Poor posture can result in neck pain, shoulder knots/tension, and headache pain. As a physical therapist these are common complaints I treat in my clinic – oftentimes these issues correlate directly with a person’s posture. Today I’m sharing 5 of my favorite exercises you can do at home to help correct these postural issues.
Here’s an Amazon link to my favorite foam roller:
DAILY STRENGTH TRAINING ROUTINE AT HOME:
6-MINUTE POSTURE CORRECTION WITH A FOAM ROLLER:
HOW TO ELIMINATE MUSCLE KNOTS IN YOUR NECK, SHOULDERS, AND BACK:
BEST EXERCISES FOR UPPER BACK PAIN
As a physical therapist, I treat many posture related problems.
The thing is – people don’t come in to my clinic complaining of “bad posture“. People come into my clinic complaining of the symptoms that are typically associated with bad posture. Neck pain, knots in your upper shoulders, headache pain, etc. are typically related to poor posture.
These are the complaints for which people typically seek Physical Therapy help; little do these patients know how many of them wouldn’t be in any pain if they just spent some time addressing their posture!
Today on Tone and Tighten I wanted to discuss these postural issues – specifically what is poor posture, why you developed it, and some simple exercises you can do to correct this problem.
What is it?
Poor posture is typically characterized by what we refer to as a “forward head and rounded shoulders“ posture. When you stand up straight and tall, if I were to look at your profile from the side your ear should be directly located over the tip of your shoulder. Your sternum/chest should be pointed up with your shoulder blades sent back. This is what “good“ posture looks like.
In this position, gravity holds your head squarely on top your neck with very minimal muscle activation required. This results in minimal tension, decreased muscle knots, and decreased muscle activation.
Now let’s take a look at the implications of bad posture…
Again, bad posture is typically characterized by a “forward head and rounded shoulders“. Forward head refers to the position of your head relative to your shoulders. It simply means that if I were to look at your standing posture from the profile view your ear would be out in front of the tip of your shoulder.
This typically causes a “rounding“ forward of the shoulder blades and an increased visible “hump“ in the upper back.
In this position, your head is not in an ideal anatomical location. Gravity would cause it to flop forward if not for some muscle activation to hold it up. So to prevent your head from flopping forward you must activate the muscles in your neck and upper shoulders.
15–30 minutes at a time this might be OK, but when you spend 8 – 12 – 16 hours in this position, those muscles can get extremely fatigued.
The result is increased tension in your neck, pain with movement, stiffness, knots in your upper shoulders, and even headaches.
So what do we do about it?
The muscles in your body are highly adaptable to stresses placed on them or removed from them.
Our forward head and rounded shoulders posture typically results in what we refer to as an “upper cross syndrome“. The muscles through the front of your chest and back of your neck get tight while the muscles through your upper back and front of your neck get stretched out and week.
The treatment for this poor posture issue is to basically reverse our “upper cross syndrome“. We need to stretch where it’s tight (upper chest, front of the shoulders, and neck) and strengthen where it’s weak (rhomboids and middle traps – between your shoulder blades).
Here are 5 of my favorite exercises to help you overcome these problems. Push “Play” on the video above for a detailed description of the principles discussed in this post including an explanation of the following exercises.
Remember – oftentimes you don’t feel “poor posture”… but you certainly feel the effects from it. If you carry a large amount of tension in your neck and shoulders, get neck pain regularly, or experience tension headaches – your posture certainly could be playing a role in that.
Performing these exercises regularly will help to improve your posture. In fact many of my patients notice a significant improvement in about a month; it might be up to 3 months to see a remarkable improvement (it took your body a long time to develop poor posture; it’s going to take some time and effort to reverse this problem). You have to be diligent and consistent, but I know these can help you out!