We all know about posture, and have been told to sit or stand up straighter once or twice in our lives. But why is it so important? Well….if you have ever suffered from neck pain, back pain or headaches, then you might want to check your posture. This is very common amongst desk workers, and now with smartphones, tablets and laptops used by almost everyone, it is even more prevalent. The most common bad posture is forward head carriage (i.e. your head sits forward of your shoulders). This is a problem because of simple biomechanics; the further away a weight is from your center of gravity (i.e. the head) the harder it is to hold up (so your poor neck muscles are working harder than they need to). If you imagine holding a heavy medicine ball further and further away from your body, it would become more and more difficult to hold up. This causes discomfort at first, and then can lead to pain as the muscles get more and more tired, eventually relying more on the surrounding ligaments and joints, which also become painful. The most common symptoms are neck and shoulder (upper trapezius) pain and headaches. Most tension headaches are caused by the neck (cervical facet joints) and therefore us chiropractors call them cervico-genic headaches. This can also increase the incidence of migraines.
So what can you do about it? Here is a simple yet effective postural exercise; first roll your shoulders to get them moving, then squeeze your shoulder blades together but also try to drop them down your back (imagine trying to put your shoulder blades into your back pockets). At first you might find this difficult and it will feel strange, especially if your posture has been bad for a while. But it reminds the overworked muscles to relax and the lazy ones to start working again. This also brings the head back to it’s center of gravity. You only need to do it a few times throughout the day and hold for 10 seconds. It is more of a postural reminder for when you feel like you’re slumping at your desk or laptop etc. For more persistent problems, you can try a posture brace (not a rigid corset but an elasticated device to gently bring the shoulders back). Foam rollers are also helpful at the end of the day to get a bit of extension into the thoracic spine (ease your way gently into using one as they can be brutal if you’re in pain). One thing to remember is that improving your posture is more of a brain training exercise then anything else. Essentially you are trying to break a bad habit. If you are still in pain after improving your posture, you may need some treatment in the affected area to get any stiff joints moving, and get any tough knots out of the muscles first. Then you may find you can help prevent re-occurrence with the above advice.
As always if you would like to book an appointment please call or text: 07956623852