This is a weekly column that will look at trends in healthcare and lifestyle issues that impact health

A hot water bath before going to bed is what many professional drivers crave for to relieve body ache caused by staying at the wheel for hours at a stretch. But here are experts telling you that if your posture improves, you might actually be able to avoid such discomfort.

B. Bharath Shankar and his wife Preethi Bharath, city-based posture alignment specialists, say not having the right posture can lead to a multitude of health problems.

Apparently, for professional drivers, the spinal alignment changes from the regular ‘S’ shape to ‘C’ due to the way they sit at the wheel. “Prolonged sitting causes hip-flexion deformity, where the S-shaped spine changes to C-shape and the head position moves forward. This position causes tremendous stress from head to toe resulting in back, knee, shoulder and neck pain,” says Ms. Preethi. Keeping the head in a forward position for a long time causes vertigo, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, headaches and migraines,” adds Mr. Bharat Shankar.

“Fatigue and backache is a common problem for drivers. This is because their seating arrangement is not proper,” says K. Natarajan, general secretary of Metropolitan Transport Corporation Employees Progressive Union.

“Car manufacturers have begun to pay close attention to seating as drivers are at the wheel for lakhs of kilometres,” says Lalgudi Srinivasan, joint secretary, Chennai Tourist Taxi Owners Association.

Mr. Bharat Shankar says that with some easy exercises, the posture alignment can be corrected. “Drivers can do these exercises while waiting at a signal. They will feel fresh for the next six hours,” he says.

Diet — it needs only a little effort

When a doctor advises a regimented diet, especially for a chronic ailment, very few follow it strictly. Occasional transgressions, with a resolve to reform, are the rule. Diabetics who do not watch what they eat often end up in hospital. And, some make repeated trips for the same problem.

For the first time this year, to impress upon the community the importance of eating the right food, the Indian Dietetic Association decided to observe Dietetics Day.

The members chose January 10 as it is the day of inception of the association.

The theme for this year was – a healthy foundation for a healthy tomorrow.

Various chapters employed different methods to emphasise the importance of good food habits, said Gopa Sarkar, secretary of the association.

“People are not eating nutritious food. We also have to fight superstitious beliefs. People don’t eat dahi (curd) in winter fearing they will catch cold. I see mothers of small children spend money on health drinks because of the advertisements. What children need is daal, fish, milk and eggs, vegetables and fruits,” said Ms. Sarkar.

At the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital, 700 diabetics were screened for their nutritional status by 60 students of dietetics from city colleges. Each patient was given nutrition counselling and provided handouts on nutrition tips, said Meenakshi Bajaj, the nutritionist attached to the hospital. “We prepare 12 types of diets for our patients on a daily basis,” she said.

(Reporting by Vivek Narayanan and R. Sujatha)

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