"A good stance and posture reflect a proper state of mind" - Morihei Ueshiba
The majority of Americans are affected by neck and back pain. Up to 80 percent of adults suffer at some point from back pain, and up to 70 percent of adults suffer at some point from neck pain so severe that they cannot complete their daily activities.
Poor posture puts strain on your muscles:
Forward head - This is one of the most common forms of poor posture, this forces the head in front of the body’s midline.
This posture adds significantly more weight than the muscles of the head and neck must support. With good posture, the head adds 10-12 pounds of weight to the torso. With bad posture, the head can add 27-60 pounds to the affected muscles.
Furthermore, poor posture can trigger the body to tighten certain muscles in order to create more stability. Tightness, combined with the strain of supporting extra weight, can increase muscle tension, as well as neck, head, and back pain that interferes with the daily activity of life.
Common Posture Problems
Poor posture takes many forms. However, there are 4 common posture problems that can be addressed through physical therapy and regular exercise. They are as follows:
1. Forward Head
As mentioned above, the forward head posture places the head in front of the body’s midline. As the result of too many hours hunched in front of a computer, looking down at a phone, or driving, this type of posture problem can create significant neck and shoulder pain.
Kyphosis is similar to forwarding head posture, but is more severe and is sometimes referred to as hunchback. Defined by a significant curvature of the upper back, this type of poor posture is often the result of osteoporosis, aging, and disc degeneration.
Swayback occurs when the hips sit in front of the body’s midline. This type of poor posture often occurs because of extensive sitting, which weakens the back and gluteal muscles. It can create an inward curve of the lower back that is distinct even when standing.
Flatback is a type of poor posture defined by a loss of the curvature in the spine. Flatback, which is often caused by conditions such as inflammatory arthritis, can lead to pain when standing for too long.
How to Correct Bad Posture
The good news is that, while poor posture increased muscle tension and tone, it can be corrected. with simple changes in lifestyle are sufficient to restore proper posture. Try these steps to improve your posture:
Adjust your seating arrangements at work
Lower or raise your computer to keep your head in alignment with your spine
Wear comfortable, supportive shoes, not high heels
Pay attention to your body’s alignment when sitting or standing (e.g. No slouching)
Practice deep breathing
For posture that causes daily discomfort, particularly pain that interferes with your ability to function in your daily life, you may need to consult a physical therapist to help you retrain the muscles of your body.
A physical therapist can introduce exercises that will help you to strengthen the right muscles and restore the appropriate alignment of your back, head, shoulders, and hips. These exercises may include stretching, strengthening, or yoga exercises. A PT may also offer you, posture correctors, such as shoe lifts, to help your healing process.
Once your posture is improving and your muscles are stronger, your physical therapist will work with you to implement exercises and lifestyle changes for you to use at home. Keeping up with this at-home routine can help you maintain the progress you made and prevent a recurrence of poor posture, and the muscle tension it creates.
Dr. Ram Shahani PT, DPT, OCS, Founder of Primacare Physical Therapy can help you improve your posture. Our compassionate, skilled, and professional physical therapists have state-of-the-art tools and the most current knowledge to help you get back on the path to health and good posture. Contact us today to learn more!