Posture and Your Muscles
Poor posture shifts the body weight unevenly to some muscles, making them chronically tight and sore, while others get weak from under-use. Imbalanced muscles create an un-even pull on the bones of the spine, shoulders and hips, causing misalignment and in some cases, spinal nerve stress. That nerve stress leads to even tighter muscles, and the vicious cycle goes on and on.
This is a common pattern in people with fibromyalgia, headaches, shoulder pain and upper or lower back pain. The good news is that you can break this cycle by improving your posture – sit and stand up straight.
Poor Posture #1: Slouching
Slouching doesn't always cause discomfort, but over time places strain on sensitized muscles and soft tissues. This strain may increase tension in the muscles, which may in turn cause pain.
Get into the habit of sitting correctly. It may not feel comfortable initially because your muscles have not been conditioned to support you in the correct position. Exercises to strengthen your core and buttock muscles, and back extensions, will help correct a slouching posture.
Poor Posture #2: Sticking your bottom out
If your bottom tends to stick out or you have a pronounced curve in your lower back, you may have an exaggerated inward curve of the lower back that creates a "Donald Duck" posture.
Wearing high heels, excessive weight around the stomach and pregnancy can all cause this posture.
To help correct your standing posture, imagine a string attached to the top of your head pulling you upwards. The idea is to keep your body in perfect alignment, maintaining the spine's natural curvature, with your neck straight and shoulders parallel with the hips:
Keep your shoulders back and relaxed
Pull in your abdomen
Keep your feet about hip distance apart
Balance your weight evenly on both feet
Try not to tilt your head forward, backwards or sideways
Keep your legs straight, but knees relaxed
Making a conscious effort to correct your standing posture is recommended to help correct a sticking out bottom.
Poor Posture #3: Leaning on one leg
Leaning more on one leg while standing can feel comfortable, especially if you've been standing for a while. Instead of using your buttocks and core muscles to keep you upright, you place excessive pressure on one side of your lower back and hip.
Over time, you may develop muscle imbalances around the pelvis area, which can cause muscular strain in the lower back and buttocks.
To improve this posture, try to get into the habit of standing with your weight evenly distributed on both legs.
Poor Posture #4: Hunched back and Text neck
Hunching over your keyboard is usually a sign that you have a tight chest and a weak upper back. Over time, this type of posture can contribute to you developing a rounded upper back, which can cause shoulder and upper back stiffness.
When hunching over a computer, your head may tend to lean forward, which can lead to poor posture. Using a mobile can cause similar problems dubbed "text neck".
Upper back, neck and rear shoulder strengthening exercises, chest stretches and neck posture drills are recommended to help correct a hunched back.
Poor Posture #5: Cradling your phone
Holding your phone handset between your ear and shoulder places strain on the muscles of the neck, upper back and shoulders.
The neck and shoulders are not designed to hold this position for any length of time. Over time this posture can place strain on the muscles and other soft tissues, and lead to muscle imbalances between the left and right side of your neck.
Try to get a head set or get into the habit of holding the phone with your hand.
Schedule a Visit
A massage treatment plan can relieve some of the muscle tension and stress allowing your muscles to start adapting and get more flexible.
As a massage therapist, it’s evident to me that clients need help with either their neck and shoulders, or their low back—or all of the above. Most people have a tendency to blame these things on sleeping habits or sitting at a computer all day. It’s really the tension we hold all day, every day, that eventually snowballs into pain.
The thing to remember is that everyone has these same basic issues, they didn’t get that way overnight, and correcting your posture may feel awkward at first because your body has become so used to sitting and standing in a certain way, but with a bit of practice, good posture will become second nature and help your back pain in the long term.