Written by: Jen Boyle
I am sure we have all been told at one time or another that “Posture is Key” but what does this really mean?
Well let us tell you!
Over the past two years our lives have been turned upside down and we have been forced to adapt to a new lifestyle. Changes such as working/schooling from home, increased sitting time, decrease in activity level and so much more. We here at PSPT have been seeing a steady increase in neck, shoulder, upper back and lower back pain that are heavily linked to- you guessed it- Posture! In a post - pandemic world we are seeing a new pattern of injuries due to underuse, overuse and inappropriate movement patterns getting back to normalcy following the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions. Adapting and educating people on combating newly sedentary habits, appropriate return to sport and activity protocols, and proper work-from-home ergonomics have been crucial in reducing injury.
Poor posture and body mechanics are typically contributing factors as to why other body parts such as your neck, shoulders, upper back and even your low back could be in pain. This is referred to as interregional dependence which means that seemingly unrelated body regions can contribute and be associated with a person's primary area of symptoms. In the case of posture, people tend to gravitate toward an “upper cross syndrome” presentation that accentuates a forward head and rounded shoulders type of posture typically seen when we lose the fight against gravity. From a Physical Therapy standpoint this means people presenting this way tend to have a tight pectoralis, upper trapezius and levator scapula muscles and weakness in their deep neck flexors and rhomboids, middle trapezius and serratus anterior.
So the big question now is how can we combat this?
Simple put- we want to stretch what is tight and strengthen what is weak. Stretches such as an upper trapezius and pectoralis stretch and strengthening exercises such as rows and push up plus are a great starting point to help combat this type of posture. There is also an overwhelming amount of evidence that supports increased thoracic spine mobility being linked to improvements in neck and shoulder pain/dysfunction- so get those foam rollers out for some thoracic spine hinging! There are many more exercises and techniques to be performed to help combat our new lifestyles such as rearranging our desks, getting a standing desk and taking frequent breaks. As much as
we would like to generalize these exercises to help with posture - everyone is different and may require a different approach. To know exactly what your body needs come see us for a postural screen!