Do you find yourself slumping down in your seat as the day goes on? Is your head constantly down looking at papers on your desk or at your phone? Are you experiencing constant tension and pain in your neck and shoulders? Does your back and neck feel fatigued or sore at the end of the day? Even worse, are you starting to develop a hump on your back or neck? If you answered yes to any of those questions, congratulations! You are like the average individual living in this digital world! What’s the cause of these aches, pains and tension buildup? Poor posture. It’s that simple! I call it electronic posture. Why? Because we rely on our electronic devices for pretty much everything and in doing so, we are constantly looking down. Looking down for long periods of time can really wreck our postures.
In addition to looking down at our cell phones and tablets all day, other daily activities contribute to poor posture. Long commutes, sitting stationary at work or school and having our heads bent forward staring at computer screens all day causes our bodies to really suffer. As a chiropractor, I see the effects of poor posture all day. Poor posture can cause otherwise strong muscles to get weak (because they aren’t being used) and other muscles to tighten in order to pick up the slack. So we have strong muscles weakened and compensating muscles tightened and sometimes in spasm.
Joints in our necks and backs can also become “locked.” A joint is when two bones come together. By nature they are supposed to open and close. That’s how they function. But due to abnormalities including poor posture, joints can become stuck in a bad position. This makes normal motion of our necks and back difficult. Bones can also misalign because of the abnormal positions the neck and back are forced in. Additionally, the taut and/or spasmed muscle puts pressure on the joints preventing them from opening and closing normally. Because muscle attaches to bone, whatever happens to the muscle affects the bone and vice versa. Proper alignment of our head, neck and back is key to neck and back comfort.
How do you know if you have bad posture? In addition to a humpback (hyperkyphosis), signs of poor posture include forward head position, round-shoulder appearance and slumped forwardness of your back as you sit or stand. With proper posture from the side view, our ears are supposed to be in line with our ears. When viewing from the front or back, our shoulders are supposed to equal heights. Poor posture can cause pain, decreased motion and mobility of our necks and backs, headaches, muscle spasms, tight muscles, decreased blood flow, tingling and numbness of our arms and hands and fatigued muscles. You may also feel like your head is “too heavy” for your neck. Forward translation of our head adds additional pressure to our necks. This is not good!
How can we correct bad posture?
- Visit a great chiropractor! (Me!) I will do an assessment of your posture and range of motion of your neck and back. From there a plan can be created to improve the function of your back and neck. Additionally you can do these things on your own:
- Consciously think about sitting up straight. It takes effort to be aware of your posture so just be more aware of it and when you notice yourself slouching, straighten your back, push you chest out and lift your chin.
- Avoid looking down so much. Bring cell phones, tablets and other electronic devices up to eye level when you use them. Do the same for laptops/computers you work on. When reading use book stands instead having your books on a table or in your lap. Consider using a standing desk as well.
- Avoid sitting or standing in one position for more than 30 minutes. This gives you a chance to “reset” your position and posture. Moving also opens your joints, bringing nutrients to discs and joints.
- When you take your “reset” breaks do Straighten Up America stretches. Straighten Up America exercises are great for stretching tight and fatigues muscles and increasing blood flow. These exercises are great for your spine.
- Sit with your feet on a foot rest.
- When sitting adjust your seat so that your hips are slightly higher than your knees.
- Use a lumbar support on your chair for additional low back support.
- Stretch and your neck and also your chest and anterior shoulder muscles. This includes the pecs and anterior deltoids. Schedule an appointment with us so we can show you how!
- Strengthen your upper back muscles. These include the rhomboids, trapezius, latissimus dorsi and deltoid muscles. Some exercises which do this include rows, over head presses, reverse fly, forward raises, and planks. Schedule an appointment with us for a routine just for you!
So having good posture isn’t just for looks! Good posture is essential for maintaining the health of your spine, joints, discs and nerves. Let us help you sit up straight!