by Jamie Duran
Throughout our lives we have always heard commands like “Stand up straight!” “Act like a book is on your head!” “Suck your belly in!”
As time goes on, and your mother is not there to remind you, our good posture is easily forgotten. We tend to sink into a more “comfortable” slouched position when standing, sitting, walking, driving, etc. This “comfortable” position may give us a temporary relief but it brings a high risk of pain and injuries. A forward head position causing a change in the gentle curve of the neck causing a pinch in the mid cervical spine. Over time this can cause a pinched nerve and radiating pain into the arm! The risk costs way more than temporary comfort especially because it can be easily prevented with a few simple exercises.
Studies have identified impaired activation of the deep cervical flexor muscles, the longus colli and longus capitis, in people with neck pain. It has been shown that retraining these deep cervical muscles will decrease neck symptoms and increase the stability of the cervical spine improving the ability to maintain a balanced, pain free posture of the cervical spine. (Falla, D., Jull, G., Russell, T., Vicenzino, B., & Hodges, P. 2007).
Correct posture is extremely important for a pain free lifestyle. Good posture will help reverse current or future injuries and reduce neck pain. Implementing postural stretches and exercises into your everyday routine will aid in prevention for any new pain and injuries.
It’s easy! Add these simple exercises into your daily routine (even 5 minutes a day) and be mindful of good posture in your everyday life.
Practice sitting up straight! Stay mindful about your sitting posture, Chest up, belly in, shoulders back, and chin back. Try not to sit for extended periods of time, even just standing up and walking around for a few seconds will make a big difference. Set an alarm to remind you to sit up straight and to get up and walk around.
Chin tucks will help strengthen your cervical postural muscles and prevent a “forward leaning head” doing 3 sets of 10 tucks a day takes no time and will help tremendously.
Upper trap and levator stretches can be preformed throughout the whole day. Not only do they feel amazing but also help loosen up those stiff muscles from bad posture.
Rows, extensions and scapular retractions, these three exercises are key to keeping your posture strong. Keeping your postural muscles strong will make standing up straight easier and you will be able to think about it less because your body will naturally pull you upright. Adding a resistance band it optimal but not necessary, just make sure you SQUEEZE! Preform 3 sets 10 for best results.
Standing pelvic tilts will not only help engage our core when we stand but also keep you mindful of good lumbar posture as well. We tend to stick our bottoms out when we stand up straight for good posture, however it is necessary to keep a neutral spine, and practicing these tucks will give us the correct posture we need.
Doorway or pec stretch is important especially in today’s technology driven world (phone and computer use). Our chest is in a constant caved position in turn will shorten these muscles and make it harder to stand and sit correctly. Using any doorway, place your arms on either side at a 90-degree angle and step into the stretch. You should feel a nice comfortable stretch along your chest and shoulders. Pop into any door you see throughout your day and aim for 60 seconds comfortable stretch.
Falla, D., Jull, G., Russell, T., Vicenzino, B., & Hodges, P. (2007). Effect of Neck Exercise on Sitting Posture in Patients With Chronic Neck Pain. Physical Therapy,87(4), 408-417. doi:10.2522/ptj.20060009