By: Eric Finger, MPT, OCS, FAAOMPT May 5, 2018
“Sit up straight!’
Sound familiar? Never have wiser words been uttered – who knew our parents would be so right!
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:
- Stand against a wall with your feet out about 6 inches from the wall – toes forward.
- Your buttocks, shoulder blades, and head should be touching the wall
- Reach back and slide your hand behind the curve in your lower back, with your palm flat against the wall.
- 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 you
The test is positive for poor 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-Pic B and C
Do any of these symptoms ring true for you?
- Headaches that originate in the back of the head that radiate 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 everyday 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 everyday 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 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.
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions about neck or shoulder pain related to your posture.
We offer a FREE 30 min phone or in-person 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.
In part 2 of this discussion I will explore the best exercises to help promote optimal posture and tips for folks who sit at desks all day.
Until then keep moving and smiling.
Best in Health,