Remember being told this as a child: “Sit up straight!” or “Don’t slouch!” …Well, the person nagging you actually had a point!
Many patients come to see me with various aches and pains in their neck/shoulders/back that just don’t seem to budge by themselves.
These patients generally describe a gradual onset of discomfort that increases over a number of weeks (or sometimes months!) until they get fed up with it and come to see me!
I would say 9 out of 10 of these patients have postural issues!
Basically, they didn’t take any notice of the nagging when they were younger!
Also, modern society lends itself perfectly to poor posture, what with TV’s, computers, cars, etc, we spend a lot of time sitting around.
Without going into too much detail, this is what is going on with our bodies when we slouch:
- Headaches – When we slouch, we end up with a ‘pokey chin’, where the head sits too far forward on the neck. This can cause compression of both the spinal arteries and the spinal nerves which can lead to headaches. Tuck that chin in!
- Shoulder pain – Slouching = rounded shoulders, which in turn can lead to impingement of the tendons surrounding the shoulder joint causing inflammation and pain on movement.
- “Clunky” Shoulders – Slouchers have poor control of their shoulder blades. When they move their arms, the bones that make up the shoulder joints aren’t quite in the right position which can cause a “click” or two during movement. NIce party trick!
- Low back pain – Yes! The beast itself! Slouching can contribute to low back pain because the joints are in a flexed (rounded) position causing increased strain on the bones themselves and on the discs in between. Also, slouchers tend to have sleepy core muscles (the ones around your middle, aka your “natual corset”!) which means there is a lack of muscular control helping your back fulfil its job description!
So…if any of the above sound familiar to you, a good start to being a “perfect-postured individual” is this:
No, we’re not talking about attending deportment classes to practise walking around with books on your head!
Improve your poise
Simply by making a subtle change to the position of your neck and shoulders you can improve your poise! Firstly, do this with me now…gently move your shoulder blades together and downwards. Feel a bit of a squeeze between your shoulder blades? Feel a stretch down the back of your neck? Good! Next, tuck your chin in, yes let’s go for that double chin look! Don’t tip your head up as you do it, keep looking straight ahead. Done? Ok, stay like that for the rest of your life!
Ok, well just think about it, practise it as often as you remember, and let’s see if we can all become a bit more upright! Good luck!