Move Empower Concierge Physical Therapy Austin TX
Austin physical therapist adjusts spine and bad posture of female patient

How much do you really know about your Posture? (Part 1)

“Stop hunching!”

“Sit up straight!”

Sound familiar? Never have wiser words been uttered – who knew our parents would be so right!


Evolution of man from chimp to cave man to sitting at a computer

Posture is created by the way we move and carry ourselves as we go through our daily life. Our addictions to our laptop computers and smartphones have forever changed how we position ourselves and unfortunately can have deleterious effects to our spine.


Wonder where you stand? Try out this simple posture test:

  1. Stand against a wall with your feet out about 6 inches from the wall – toes forward.
  2. Your buttocks, shoulder blades, and head should be touching the wall
  3. Reach back and slide your hand behind the curve in your lower back, with your palm flat against the wall.
  4. There should be no more than about 2 inches space between the wall and the back of your neck and between the wall and the small of your back.


The test is positive for poor posture:

Posture chart showing poor posture to good posture

If the position is painful:

  • Buttocks, shoulder blades, and/or head cannot touch the wall –Picture B
  • Greater than 2 in. of space between the low back and neck and the wall –Picture B and C

Do any of these symptoms ring true for you?

  • Headaches that originate in the back of the head that radiates up and over
  • Shoulder pain with sleeping and carrying objects
  • Neck pain
  • Decreased neck range of motion
  • Soreness to muscles between the shoulders and middle back region


If you find that your posture isn’t up to snuff, there are things we can actively do every day to slowly but surely improve the way we carry ourselves.


But first, let’s try and understand what’s causing all these postural imbalances.


Activities we do every day like sitting at a computer, texting on our phones, repetitive lifting, carrying a baby, etc, all have one thing in common: they are all performed in front of the body usually for prolonged periods of time and frequently throughout the day.


This repetitive and prolonged positioning puts a strain on the muscles which over time changes their flexibility and strength. This can result in the rounded shoulders and a forward head position. Promoting this is the weakness of important stabilizing muscles of the front of the neck and the middle and lower trapezius muscle of the mid-back.


Upper crossed syndrome chart showing posture issues
  • Forward head position
  • Rounded forward shoulders
  • Excess curvature of the mid back

When muscles sense an imbalance of their antagonist they can begin to act and perform differently.  Some become hyperactive and take over, and others, “go on break,” or shut down. For example, the Pectoralis major and minor muscles  (chest muscles) have a tendency to tighten up, when it senses an asymmetry in strength and flexibility of its antagonist muscles – the shoulder blade muscles of the mid-back. Add to that poor fitness, vision problems, and improper desk set up and the negative effects become amplified.


Call us at (512) 659-5615  or email  schedule a FREE discovery session HERE if you have any questions about neck or shoulder pain related to your posture.


We offer a FREE 20 min consultation designed to determine the root cause of your pain or injury, a treatment plan to fix it, and whether or not physical therapy is ideal for you.


Stay tuned for part 2 of this discussion where I will explore the best exercises to help promote optimal posture and tips for folks who sit at desks all day.

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