What I care more about is that you hold that nice contraction and proper posture. So if you can work up to doing this three times for 30 seconds, that’s a great way of stimulating great posture. And while you’re in the gym, now you’re supporting great posture habits. And if we’re seated all day long, then we need to make sure that we’re not reinforcing that more while we’re in the gym by doing flexion. So work those mirror muscles, I get you, but addition to that, don’t forget about stimulating your posterior chain, and making sure that we can hold our shoulders back and press our chest forward. And when you do, you’ll look better in an instant, you’ll move better, and you’ll feel better. And you’ll have great posture.

Stu

35:12 Yeah, that’s great advice. I haven’t done the Superman moves for a long time and I remember … and we used to do the pre CrossFit classes. It was one of their opening exercises in stretching. Boy it was uncomfortable, but I reckon it was uncomfortable because just not used to doing that. And we are, like you said, we’re so dominant in this caveman cram crunch that, yeah we should get more into that. What about things like just hanging, hanging off a bar? How would that work?

Krista

35:44 Yeah, that’s really great for just lessening the amount of pressure on your joints.

Stu

35:48 Right.

Krista

35:49 So while we’re seated, for example, we actually add a lot more pressure onto the joints of our hips and our spine. I think about 25% more just from being seated and, again, looking down at our cell phones, we’re adding up to 60 pounds of pressure. So I like that idea of hanging because we’re decompressing the amount of pressure on our joints.

Stu

36:08 Great, fantastic. So wanted just to dial in then to you personally, because you quite clearly have a huge wealth of knowledge in this area. So how do you personally manage your day where digital devices are concerned, and also with a want to support your posture?

Krista

36:33 Yeah, so I start my day with exercise. First thing out the gate. I don’t wake up to my cell phone. I sleep with my phone in another room so that I’m actually using a clock to wake up, and I’m not tempted to just grab my device and let social media control my day. And so I wake up, always exercise straight away in the morning. And then I’m going to start work. Now here’s the thing, I spend a lot of time doing content creation, and if I’m not careful, I can easily mistake spending time on social media for creating meaningful content for my community, right?
If we’re not intentional about our time on our devices, we can actually force ourself to think that we’re working. But what we’re really doing is looking on social media. So it’s really important to have those blocks of time that are specific for creation and creativity, but that looks different for everybody. For me, that’s a lot of writing. And when I’m in those creative zones, I need to do that early in the morning. That’s my creative time. I really need to tap into my right brain. Now while doing that too, if you need help getting into that right brain stance, or that right brain state of mind, you can do a quick meditation before, you can control your breathing to go into a parasympathetic state, you can listen to some classical music, because here’s what happens.

The second you open your device, devices stimulate your left brain, which is very analytical, very detail oriented. So if you need to do creative work, such as content creation, then I want you to make sure that you’ve activated your right brain going into that focus session of getting your right brain work done. Okay, so that’s really important. And then I always set an alarm so that I make sure that I do my posture breaks. I have a posture reminder, I wear a bracelet. Plus I have a sticker on my computer that reminds me to have good posture because even myself, right? This is my life’s work, but I can forget about my posture throughout the day too.

Stu

38:25 Yeah.

Krista

38:27 So I made sure to set myself up for success by having those posture reminders in place. And I spend the majority of my day standing and walking around as much as possible. I take breaks at lunch, and I like to work out twice during the day so that I’m active in the morning, active in the afternoon. And when I say workout twice, it’s not that you necessarily have to do two full gym sessions, but if you work out at the gym in the morning, make sure you take a walk in the afternoon, and make sure that you implement some sort of right brain activity throughout your day. Whether it’s meditation, whether it’s gratitude, whether it’s listening to classical music, whether it’s just time to daydream, whether it’s being outside in nature. Make sure that you stimulate your right brain as much as your left brain as well.

Stu

39:07 Yeah, interesting. Well, I’m intrigued that you mentioned meditation as well in that, because obviously it’s kind of, I guess, it’s kind of a new kid on the block in terms of … we’re talking about digital, and posture, and things like that. And I’ve always struggled with meditation, because I just have this monkey mind, but recently I’ve plugged into this electronic brain sensing headband, and I’ve just been using that on the phone. It has had a radical … or made radical change to the way that I think, my sleep quality. And I just think my mood throughout the day as well.

So yeah, worth exploring that as, definitely, a strategy to enhance your day too. So thank you so much for bringing that up. So we’re almost coming up on time, but I just like to ask a question based upon all of the knowledge that you’ve accrued over your career, over your life. If you could distill that into maybe three things, three top tips that you could share that you think might or could make the biggest impact on our overall health, what might they be?

