How is your posture?

Poor posture is a contributing factor in many cases of shoulder pain, rotator cuff issues, tennis elbow, neck pain, headaches, upper back pain, asthma and many more.  Did you know making small changes in your posture could have significant benefits on your overall health, improve your mood, oxygen levels in your tissues, your energy and your comfort levels?

Most of us spend a massive 75 hours per week in poor sitting posture.  How long do you sit per day…eating breakfast, travelling to and from work, at work, eating dinner then sitting to watch TV, read or computer use? Our spines, including the discs and joints are designed to absorb force in a particular way.  When we slouch, our spines become static, which produces tight muscles and stiff joints.  When we slump, our arms hang off our neck muscles rather than off our shoulder girdle as they are designed.  This creates tension in the neck and shoulder muscles and even a reduction of oxygen to the brain and body tissues, possibly contributing to the 3pm hit of fatigue and irritability, plus many other issues such as brain fog, aches and pains.

Here are some simple strategies to improve your posture, the more you practice and the more awareness you have the greater the results:

  • Sit and stand up as tall as you can, lifting slightly from your sternum.  Adjust your car mirrors to this posture
  • Complete a regular stretching and mobilisation program including stretching the chest, neck, hip flexors and mobilising the spine – see below for some effective stretches
  • Regularly take a deep breath as you reset your posture – ie. each time you are at the traffic lights or press send on an email
  • When reading a long email, use this time to do a stretch at your desk
  • Drink plenty of water and take time each day to fill your body with air and to clear your lungs fully of the stale air using exercise or breathing exercises.
  • When talking or on hold on the phone, get up and walk around or do some stretches
  • Check that your workstation set up promotes better posture
  • Perform relaxation exercises such as progressive muscle relaxation.

 

Neck Stretch 

  • Sit on Swiss ball or chair
  • Gently bend neck to the side until a stretch is felt in the side of the neck
  • To make more specific, slightly bend neck forward or backward.
  • Breathe in for 4 seconds and out for 6 seconds
  • Hold for 20 seconds
  • Repeat other side
  • Complete twice each side, twice per day   

Chest Stretch

  • Place elbow on wall slightly above the height of your ear
  • Rotate body forward and away from the wall until a stretch is felt in the chest area
  • Stand and breathe into the arm pit
  • Breathe in for 4 sec and out for 6 sec
  • Hold for 20 seconds
  • Complete twice each side, twice per day

Thoracic extension – wall

  • Sitting on swiss ball or chair, place arms on wall, forehead rests on forearms.
  • As you breathe in, slowly and gently slide the SB away from the wall, easing the chest to the junction of the floor and wall.  Isolate the movement to the upper back as demonstrated in your session.
  • Pause here then as you breathe out, gradually move the ball towards the wall and allow the back to come to a neutral position, or even round a slight bit.
  • Repeat 3 sets of 15 reps
  • Perform twice per day

Chest Expansion

  • Sit upright on chair or swiss ball and with shoulders open, hands facing out and fingers separated.  Place feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart and slightly turned out.
  • Keep eyes level, looking straight ahead, chin slightly tucked in.
  • Take 5 deep breaths, in to the count of 4 and out to the count of 6, increasing the opening with each in breath.
  • Perform at your desk or twice a day.

For some people, years of build-up of hours at the desk, driving or just poor posture means more support is needed.  At Head 2 Toe, we are passionate about working with you to optimise your posture – to help your body to be more comfortable and able to maintain good posture.  There are many ways we can help, including providing hands-on treatment, lifestyle modification, ergonomic advice and an individualised exercise and stretching program, so contact us today.

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Written by Dr. Jess Harvey B.Sc. (Anat, Phys), B.Ap.Sci (Comp. Med.), Ma Osteo., Registered Osteopath and Director of Head 2 Toe Health, a multidisciplinary clinic in Brisbane also providing Acupuncture, Massage, Life Coaching and Counselling – where we aim to get you as well as possible, as fast as possible, permanently.  We believe in a thorough approach to restoring and maintaining health and address many aspects of our lifestyles that can contribute to pain, stiffness, dis-ease and disease.  For any further information, please contact us on info@head2toehealth.com.au or 07) 3208 8308.

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