Jonathan Lorusso, LPTA
When you see someone striking enter a room, what is one of the first things you notice? It may be their beauty or their expensive suit, but it probably has to do with how they carry themselves and their posture. But did you know that good posture is also beneficial to your health and well-being and that poor posture can cause a world of health issues?
Let’s talk about the good stuff first. Having good posture:
- Enables full and complete breathing at lung capacity
- Keeps your spine in alignment with your hips
- Improves digestion
- Provides more energy
- Results in fewer headaches, less back and neck pain
- Makes you appear taller and slimmer
- Increases endurance with age
- Betters’ concentration
That’s a lot of reasons to stand up straight! Insofar as the effects of poor posture, simply turn all of those positives listed above into negatives. As a Physical Therapy provider, I’m not going to tell you to balance a book on top of your head and walk around the room to improve your posture, maybe like your grandma did. However, I can give you some easy and simple tips you can do every day to work on bettering your posture and reaping the benefits that improved posture will bring. Let’s go!
1. Pretend that you have a cord that comes out of the top of your head and that someone is pulling on it so that you always stand up straight and tall. Practice this while sitting at your desk, driving, and doing other daily activities.
2. Give your workspaces an ergonomic check and makeover, if needed. Computer screens should always be at eye level and keyboards about level with your belly button within short reach. Chairs should be at the correct height so that slouching at one’s desk is discouraged (good lumbar support is very helpful!). Get a stand-up desk for work, if possible, and start alternating your work between sitting and standing up for a healthier you. Always remember to keep your shoulders aligned over your hips and switch positions often to prevent fatigue.
3. Work on your core to strengthen it. Doing an exercise as simple as Transverse Abdominis (TA) bracing can help to effectively strengthen your natural “back brace”. To perform this exercise, start in a good seated position, with your shoulders back and a neutral spine. Locate your belly button and the objective is to pull your belly button in an upward and inward direction. You should feel your stomach tighten up in the front, wrapping around your sides (or obliques), to your back. Hold this contraction for 10 seconds (make sure you continue breathing) and perform 10 times. This can be performed often throughout the day, such as every hour.
4. Watch out for “tech” or “text” neck. This is a condition where the neck becomes overly bent forward due to obsessive texting or use of tablets, gaming or other electronic devices. To improve tech/text neck, there is a simple stretch you can perform to reduce the tightness that results from the constant forward head posture. Performing a sternocleidomastoid (SCM) stretch effectively targets those front neck muscles. This can be performed by placing your right or left hand onto the opposite collar bone. Then, tilt your head backwards and to the opposite direction of the collar bone you are holding. You should feel a good stretch running from your collar bone up to the base of your jaw. This stretch should be held 30 seconds to 1 minute, as tolerated, and performed 2-3 times on both sides. This exercise can be performed often throughout the day, such as every hour.
5. Alternatively, you may have developed a case of chin poke from looking at a screen that is too high or sitting in a chair that is too low all day. Over time, this can cause one’s muscles on the back of the neck to tighten and cause the chin to poke out at an odd and high angle. An effective way of correcting this postural deficiency is by performing cervical nods. This exercise can be performed in either sitting or lying on your back by bringing your chin down toward your neck, as if you are nodding your head ‘yes’. Hold this position for 10 seconds and perform 10 times. You should feel a gentle stretch at the base of your skull. This exercise can be performed often throughout the day, such as every hour.
Make an appointment with our PT Team or another OSC provider by clicking the “Request Appointment” button below or by calling (757) 596-1900.