We easily forget our posture whilst working on laptops, looking at our phones and at a desk.
Overtime, the head moves forwards, the shoulders round and an excessive curvature of the spine occurs on the upper back, putting pressure on muscles and joints. It can be useful to see a professional chiropractor, but there are also plenty of things we can do to help ourselves.
So, isn’t it about time you at least checked your posture?
When did you last check your phone or laptop posture?
Ask someone to take a picture of your front, back and side posture or look in a mirror to check if you are aligned correctly.
Then repeat the exercise and make sure you’re sitting up straight. If possible, make sure the back of your head and whole back is against the backrest of the chair.
Top Tip: Vary your posture and keep moving a few minutes every hour. Don’t simply get stuck in one position, especially if you’re commuting or working in a bad position. If you can then move about or stretch, but at the very least have a mini-break, to remind yourself to re-set things.
Top Tip: When reading or looking at your phone, bring the object up to you instead of looking down to keep your neck straight, taking tension off joints and muscles.
Stretch and Strengthen
As well as these general posture tips you can also take more specific action.
You can stretch the tight muscles and/or strengthen the weak muscles to help ease tension and increase endurance during posture.
The Muscle to Work on Are:
Trapezius – On top of your shoulders and in between your shoulder blades. The upper ones are often tight and the middle and lower ones are often weak.
These shrug the shoulders and move the shoulder blade. To relieve the tension on the upper traps, sit up straight, drop your shoulders down and move your forearms outwards, making sure the shoulder blades are squeezed together.
You can do this with a resistance band. Hold the band in your hands and bring your arms outwards. Do this 15 times.
Serratus Anterior – Located just below the armpit on the ribs, stabilises the shoulder blade during arm movements and pushing objects. These are usually weak.
To strengthen these, get either a weight (2-5kg) or water bottle, lie face up and hold the weight/water bottle up, keeping your arm straight and in line with the shoulder then reach upwards towards the ceiling, keeping your arm straight. Repeat 10 times each side.
Scalenes – These muscles lift up the top two ribs during breathing. Often tight due to breathing with our upper chest instead of our abdomen.
Lie face up and put one hand on your upper chest and another on your abdomen, the hand on your abdomen should be moving more than your chest hand. If not, try and practise moving the hand on your abdomen more. In between the scalenes, nerves and blood vessels from the neck and the shoulder exit, when tight these can impinge on them.
To stretch these, tilt your head to one side, rotate your head to the opposite side you are tilting, then tilt your chin up and hold for 30 seconds. You should feel a stretch at the side of the neck. Repeat twice more each side.
Pectoralis major – These are usually tight, causing rounded shoulders.
To stretch these out, hold your arms with elbows bent against a door or window frame, then lean forward. Hold for 30 seconds then repeat three times.
Pectoralis Minor – Located deep to the pec major. It is responsible for rounding the shoulders. This is usually tight.
To stretch, rest your hands on the back of your head, interlinking them with your elbows pointing out, then try and extend your elbows backwards. Hold this for 30 seconds and repeat three times.
Drastic Action if You’re a Super Sloucher?
If you have an excessive curvature of your back or a sloucher, a long foam roller may help straighten up your back.
Lye with the foam roller length wise up your back and relax. Let your arms rest out either side and keep your feet planted on the floor. Then relax in this position for 5 to 10minutes. It’s a nice stretch to ease out the tension across your body.
The whole head and spine should rest on the roller vertically. This will give a nice stretch throughout the back and your pecs.
If any of the above exercises causes pain, discontinue them and talk to your Chiropractor or other spine care professional.
Only use these exercises as far as you feel comfortable.