Krista

40:22 Yeah. So it looks like this, number one is doing posture breaks. If you implement that one single thing, that is going to help your posture in such a profound way. Remember that gravity’s always constantly pressing down in our bodies. We can’t beat gravity, we can’t fight gravity. Let’s live with gravity in a healthy way. So again, just 30 second posture breaks right here. Number two is bringing those devices up to eye level. Again, very simple shift. This is like a shift of millimeters that can dramatically change the effect of your body. So just by bringing our devices up to eye level, we don’t have to get rid of them. We need to limit the amount of time on them, but bring them up to eye level so that we can support better posture. Now keep in mind the recommendations that I’m giving you are in consideration that I’m sure other guests are talking about nutrition, they’re talking about exercise.

So from my point of view, providing us imposture tips that can dramatically shift the course of your life when implemented. So these in addition to other lifestyle factors. So we want to make sure that we’re doing posture breaks we want to make sure that we bring our devices up to eye level, and we want to make sure that we’re active as much as possible throughout our work day. It’s so easy to be sedentary for eight hours per day, then go home and be sedentary with our families by having dinner, then watching Netflix, then going to bed and sleeping for eight hours and suddenly 21 hours of our 24 hour day, we’re completely sedentary.

And now that’s setting us up for longterm chronic illnesses. And so we need to be aware of stimulating more movement, more non exercise activity thermogenesis throughout our day. So what that means is walking around as much as possible, active sitting, it means being aware of how much time we’re spending on our devices and the opportunity cost of not being outside, activating our brains and our bodies with exercise. So make sure that you do your posture breaks, you bring your devices up to eye-level, and you integrate as much moment as possible throughout your daily work day.

Stu

42:19 Love it. Fantastic. And it’s interesting, because I work in a new coworking space, and it’s all very funky, and it all looks very cold, but it can be so convenient in terms of everything’s right there on your doorstep to perhaps decrease the movements. So what I do, personally, is if I need to go to the toilet, which I do a lot, because I’ve got my little phone that blinks and says drink more water. So I go in two or three times a day. I have a toilet right next door to the office, but there is another toilet down two flights of stairs across the car park, which I always use. So I know that I’m going down two flights, I’m walking around the block up two flights, and that’s me. And so it’s just little tips like that. And like you said, walk and talk on your meetings. Great strategy, great strategy, because you can do other stuff too. I’ll do walking lunges when I’m meeting, just to try and build in more into my day because I really don’t want to devolve.

Krista

43:22 I know. And it’ll happen. I mean, the thing is we have to recognize the facts. And not in a dismal way necessarily, in a super positive, proactive way. Like recognizing, “Okay, this can happen. I have two choices. I’m not going to get rid of my technology. I’m not going to quit my desk job, but I do have a choice of how that controls my life or whether I control my life to be healthy.” So recognizing your environment. I always say that it’s posture by design, not by circumstance. We don’t have to be a circumstance of our environment.
We can control our body position and our brain inputs within our environment. But we have to be mindful because our world is set up to keep us lazy, keep us sedentary, keep us flex dominant, with poor posture, and keep us on devices these days. So be aware and set these simple shifts into your life that help you live a healthier life with better posture, from a better structural perspective, which is feeding your brain with better neurologic activation.

Stu

44:22 Brilliant. Boy oh boy, I have learned so much today, so much. I’ve started the day the right way. So I’m super, super grateful. So what’s next for dr Krista? What have you got in the pipeline?

Krista

44:36 You know, we’re just committed on a mission at the American posture Institute. It really is to prevent this postural de-evolution that I keep talking about, and providing posture tips so that more people can live healthier. We’re standing up against digital dementia. So what I would love if everybody listening, I have a TEDx talk directly on this topic. Be sure to check it out. It’s just five minutes, and it can help you see what can happen if we go down the path of postural de-evolution. And I want to help you stand up and prevent this from impacting you and impacting your family. And yeah, it’s just a great opportunity to connect today. I’ve loved your conversation, and I love what you’re doing on the 180 podcast, providing these really useful health tips that truly can transform the health of our society.

Stu

45:21 Fantastic. No, well look, thank you so much. And for all of our listeners who want to get more of you, the Institute, the TEDx talk, everything that we’ve spoken about today. Where can I point them?

Krista

45:32 Yeah, I would love it if you just followed us on Facebook, at facebook.com/American posture Institute, and our website’s Americanpostureinstitute.com. I’d love to stay connected with all of you.

Stu

45:43 Fantastic. I will put all of the links that we’ve spoken about in the show notes today, but dr. Krista, thank you so much for sharing what I believe can be transformative information, and I’m going to be talking about this all day and cannot wait to share this across all of our channels. So again, thank you so much. Really, really appreciate this chat today.

Krista

46:03 A thank you to you Stu, I appreciate this platform, and I appreciate all the amazing work that you’re doing to transform lives and provide that health information. And for everybody who was listening in today’s conversation, just make these small shifts in your posture and it will help transform your health. Thanks again.

Stu

46:18 Brilliant, thank you.

 

 

Krista Burns

This podcast features Dr. Krista Burns. Krista is a certified postural neurologist, certified posture expert, a doctor of chiropractic, and she has a PhD in global health policy. So, she has a few qualifications. She is also a highly sought-after speaker and author of the textbook, The Posture Principles. Her goal... Read More
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