In your youth, did your mother often remind you to sit up (or stand up) straight?
Mothers, the eternal guardian of erect posture. While your mother may have been correct in her assertions, in your defense, sustaining an upright posture for any length of time may be difficult when spinal joints are tight and support muscles are weak. It takes a great deal of effort to create and maintain the necessary muscle strength and joint flexibility to have good posture. While certainly not the only factor, good posture is inextricably tied to core strength, and the truth is, unless you routinely work on core strength, you do not have it. Sorry, don’t shoot the messenger.
The first thing is the evaluation. What are the primary challenges that need to be worked on first? The best way to do this is to take two head-to-toe photographs, a back view, and a side view.
The Back View
From the back, make note of any head tilt, a high shoulder, and/or high hip. Also, make note if there is a lateral deviation (a lateral deviation is when the shoulders deviate to one side or the other rather than being aligned over the hips). There is much to address regarding postural challenges from the back view. If you do a self-evaluation and find that you have a head tilt, high shoulder or high hip, give us a call and we’ll help you out!
The Side View
Your mother’s main concern. Postural faults seen on the side view are a good place to start working.
The most common of which is the forward head posture with an associated increased curve in the mid-back. This postural deviation occurs as a result of head forward posture activities, such as tilting your head forward to look at your cell phone or your computer. Think of your head as a bowling ball (after all, it weighs 10-12 pounds). Once that bowling ball moves the slightest off-center, then gravity takes over to drag your head forward. All while the muscles in the back of your neck and across your shoulders are screaming from all the work they are doing to keep your head upright. This is the primary postural challenge that most of us have to deal with, head forward and increased upper back curve.
Another close cousin to these two is the shoulders rounded forward. This can be seen by how the hands fall to the side. Are the palms facing directly toward the side of the leg? This is anatomically normal. The common deviation seen with rounded shoulders is for the palms to rotate backward.
The good news is that you do not need a gym membership to work on this. The bad news is that you have to work on this. No equipment necessary, although a matt would make it more comfortable. A foam roller and a gym-ball would also be beneficial, as they would add more routines to your workout mix.
The Chin-Tuck – For a head forward posture this exercise works well when performed routinely throughout the day. Simply use two fingers to push your chin directly backward: no backward head tilt. Push back to feel the “end-range” of movement and hold for a second or two. Do this 5 times. You should feel a release of tension in your neck.
The Stretch-for-the-sky – If you have an increased upper back curve, you can do some, stretching for the sky, to straighten your upper back. This is especially effective when done with a hot shower beating on your back. You could also incorporate hand rotation forward with your arms slightly to the side as you reach up and outward, squeezing your shoulder blades together.
If you have major concerns about your posture or if you have chronic recurring back or neck pain, you should get it checked by a professional. We offer posture
evaluations as part of our patient care and it is a simple overview of what to look for and a few suggestions to get you started.
For additional exercises and clarification on the above, head to our YouTube channel. There you will find a plethora of videos designed to provide solutions for better health, Naturally!