Do you experience back and shoulder pain on a regular basis – or at the very least, do you constantly feel tension in the base of your neck?
Before you blame your workout, your lack of a workout, your genetics or anything else, here’s a question for you. Have you ever looked at a photo of yourself and noticed that you’re slouching
Poor posture does more than make you look bad in photos. It has a very real impact on the health of your spine, and is one of the leading factors in back and neck pain. Start improving your posture and you’ll not only feel better physically, you’ll be less tired and you’ll feel better about yourself.
The first thing you need to know about your poor posture is that there’s no need to beat yourself up about it. With the average American spending up to 10 hours per day in front of a computer, tablet or phone screen, hunching our shoulders has almost become second nature. It leads to tightness in your muscles and restricts the range of motion in your joints. It can make you more vulnerable to shoulder dysfunction and back injuries, as well as herniated discs in the cervical spine.
If you doubt that having poor posture can have that much of an impact, think about this: your head weighs about ten pounds, and when you’re bending forward it’s like having the pull of a bowling ball on your spine on a constant basis.
The good news is that there are a few simple steps you can take to improve your posture and start feeling immediate improvement in your back. Here are our top tips for optimizing your posture.
- Recognize the problem – The toughest part of breaking the poor posture habit is making sure that you know when you’re doing it. It’s hard to catch yourself, but it’s easy to remind yourself. Set an alarm on your phone to go off several times a day, specifically to remind you to check your posture. You can also get a fitness bracelet that will let you know when you’ve been sitting around too long, and every time it goes off take a moment to readjust your posture. If all fails, there are devices that you can wear that vibrate when you slouch.
- Do some planks – The muscles that support your back and torso are known as your core muscles, and the stronger they are, the better your posture will be. The plank is one of the best exercises for strengthening your core, and low-impact exercises like Pilates and yoga are also good at helping build your endurance.
- Check your ergonomics – There are rights and wrongs to the way your desk is set up, and they can add to your posture problems. Your computer monitor should be at eye level and your chair and desk heights need to be set properly too.
- Take time to stretch – No matter what type of work you’re doing, take the time to do a full body stretch at least once an hour. By doing a few good stretches you eliminate the tightness that can force you into a forward slouch.
These simple solutions may be all the help you need, but if you’ve tried them all and still are experiencing back pain, it may be time to bring in professional help. Contact our cervical spine specialist in New Jersey to set up an appointment and see how we can help.