When your parents told you to “sit up straight,” they were onto something.
Surprisingly, an array of pain conditions are caused by bad posture. Wonder why your neck and shoulders are sore? Check your posture!
The problem often begins at our jobs. Many sit at a desk all day. We hunch forward, craning our necks toward our computer screens. Then, we can’t seem to pinpoint why our necks hurt. It gets worse when we get home. We spend time on our digital devices. We tilt our head down to get closer to our phone screens.
For every inch the head protrudes forward, it’s another 1 lb of weight and stress placed on the neck. It’s called ‘Forward Head Posture,’ or ‘Text Neck.’ And it can lead to chronic pain that lasts a lifetime.
Your neck isn’t the only body part that comes under stress. Your shoulders may cave in and forward. In turn, you may experience shoulder blade or mid-back issues. In severe cases, your lung capacity may be impacted.
Sitting all day also gives way to low back pain. The shortening of certain muscles at the front of the hips and the back of the legs pull on the pelvis, causing misalignment.
Evidently, your posture is important.
But, What Exactly is Good Posture?
In short, good posture is the position in which your body is under the least amount of stress.
Good posture helps to maintain the natural curves of the spine. Your shoulders are down and back – they are relaxed. Your chest is up and open. Your chin is held as if a small apple is in between it and your chest. Your pelvis is in a neutral position – not protruding forward or backward. The body was made to stand and sit this way. When we stray from this alignment, we risk strained muscles and tissues. Consequently, we put our quality of life on the line.
How Can You Fix Your Bad Posture?
Luckily, bad posture is often reversible. Visiting a massage therapist or physiotherapist can help you get back on track. Massage can help release tension and stress in the affected muscles. And your manual therapist can prescribe exercises to help reduce your pain- as well as fix your bad posture.
One simple exercise that can get you started involves:
- Sit or stand up tall.
- Gently pinch your shoulder blades down and back.
- Your shoulders should not hunch up toward your ears.
- Hold this position for 5-10 seconds.
- Try to do 10-12 repetitions, 2-3 times per day.
How does this exercise help?
It fixes the common forward hunch of your shoulders and upper back. In other words, it strengthens the muscles in your mid-back. It adjusts your alignment, as well as addressing common muscular weaknesses.
Once you get good at this exercise, you can add in a chin tuck variation. For the chin tuck version:
- Stand with your back against a wall.
- At the same time that you do the shoulder pinch, retract your chin. It’s like making that double-chin face that many of us do when we are children.
- You want to try to engage the small neck flexor muscles. These muscles are deep in the neck region. They may be hard to feel, but overall, you want to make sure you aren’t tightening the muscles on the side of your neck.
- Like the shoulder pinch, hold for 5-10 seconds. Do 10-12 repetitions, 2-3 times per day.
Taking frequent walking, standing, or stretching breaks can also help counteract the effects. When we sit at a desk for long durations, we forget to check in with ourselves. Thus, our posture takes a hit. But breaks can help with this.
Setting up your workstation properly is also an important factor. Find out if the company you work for offers an ergonomic assessment option. Have an expert help you out. An optimal workstation setup can prevent common muscular aches and pains caused by bad posture.
Get your posture checked out today! At Athlete’s Choice Massage, our massage therapists can help you find a solution for your injury or condition. Book your next appointment and start your journey toward a life, free of pain.